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Affairs in the Media
by Peggy Vaughan

As readers of this site know, I have a "love-hate" relationship with the media. Note this excerpt from another posting titled: Extramarital Affairs and the Media:

    Talk shows have contributed to both the best and the worst aspects of the issue of affairs. They have promoted the idea of talking more openly about affairs—but they have done it in an irresponsible way. It's my hope that we can continue to deal more openly with the issue of affairs while protecting and respecting the feelings of those who struggle personally with this issue.

I'm adding this post to the site in January, 2006, to report on a recent experience with the media. Frankly, I feel I just "dodged a bullet" this week when I watched a local news program's piece on affairs. They had called me a few weeks ago about participating, and while a "news program" would normally be one of the few media outlets I would consider contributing to, I chose not to do this one because it was in my home town and I prefer to keep a low profile locally (so my work doesn't impose too much on my daily life or that of my grown children and their families).

Anyway, despite the fact that this was part of the local news program, it was downright "sleazy," using provocative music and shaded video of people in clandestine situations, etc. So, as I said, I was very thankful I had declined to be involved. And it reminded me again of just how difficult it is to find quality treatment in the media about the issue of affairs.

Another recent experience provides an additional example of this problem. Last month I did an intensive series of interviews with a major newspaper with a national distribution. The journalist was exceptionally serious and substantive in her approach and in the nature of the piece she wrote. Although I didn't see the finished product, it was clear from our exchanges that she was the "real deal" and this would be (will be?) a great contribution to the general understanding of affairs. (It also is to include references to BAN - Beyond Affairs Network, so I was particularly anxious to see it in print.)

Anyway, a date was scheduled for it to be printed, but it didn't appear. When I checked with the journalist, it turned out she had been told that the column had been put on the back burner by the editors. She was quite disappointed, but hopes to have it moved back up to the front burner soon.

She was surprised by the delay, but I have a theory as to why this happened—that a very serious, substantive piece on affairs has a much more difficult time getting exposure than a piece that has a titillation factor. When a piece on affairs is very responsibly handled, it's much less marketable.

So the fault of the lack of quality coverage of this issue in the media is not to be blamed just on the media. They understandably promote whatever "sells." So it behooves all of us to support any responsible reporting while not supporting any coverage of affairs that feeds into the titillation or trivialization of this painful issue.

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