Thursday 11 August 2016

Opinion: Media feeding a culpable indifference to the human experience

No soul in the news
If there is any evidence of how the news or rather the media industrial machine consumes everything in its wake in the pursuit of ratings borne of the need for advertisement and ingratiating itself with the sensational without empathy, it has to be with regards to the reportage in the aftermath of the sudden death of the 6th Duke of Westminster.
The Duke suddenly took ill on the 8th of August and unfortunately unexpectedly died on the 9th of August. The focus of the news has been on the vast fortune of almost £9 billion that he leaves to his survivors and the transfer of the hereditary title to his only son, a 25-year old.
Maybe, but not now
There is probably a lot of news and stories to share about wealth, fortune, and eligibility in due course, but at this juncture, there is a family which includes a widow, four children, extended relations, friends, colleagues, partners, beneficiaries and a wider public grieving the untimely death of a husband, father, uncle, friend, colleague, benefactor, philanthropist and much else.
Despite all that man can attain and have access to, we are not by providence or circumstance isolated from the vicissitudes of the cycle of life and death, happiness and sorrow, good fortune and bad luck. Basically, even if we have grown up in a bubble of privilege, it does not exclude us from the harsh realities of human emotion, personal grief, struggles with confidence or depression and many other things in the broad spectrum of our shared humanity.
Firstly, there are people affected
That is why I am saddened by the overarching narrative that seems to have put the personal grief of the new 7th Duke of Westminster in the shade, whilst the headlines have concentrated on his youthful looks, his being a very eligible bachelor, the amazing inheritance of wealth and the family seat of Eaton Hall amongst all other tabloid fodder. His father has hardly been dead two days.
It seems we have forgotten that these are people, flesh and blood, like you and I, that in spite of and despite their stupendous wealth, they are not immune to the human experience. I wonder if anyone would like their grief subsumed to sensationalism.
Maybe it is too much to ask; a decent obituary has probably yet to be written of the 6th Duke, and though life goes on, it is too much to try a little tenderness and sympathy, if empathy were too much a requirement to allow this family to grieve without the klieg lights of the grist of reality television being shone into their most vulnerable moment?
Are we culpable?
The question is whether we by our feasting on this media frenzy have not tacitly given legitimacy to this intrusive and uncaring kind of journalism that tends to dehumanise in the quest for entertainment, sensational gossip and controversy.
May God grant the survivors of Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, the strength and fortitude to bear their loss in the face of the intrusive interest in their affairs which for all intents and purposes is not in the public interest, but just put upon tittle-tattle.

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