Media Scrutiny Will Not Diminish Heroes' Reputations
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There is a claim that no living men or women can be regarded as heroes because their reputations, when subjected to media scrutiny, will eventually be diminished. In my point of view, in modern society where media coverage is ubiquitous, whereas it is a truth universally acknowledged that careful and close media scrutiny is capable of compromising one’s reputation, such capability does not necessarily mean that a hero’s positive image will collapse. At times heroes’ imperfections are revealed, but the public may still regard those people as heroes nonetheless.
In the first place, as the 18th-century English poet Alexander Pope ever writes in Essay on Criticism, “To err is human.” No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. If every aspect of one’s life is exposed to the public by media coverage, his or her reputation could certainly be deteriorated. Some of his or her behaviors may no longer be accepted as the moral standard for a hero. For instance, a heroic police officer who has risked his life to save others’ might be committing adultery, which, once revealed, would result in his reputation being defamed; what’s more, the media may exaggerate a hero’s negative side in order to gain more nationwide publicity. In such extreme cases, media scrutiny could lead to derogatory remarks and biased public opinions about heroes.
That being said, the argument above presumes that the media will excessively probe into heroes’ personal lives in painstaking detail and focus on the negative side. This assumption, nevertheless, could not be true. With respect to the first part, media may not be willing to invest time and resources discovering every negative aspect of a hero’s life due to limited time and resources and perhaps weak public resonance it can provoke. Furthermore, it would be inaccurate and unfair to assume that every media source is biased in the way. Thanks to the First Amendment, there are many independent media sources in the U.S. providing reports from various perspectives. Even if politically motivated, it would be impossible to require the whole media to give undivided attention to a hero’s dark side.
Even if heroes’ reputations could be defamed to some extent by media scrutiny, it is still necessary for society to regard them as heroes. To understand this claim, we need to revisit the definition of a hero. A hero or heroine is a person who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, bravery or strength. It is their essential qualities that are admired by people. Hence, as long as those key qualities are not falsified by the media, heroes can still exist in spite of negativity in terms of their personalities. For supporting examples, let us turn to the aforementioned police officer who has extramarital affair. If he indeed has ever saved others’ lives at risk of sacrificing his own life, it is not stunning at all that he will still be considered as a hero, as a consequence of the very fact that it is the valor and commitment demonstrated by his paying ultimate price that outweigh the stain on his character and earn him the title of hero.
To summarize, it is undeniably true that media scrutiny has the potential to deteriorate one’s reputation. Whereas the media could focus on the negative side on purpose due to imperfections of heroes, by no means is it guaranteed to take place. Not all the media just only broadcast negative aspects of heroes to draw attention at the cost of heroes’ positive image. Even if the media did so, the public would still accept them because they posses key characteristics that define them as heroes.