Media Key Issues

Unethical Reporting and Bias

While 'hard cases' may make 'bad laws,' they do make good news stories. Disabled rights groups join opponents of euthanasia in criticising the way media handle stories where a parent or spouse murders a disabled 'loved one.' Too often, they say, media portray the killer as having acted out of love and compassion. There is also criticism over the terminology used, which stories are covered and which are ignored because they don't fit a particular viewpoint.

Misleading Information

The media have a huge influence in ethical debates by the way they cover a story. People at both ends of the euthanasia controversy often feel frustrated that they have been portrayed inaccurately, or that their comments have been quoted out of context. Media have a responsibility to report the facts in an unbiased manner rather than putting their own slant on an issue and ignoring what does not fit into someone's particular agenda. With the Internet, it has become easier for the general public to find out details the media have neglected to report, resulting in a certain scepticism for what we see and hear from mainstream media.

Public opinion polls

Public surveys usually are reported as being overwhelmingly in favour of assisted suicide. Advocates of euthanasia and assisted suicide use this information to demand legal change. It is important to note though, that a clear majority of the following people oppose assisted suicide: the elderly, those who are physically and mentally ill and experiencing pain, the poor, and ethnic minorities. Those most likely to support it are white, male, wealthy, educated and in good health. Another important factor to consider is the language used in the survey. For instance, when the word suicide is used, support drops.