Media tell only what they think we can handle
March 5, 2014
It is remarkable how the reporting of events blows with the winds of change.
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Wendi Deng Photo: AP
The relationship between the media and power is wonderfully encapsulated by the front-page headlines that appeared in Le Moniteur, the official French government daily, in the month of March 1815. During that month, Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from his exile on the island of Elba and launched an extraordinary campaign that began with recapturing France, and ended on the battlefield at Waterloo.
March 10, Dateline Elba
The Beast Has Escaped Its Lair
The Rebel Bonaparte Evades Arrest
By Loyal Troops, Heads North
The Emperor At The Gates Of Paris
His Imperial Majesty To Enter
The City Today
These headlines show the athletic flexibility of media reporting as it responds to shifts in power.
In that case, Napoleon was being elevated as his power increased, but, of course, it also goes the other way as we regularly witness the downfall of previously powerful individuals.
Most vulnerable of all are the women who are powerful by association because they are in a relationship with a powerful man. If they separate from him or – even worse – leave him, their shift from protected species to fair game can be dizzyingly abrupt. Continue reading