By William Vallely
Unsavoury, unnecessary slander or justifiable media coverage?
These two questions followed the release of the USDA’S report that explained their reason to slap a life ban on accused doping cheat- Lance Armstrong.
The report professes a ‘fair and reasoned’ decision surrounding Armstrong’s alleged use of performance enhancing drugs. In truth the report is anything but ‘fair and reasoned’, as was the media response.
Selective media coverage of the report and the testimonies of former Armstrong teammates have helped to tarnish the image of Lance Armstrong and the valuable work he has done and continues to do.
The report is a character assassination.
Realising Armstrong’s desire not to contest the charges – the USADA went to town -producing 200 pages of testimonies, detailing all the alleged ways Armstrong and his team went about cheating the system.
The sad aspect of the whole situation is that the media rely on reports of this nature to report a story, resulting in unbalanced reporting.
Yes, the charges are serious but there are no stories assessing why he chose not to contest the charges, why he may have drug cheated?
Bigger issues of whether he needed to cheat to survive in an sport riddled with drug cheats, or whether commercial pressure from the Lance Armstrong foundation was pushing him to compete when his post-cancer body was still recovering are issues not reported in the news.
The issue of Lance and his doping charges illustrates contemporary media’s cynical fascination with ‘bad news’. The Telegraph provides some balance to the argument but the overwhelming focus centres around shattering the myth of Mr. Armstrong and his battles with cancer.
The idiom of ‘bad news is good news’ is pertinent in the public humiliation of Lance Armstrong. Perhaps he is not the superhero he had been made out to be, but he is a man who recovered from cancer to competitively race again, setting up a successful cancer foundation along the way.
The unbalanced supporting surrounding an unbalanced report with heaps of motive says more about the drive of modern media than anything else.
Commercially driven machines, newspapers and websites will naturally create more interest in the ’scandal’. Unfortunately we as consumers play a part, providing a market for media organisations to behave this way.
Do you think the unnatural tendency for media to focus on negative issues affects the type of news we consume?