Presentation on theme: "TERRORISM IS SO PASSÉ: AN ANALYSIS OF WHETHER NEWS COVERAGE OF VIOLENCE IS DESENSITIZING VIEWERS IN PAKISTAN Amrat Haq School of Communication Hong Kong."— Presentation transcript:
TERRORISM IS SO PASSÉ: AN ANALYSIS OF WHETHER NEWS COVERAGE OF VIOLENCE IS DESENSITIZING VIEWERS IN PAKISTAN Amrat Haq School of Communication Hong Kong Baptist University
Introduction & Objectives: For an audience of 9 million cable subscribers in Pakistan, there are approximately 81 local channels – of which 17 are 24-hr news channels. Violent news content has become a permanent feature in Pakistans news cycle. There is an urgent need to understand how this is affecting news viewers in terms of their emotional responses, i.e. to see whether it is leading to desensitization or not
What People Watch: * Other included Fashion, Educational and Religious categories
Desensitization: Desensitization refers to the idea that the more an individual is exposed to violence, the more violence will come to be seen as a normal and acceptable form of behavior. (Cantor & Wilson, 2003; Comstock & Scharrer, 1999; Gentile, 2003; Potter, 1999; Signorelli, 2003) or as a dulling of response in the following four domains: Cognition Emotion Behavior Physiology
Media, Terrorism & Desensitization: Television has become the leading news medium, with newspapers only supplementary to TVs instant, live, emotional coverage. Terrorism has all the hallmarks of being news that grabs and holds viewers attentions. And with the global reach of terrorism, it provides easy news for networks working under greater pressure to fill the 24 hour news cycle. This leads to continuous coverage and exposure of news, including that on terrorism
Constructs (organizational chart) DesensitizationEmpathy 1. Empathetic suffering 2. Positive sharing 3. Responsive crying 4. Feeling for others 5. emotional attention 6. Emotional contagion (deleted) Attitude towards Violence Attitude towards: 1. Laws & Regulations 2. News and Media Coverage 3. Graphic Images Compassion Fatigue Attitude towards: 1. Victims 2. Media
Questions: Does higher level of exposure lessen emotional responses to violent news stories? Will those exposed to more news on terrorism, be less likely to perceive the events covered in the news stories as violent? Will those exposed to more news on terrorism, be more likely to perceive the events covered in the news stories as commonplace? How does heavy exposure to news on terrorism affect viewers attitude towards the victims of terrorist acts?
Methodology: A 37-item questionnaire was developed A cross-sectional survey of 1200 participants from across Pakistan was conducted. One district from each province was selected, the districts were then further split on urban-rural basis. Punjab – Gujranwala Sindh – Hyderabad KP – Peshawar Balochistan – Quetta GB– Gilgit Federal – Islamabad 811 valid responses were received
Results: Respondents with heavy exposure to news reported weaker emotional responses to news on terrorism (r = -.16, p <.001). While the results for questions 2 & 3 were in the predicted direction (r = -.09, p =.07) & (r =.09, p =.07) they were not significant. Finally, respondents with high levels of TV news viewing reported weaker emotional responses to issues concerning victims welfare. (r = -.15, p <.01)
Implications The constant exposure to violence on news encourages the idea that aggressive behavior is normal. As peoples sensitivities to violence become increasingly dull, violent behavior may increase, in part because it is simply not recognized any longer as behavior that should be curtailed These lower levels of negative emotion associated with exposure to media violence may reduce the urgency to respond to violence in real life
Limitations: First level of analysis for the study, more of an overview than an in-depth look. Cross-sectional The sample is limited in its representativeness Did not include areas where there is no cable penetration.