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Comunicar Journal 25: Quality Television (Vol. 13 - 2005)

Effects that images of suffering, violence and death have on viewers and society


Antonio Linde-Navas


First photography and then television have persistently reflected suffering, sorrow and death. In this paper I intend to review some of the theories which explain such an interest. Then I will approach the moral debate about what the media should o shoud not show regarding cases of suffering, violence and death. The most important part of this paper is about the effects that certain images of suffering and death have on viewers and on the whole society. These reflections have made me come to two conclusions: In the new context which sorrounds informative television, where images often become mere merchandise at the consumer’s service, the effects which the images of suffering, sorrow or death may have on people are utterly unpredictable. In spite of that, I believe in the necessity of such images –without giving in to sensationalism– as a means of vigilance and control, which is indispensable in modern democracies.


Informative television, images from pain, sensationalism, television

PDF file in Spanish