Leveson and happiness

In the same week that we had the Leveson report on the British ‘press’ we also had the Rory Peck Awards for freelance journalists. They are the men and women who risk their lives, without even a salary, to expose the terrible things that are going on all over the world. So it’s unfortunate that everyone in ‘the press’ is being tarred with the same brush. Award winners like Alberto Arce and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova from Spain, who took the features prize for a self-funded film about rebel fighters in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata, are not the same kind of ‘press’ as the men and women who sit in their cosy tabloid offices and make up stories about celebrities.  Mani, the French freelance photographer and film maker, who won the news award for his report on the shelling of Homs in Syria, is not that kind of ‘press’ either. Nor is Daniel Bogado of Britain who won the Sony Impact Award for his film on the fighting between government troops and civilians in the Sudan. Nor was Rory Peck himself, a freelance cameraman who was killed in Moscow in 1993.

There are journalists, men and women, who risk their lives to make the world a happier place. They should not be damned for the mistakes of people who are not real journalists at all.

But why is it that there are so many people, not just in the ‘press’ but in the media generally, who don’t want to make the world a happier place? Why, in fact, do so many wealthy producers, directors, actors and writers do things to make the world a worse place?

The US Academy of Pediatrics has said this: ‘More than one thousand scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behaviour in certain children, desensitizes them to violence and makes them believe that the world is a “meaner and scarier” place than it is.’

Why put time, effort and money into violent films and video games that have no actual benefit to anyone – other than those who take the paycheques?

If you’re already a very rich, successful producer, director or actor, why not use that position for doing something good in the world? Why not makes films and video games that are uplifting? Why not make films and video games that make people more compassionate and more sensitive? Why not do things to make the world a happier place?

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