Channel One Sends Wrong Message About Ecstasy

February 12, 2002
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From Jim Metrock:

I have been watching Channel One since 1996. There has not been a show that has not made me very angry. As a conservative, as a parent, as a taxpayer – on many levels, this TV show is repugnant. The messages that Channel One sends our children about drugs really upset me.

Channel One inundates children with stories of teens drinking, teens doing pot, teens doing heroin, and more. A child watching C1 would get the idea that virtually every student in their school is binge drinking and doing drugs.

One Channel One broadcast told the kids that half of their parents smoked marijuana when they were young. They were reporting on poll results from some group. It was outrageous. It is very demoralizing for a young person to watch Channel One.

One typical story on teen drinking ended with the Channel One reporter saying, “if you, or someone you know, has a drinking problem, visit” and then he gave a web address.

“Drinking problem”?

Channel One’s captive audience is ALL underage. However, Channel One has to remain “cool” with its audience so they use such language. Message: Underage drinking may be OK. It is not OK to have a PROBLEM with your drinking.

At the end of any report on drugs or alcohol, Channel One will advise children on what to do if they have a “problem” with that drug. Channel One will furnish them the name of an organization or a crisis phone line or direct them to the Channel One web page, but I have never, in six years, seen them tell children to talk to their parents. Channel One is, simply stated, anti-parent, or, at best, parent-neutral.

On today’s show, the first story is about the drug Ecstasy. I have added
some comments in ( ).

INTRO ECSTASY]
[AIRDATE=02/12/02]
[PRO=ENAS]
[TALENT=ANDREW]
(ANDREW ON CAM)
ECSTASY USE IS ON THE RISE AND MORE AMERICAN TEENAGERS ARE TURNING TO IT AS THEIR DRUG OF CHOICE.

(JM: What is this Channel One reporter telling kids? “Drug of choice”? Could a child conclude that this drug must be very good in what it does and that it must not be that dangerous since so many more kids are using it. Sure Channel One is going to say somebody died from it after taking it once, but that sounds like it’s a rare thing from this opening line from Andrew Yani.)

SO SOME ANTI-DRUG GROUPS ARE TURNING TO THE AIRWAVES TO LAUNCH A MASSIVE EDUCATION CAMPAIGN TO INFORM TEENS ABOUT THE DANGERS ASSOCIATED WITH “E.”

(JM: Channel One often uses the nicknames for drugs. Students are getting their drug education from this controversial marketing company. Maybe it is counterproductive to browbeat an eleven-year-old with street names for drugs. Two years ago, Channel One teamed up with MTV to show how a heroin user shoots up. The Channel One camera followed the drug user into a rest room and showed her getting out her needle and tying off her arm. Now even if the community didn’t want to inform their students about the street name for Ecstasy, Channel One did it anyhow. “Let’s score some ‘E’.”)

[ECSTASY]
[AIRDATE=]
[PRO=]
[TALENT=]
(** **/ON CAM)[OC]
TOMMY 2-07-50
After you do it once or twice, it’s your happiness and it’s really hard to pull away from in.

(JM: Channel One usually has a young person tell about how good they felt doing a drug and then they tell a story about a teen who did the drug ONE time and died. This is a formula for Channel One’s drug stories. This may not work with kids. After all they see the person who said the drug felt great and he or she is still around to do the interview. Many young people believe they will not be the one to die. They feel immortal.)

FOR YEARS, ECSTASY OR E WAS TOMMY BIRCH’S DRUG OF CHOICE……..IT WAS A GOOD HIGH AND THE RISKS WERE LOW…. OR SO HE THOUGHT. BUT THEN ONE NIGHT WHILE PARTYING AT A CLUB, HIS FRIEND, 18 YEAR OLD JIMMY LYONS, TRIED THE DRUG FOR THE FIRST TIME…. AND DIED.

(JM: “It was a GOOD high” for Tommy. Tommy is alive. Although Channel One thinks they are going to scare someone into not trying Ecstasy, they are negating that message by telling students how good you can feel if you use the drug. This is typical irresponsible content from Channel One. Young people watching this will question the Channel One script that says the young man “tried the drug for the first time … and died.” Who said he had only tried it once? Friends who were doing the drug with him? The police?

To me, so far in this report, Ecstasy has been portrayed more positively than negatively.)

TOMMY 4-07-44
All your life you hear crack kills, don’t blow coke, don’t smoke pot, heroin’s no good. You don’t hear nothing about E. You don’t hear nothing.//The word ain’t out there.
ALL THAT IS ABOUT TO CHANGE.
(sound up music from psa)
YESTERDAY, THE ANTI-DRUG GROUP–THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A DRUG FREE AMERICA LAUNCHED THE FIRST NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO GET OUT THE WORD ON THE DANGERS OF ECSTASY.

(JM: Channel One makes big money off running anti-drug ads. Even if they are ineffective or are age-inappropriate for certain students, this money is keeping Channel One in business.)

[setup of hanson]

GLEN HANSON 18-26-50 (Dir. of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.) Young people don’t understand that there are some folks, some users who are very vulnerable to side effects, even to the extent of death.

[GRAPHIC-ECSTASY]
THE PARTNERSHIP SURVEYED NEARLY SEVEN THOUSAND TEENAGERS… AND FOUND THAT BETWEEN 1995 AND 2001… THE PERCENTAGE OF TEENAGERS USING ECSTASY MORE THAN DOUBLED… GOING FROM FIVE PERCENT TO 12 PERCENT. THE NEW AD CAMPAIGN WILL FOCUS ON SOME OF THE DRUG’S DANGEROUS SIDE EFFECTS:
(Sound up PSA)
She was my baby, my youngest daughter..
MANY OF THE ADS ARE BASED ON TRUE CASES, LIKE THAT OF 21 YEAR OLD DANIELLE HEIRD WHO ALSO DIED AFTER TAKING ESCTASY. THE IDEA OF THE CAMPAIGN IS TO COUNTER THE IMPRESSION AMONG TEENS THAT ECSTASY IS HARMLESS.
GLEN HANSON 18-26-50
We know that it can cause damage to the brain. We know that it can impair certain brain functions. We know that it can affect mood.
I TALKED TO DR, THOMAS NEWTON, A PSYCHIATRIST WHO HAS STUDIED THE IMPACT OF ECSTASY ON THE BRAIN.
[andrew]
If I’m a teen and my friends are saying take this x, what are the factors — the risk factors that I have to consider before taking a drug like that, what are the possible outcomes?

NEWTON
It can cause worsening of depression, it can cause onset of depression and it can cause cognitive impairment. those are the least of our worries because we don’t know what are the long term consequences.
BUT CONVINCING YOUNG PEOPLE THAT ECSTASY ISN’T THE HARMLESS DRUG THEY BELIEVE IT IS, WON’T BE EASY.

(JM: Notice that children are urged to weigh the benefits and risks of taking drugs. That is stupid and irresponsible. You just don’t do drugs. With Channel One, it’s a cost/benefit equation.

Why did the Channel One reporter say convincing young people that Ecstasy isn’t harmless won’t be easy? Why is he talking for all young people? What message does that say to the great majority of students forced to watch Channel One who don’t know much if anything about this drug? The friendly Channel One reporter strongly implied that those kids in the know about this drug believe it to be harmless. Who is a young person going to trust?

This is sloppy writing by the producer of this segment. I am sure Channel One’s staff doesn’t intentionally want to send young people wrong messages about drugs but they constantly do that very thing. It would be interesting to know what Channel One on-air reporters think about using drugs. Do they currently smoke marijuana? Do they use Ecstacy? Have they ever used either? It is a broader question, we will go into later – Who are these Channel One reporters? Are they the type of people you want talking to your child each day?)

[NEWTON]
I think the most important thing to think about is not whats going to happen in this specific episode.// I think that if you just look back at all the other drugs and abuse the downside didnt show up for a couple years after it got going and the people were already caught up in it by then.

(JM: Hold on. This “expert” is saying not to worry about taking Ecstasy the first couple of times. The “downside” might not show up for “a couple of years.” Maybe this man is wrong. Maybe there should be worry about this “specific episode.” Young people tend to dismiss dangers that are years away. They will reason they can always quit this drug just like the first young man interviewed in this story.)

[v/o i dont know what]
FOR SOME ECSTASY USERS… THE DOWNSIDE HAS ALREADY ARRIVED:
3535 seth tape– when i started hearing about people ODing…. finsih it off

[TAG ECSTASY]
[AIRDATE=02/12/02]
[PRO=ENAS]
[TALENT=ANDREW]
(ANDREW ON CAM)
THOSE INCREASES IN ECSTASY USE HAVE HAD ANOTHER CONSEQUENCE – EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS INVOLVING ECSTASY USERS ARE UP TEN FOLD SINCE 1995.
[BE BACK]
[AIRDATE=02/12/02]

(JM: Communities should be in charge of formulatingan anti-drug program in schools, not Channel One. Channel One’s idea of drug education may be opposite what a community wants for its children.

Channel One’s editorial content is the same for middle school children as it is for high school. What you tell a senior may be too much for a 6th grader. Channel One’s content is uniformly geared to older high school students. Notice the ages of the students they interview. Most are high school students because middle school students will watch a HS student talk, but it doesn’t work the other way. Too many 11-year-olds talking and high schoolers, who already tend to think of Channel One as a geeky show, would tune the show out for good..)