Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Library Challenges Efficiency vs. Accuracy

Cullen Quigley

Chloë Grace Moretz as Caitlin Gabriel-The Public Theater, New York, New York

Generic Plot Summary

Watching The Library takes you on an extensive journey with leading character Caitlin Gabriel. Through a battlefield of truth and lies, Gabriel must take on an aggressive media and a stark reality that comes with the aftermath of a school shooting.

Through a very complex narrative, a viewer must decide if Gabriel is truly at fault or if the media manufactured her fate after losing control of the story.

The Role of 'The Media'

Throughout the play, the media is exposed as the elephant in the room. Ultimately, the media controls Caitlin Gabriel's narrative despite her desperate plea to correct and reveal the truth.

On the surface, the media is referenced as the source who exposed Gabriel and the reaction that followed: people writing "rat" in spray paint in front of her house, Gabriel's best friend not returning her phone calls, and her parents reluctance to show her the news online, in print, and on television days following the shooting.

However, the audience realizes that the media becomes a dire consequence for Gabriel as the story in the media doesn't match her own. Due to the fast paced nature of the media trying to provide the public with answers, the truth gets lost in a biased and assumed result.

Gabriel is denied monetary compensation as she becomes a political risk, the doctors performing her surgeries derogatorily make gossip over what they presumed happened-dehumanizing her, and even her Catholic priest tries to prod a falsified confession out of her. The result is that the media has affected every aspect of her life: personal, economic, and social.

No matter what Gabriel reveals from her memory, the media has turned everyone against her without taking her side into account.

The Journalistic Problems

As journalists, we are taught to be efficient but accurate. However in The Library we learn that though the media is there to inform in today's digital landscape, sometimes efficiency beats accuracy resulting in poor journalism. We see this one key element in Joy Sheridan's argument with Gabriel and her parents as Sheridan dismisses that the media could possibly be wrong.

Since the media reported false information about Sheridan, she justifies the false information in exchange for convenience through efficiency. Sheridan suggest that efficiency helps bring people closure because it gives quick answers even if they may not be completely true. She is firm in her belief that Gabriel is at fault even though it is discovered in the end that it was actually Sheridan's daughter who was at fault.

The original story snowballs into a different narrative despite Gabriel trying to correct it halfway through the play by speaking to a reporter. The reporter still tailored the story against her with Sheridan's book backing a fabricated story and with no sufficient evidence to back Gabriel, it only casted her further in a negative light.

Rumors, assumptions, and bias take a role over Gabriel's fate even though we discover she was right the entire time. The public is so quick to judge, put blame, and label suspects in a scenario that sometimes justice isn't served until people have already taken sides.

Finally, when Ryan Mayes reveals to the police a recollection that doesn't match his original statement, the audience realizes the damage has already been done. You can't erase the media. His declaration that Gabriel was the student who ratted out the others to the shooter is an example that the media can take on a false story when the answer could have been properly discovered in the very beginning.

Is efficiency better than accuracy? That's for you to decide.

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