Presentation on theme: "Social Problems: Media and the Construction of Social Problems Robert Wonser Spring 2012."— Presentation transcript:
Social Problems: Media and the Construction of Social Problems Robert Wonser Spring 2012
Where does knowledge come from? Knowledge is socially constructed (i.e. shaped by culture and social systems) and we depend on it for our sense of realty. Most of what we know is obtained from others, including media. Media have a certain cultural authority for an audience to accept the authority they impart into our own sense of reality.
Media and Social Problems Where does the media fit in? Is media coverage essential for a social problem’s survival? Altheide (1997) argues the media use a problem frame to present information in a way that merges news and entertainment. Media create a “secular version of a morality play” Problem frame reduces complex or ambiguous events to a simplistic moral truth that fits the current structure of news programming. Such framing promotes messages of fear
Culture of Fear Culture of fear refers to fear generated by the mass media through a variety of techniques. Ex: killer bees, flesh-eating bacteria, swine flu, terrorists, crime, etc. Culture of fear originates in the structure and needs of the media (in terms of viewers and income). “Power and money await those who tap into our moral insecurities and supply us with moral substitutes.” - Glassner
Sensationalism or Propaganda “if it bleeds it leads” Ten things in your kitchen that could kill you! – tune in at eleven! Propaganda refers to some kind of message (e.g. political, marketing) intended to influence people’s opinions or behaviors. According to Herman and Chomsky, the primary function of the US media is to mobilize public backing for government or private-sector interests. Elites control info by selecting which issues are covered/avoided, shaping (or framing) issues, controlling info, restricting debates.
Media as secondary Claimsmaker Bandwagon technique: an appeal to join the crowd Loaded terminology/name-calling: media describe people in a loaded way (ex: baby killers, commies, terrorists). Call on credibility: media appeal to respect for authority to gain support for a particular issue (ex: using scientists, politicians, academics who support the claim). Anomalous events presented as trends: media focus on rare events makes them seem more common Use of emotions over objective information: when media frame stories around an emotional lens rather than a factual one