Journalism, Suicide, and Language, Oh My!


Journalism and news reporting has changed exponentially over the past several years. Journalism goes beyond picking up newspapers at New York City stands. It is early morning, afternoon, and late night television newscasts, with digital articles, and social media updates.

Digital news is something people do not have to work for, notifications popping up on our phones, appearing in full view with a swipe of your finger. With news trending quickly and ample access to information, news industries have adopted the language and routines in which they use to help steer our overall opinion and encourage our clicks, favorites, retweets, etc.

After enrolling and completing a journalism-like course, I analyzed and studied the way various news sources portrayed the subjects of their articles. Some sites were unbiased, providing the best evidence from all sides. Some sites claimed their own sides, attempting to sway opinion in similar direction through precisely selected word choice, interviews from specific people, certain evidence, and so on.

With a recent topic taking the media by storm, I have noticed a significant issue in headline portrayal.

Fashion designer, Kate Spade, was a bright, lively, colorful, youthful, and fun designer who made adorable bags, gorgeous jewelry, glamorous footwear, and more. She made all girls feel confident and beautiful. She was an inspiration for young girls as well as other designers. She was nothing less than an icon.

At fifty-five years old, Spade was found both alone and dead in her New York apartment. Tragically, she had committed suicide.

This story broke early afternoon on Tuesday, June 5th, 2018.

At first, the headlines were simple, all revealing the same unfortunate fact. As the day progressed into twenty-four hours plus, the headlines shifted. The headlines became more revealing as additional information was released. Still, even with more content being discovered in the story, the headlines took on a much different tone.

The tone no longer sounded sad. The mood switched to accusatory and overly exposed. The headlines were written in a way that put Spade in a negative light.

Many headlines dropped the fact of her suicide but instead talked about the darkness that hovered and followed her through life. It was almost as if because new details were released, the factors that contributed to her suicide were considered most important. Therefore, the tragedy was overshadowed.

What I mean here is, while her rumored trouble with alcohol, separation with her husband, and confirmed battles with depression and anxiety could have played a role in her suicide, focusing on the correlating issues is drawing more attention to a time in her life in which she wanted to escape. Essentially, we are magnifying the hurdles and struggles she endured. Even more, rumors are gaining more attention than the actual facts and occurrence.

While the details are possibly contributing, each piece of information has its own place within an article, but a headline does not always seem fitting, as we are being swayed to remember her struggles as she wanted to forget them. It is almost like mimicry as headlines are what a reader views first. These headlines do not honor the subject and in my opinion, makes it appear as if she was weak, when in fact she wasn’t. Suicide should not be portrayed as weak or an easy way out.

I feel like journalism has changed drastically with suicide stories. They seem to hold the perspective of focusing on one’s hardships rather than reflecting on the achievements. Kate Spade lived a glorious life of fashion, art, creativity, and sheer glamour. It is her imprint upon the fashion community that should be honored. Thankfully, some fashion accounts did a flashback to some of Spade’s most trendy moments.



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