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Why does local news ignore important issues like women abuse?

Tabitha McCarl | Interrobang | Opinion | October 17th, 2011

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
Eighty-one per cent of women said that have been shoved, hit or grabbed by their current or previous boyfriend/husband, 38 per cent said they were beaten or choked. These are the shocking results of one survey of 653,000 women across Canada1.

Abuse towards women is clearly common in our country, and yet how often do we hear from the media about the everyday abuses some women suffer? The five o'clock news and local papers alike tend to only cover issues of women abuse when tragedy strikes. News coverage can be enormous if a woman is critically injured or killed by her partner, but we are never told of the thousands of women suffering from abuse right here in London. If you try to search for news of abuse in relationships in our local newspaper, the London Free Press, there are very few results, and almost all of the results that are relevant are stories of disaster.

These articles in themselves depict stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding abusive relationships. By only reporting certain incidents, we promote the myth that men only get violent if they are pushed too far and snap, instead of the reality that abuse can be a daily occurrence. The way this topic is covered supports the stereotype that victims are mainly women from minority groups (such as those with mental illnesses) or from low-income homes.

Perhaps there is an underlying fear that if we make the realities of women abuse known in our city, that London will start to get a bad reputation. Or perhaps the reason for under-coverage of important topics like this is because the audience isn't interested enough to listen. All news outlets, independent or corporate giants, are first and primarily profit oriented businesses. Topics that would interest a larger portion of the audience take priority over issues that are just as, if not more, important because they will sell.

If news outlets are basing their pieces on only the issues that are popular at the time, then we start to compromise our true purpose. The media is supposed to be a channel between the people and the goings-on of the world around them. Media sources that gravitate towards interest-driven stories aren't serving that purpose. Most of us read the paper with the idea that we are educating ourselves about the issues of society, but in reality we are only learning about the issues that are of interest to the mass of our population.
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