The media have a major role in colouring our world. Are our streets safe, are libraries being valued, do we have accessible parks and outdoor recreational areas? I can answer such questions easily myself, yet my answers will shift by what the media says. I experience streets all the time, I read voraciously, I'm outdoors every week. Yet the feel for these issues is changed by the sustained voice of the media.
Any media has to have a voice or it ceases to exist. As such, material that is subjective comment rather than reported news is thrust at us endlessly through every medium possible.
This constant barrage of "news" gives texture to our experiences and does shift how we see our world, beyond our experiential learning.
How safe we feel is largely beyond our control (since principally it's other people who would make it unsafe). Because it's beyond just us we do rely on media stories to normalise how safe/unsafe our world currently is.
Mental illness is seldom seen in a positive light.
Much of our society will experience mental illness (about 1 in 4 of us in our lifetime will, depending which study you believe). 1 in 4. So it's common. Very very common. So common as to be unremarkable and normal and acceptable. Why isn't it accepted?
Media portray elements of major mental illness such as hearing voices as serious and risky. We know it usually isn't. Marius Romme's famous TV broadcast in the Netherlands in 1985 on prime time TV turned the tables momentarily, when some 400 people 'phoned in saying they heard voices but many (about 38%) functioned productively in the community. Many people with hallucinations have no contact with and are unknown to mental health services.
So why is mental illness seen so badly, with such stigma?
I'd go with this quote :
"The function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money."
- A J Liebling