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- Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication
- Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication
- The Four Functions of Mass Communications
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Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication
In the second part of their analysis of the role of mass media in child abuse prevention, the authors discuss the benefits of mass media programs as a tool to advocate for children's rights and more specifically, to promote awareness of, and to prevent, child abuse. The authors emphasise that campaign strategies may only be successful to the degree that they are backed by community education and direct support programs.
Information gained from evaluations is highlighted, and recommendations for future media campaigns and initiatives are made. Increasingly, responsibility for children is not entrusted solely to parents or guardians but to whole communities Cohen, Ooms and Hutchins ; Korbin and Coulton Strategies that aim to optimise the experiences of children and young people, and to prevent child abuse and neglect, are therefore required to ascertain, and perhaps confront, commonly held community attitudes and responses to all children and young people, and to increase community awareness of issues that may affect children and young people.
According to the National Child Protection Council undated: 9, cited in Hawkins, McDonald, Davison and Coy : 'Prevention of abuse involves changing those individual and community attitudes, beliefs and circumstances which allow the abuse to occur. The media play a significant role in forming and influencing people's attitudes and behaviour.
Issues Paper 14, Child abuse and the media Goddard and Saunders , drew attention to the essential role of the media in increasing society's awareness of, and response to, child abuse and neglect. Of particular note was the part played by news and features that reported on specific child abuse cases, research and intervention strategies. Such media attention to child abuse has, at times, positively influenced public, professional and political responses to the circumstances in which children and young people find themselves.
Understanding media influences, and how to use the media constructively, may thus be an essential tool for those who advocate for children, young people, and their families see Brawley In addition to news stories, feature articles, and investigative journalism, sporadic mass media education and prevention campaigns are launched.
These campaigns usually endeavour to broaden community knowledge of child abuse and neglect, to influence people's attitudes towards children and young people, and to change behaviours that contribute to, or precipitate, the problem of child abuse and neglect in our communities.
For several reasons, however, the effectiveness of these campaigns remains contentious. Primarily, the effectiveness of mass media in the prevention of child abuse and neglect is debatable. For example, Rayner argues that 'media campaigns are bloody expensive' and their impact is difficult to determine. Expensive media campaigns may be hard to justify in a political climate where limited funds and resources are provided to address children's needs. Further, McDevitt cites O'Keefe and Reed to note that: 'At best, the media are "effective at building citizen awareness of an issue" but more complex attitudinal or behavioural change requires "more direct forms of citizen contact and intervention".
Others argue, however, that mass media campaigns and media coverage of the abuse and neglect of children perform an important and significant role in placing issues such as child abuse on the public and political agenda.
Lindsey maintains that: 'Media has a central role in mediating information and forming public opinion. The media casts an eye on events that few of us directly experience and renders remote happenings observable and meaningful.
As Wurtele and Miller-Perrin have observed, media coverage of child sexual assault has contributed to demystifying and reducing the secrecy that has characteristically surrounded its occurrence.
Similarly, a review of the literature on mass media campaigns reveals many examples of campaigns impacting on public knowledge about issues such as work safety, drug and alcohol use, drink-driving, speeding, cigarette smoking, obesity, AIDS, and domestic violence. Mass media present the opportunity to communicate to large numbers of people and to target particular groups of people. As observed by Gamble and Gamble , mass communication is significantly different from other forms of communication.
They note that mass communication has the capacity to reach 'simultaneously' many thousands of people who are not related to the sender. It depends on 'technical devices' or 'machines' to quickly distribute messages to diverse audiences often unknown to each other. It is accessible to many people, but may be avoided. It is orchestrated by specialists whose intent is to persuade potential audiences of the benefits of their attention.
It is 'controlled by gatekeepers' who censor the content of messages. And finally, unlike one-to-one communication, it produces only minimal, delayed feedback to its senders. However, mass communication simultaneously presents opportunities and limitations, both of which require consideration when planning mass media assisted eradication of social problems such as child abuse and neglect. According to Wellings and Macdowall 23 , drawing on Tones et al. The limitations of the mass media are that they are less effective in conveying complex information, in teaching skills, in shifting attitudes and beliefs, and in changing behaviour in the absence of other enabling factors.
Campaigns, and other forms of media education and entertainment such as television programs, film and live productions , may be targeted at all families with a view to encouraging positive attitudes toward children and stopping abuse before it starts or is even considered primary prevention. Groups of people identified as particularly susceptible to abusive behaviour may be targeted secondary prevention. Further, a campaign or program may target families in which abuse has already occurred with the intention of preventing recurrence of the abuse tertiary prevention.
Thus, a well-focused mass media campaign, educational program or live-theatre production has the potential to contribute successfully to community education and the prevention of child abuse and neglect. However, as will be emphasised throughout this Issues Paper, campaign strategies may only be successful to the degree that they are backed by community education and support programs:. A report on a recent Western Australian mass mediabased campaign, 'Freedom from Fear', which targeted male perpetrators of domestic violence, identified 'five potential message strategies' for mass media prevention campaigns Donovan et al.
These strategies grew out of a review of the literature and interviews with domestic violence workers. Each of these five strategies has strengths and weaknesses that warrant consideration in the formation of media messages for education and prevention campaigns.
This Issues Paper describes some recent and past mass media education and prevention campaigns, television programs, films, and live theatre productions. Their raison d'? Information gained from evaluations is highlighted and recommendations for future media campaigns and initiatives are made. The primary focus of this paper is the media-assisted prevention of all forms of child abuse and neglect. However, examples of mass media-based prevention in other areas such as health and safety are drawn upon, and each of the message strategies noted above Donovan et al.
In the year reports of child abuse and neglect to Australian child protection authorities numbered 49, The physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect of children have a long recorded history. In the mid to late s, Toulmouche, Tardieu, Bernard and Lacassagne reported that children were often sexually assaulted, that children reported honestly about their abuse, and that the perpetrators of abuse were often the children's fathers and brothers Olafsen, Corwin and Summit Corby notes that Kempe's 'discovery' of the battered child syndrome in , and the 'discovery' of child sexual abuse in Britain in the s were in fact 're-discoveries'.
According to Corby 16 : 'Child abuse is not a new phenomenon, nor is public or state concern about it. Nevertheless fresh attempts to tackle child mistreatment are usually accompanied by the declaration that it is a new and as yet undiscovered problem.
This 'newness' is seen as an important part of the process of establishing it as an issue requiring resources to tackle it. Historically, children have been accorded little, if any, status in society. Deprived of rights and perceived as the property of their parents or guardians, children could be treated any way their 'owners' saw fit see Cleverley and Phillips ; Archard In this context, community awareness and acceptance of the reality of child abuse, particularly child abuse perpetrated by family members, has been slow.
Such beliefs may present people with a means of turning a blind eye to the reality that child abuse is often perpetrated by adults well known to children, in children's own homes, and in other trusted environments. In relation to child sexual abuse, for example, Kitzinger and Skidmore 53 quote one interviewee from Kidscape in the United Kingdom: 'People don't want to be associated with child abuse as incest.
Olafsen, Corwin and Summit have argued that cycles of awareness followed by suppression have typified society's response to child sexual abuse. Arguably, this has been society's response to all forms of child abuse and neglect of children. Mass media education and prevention campaigns present one means of breaking cycles of suppression and denial. The media have played a key role in periodically placing the issue of child abuse on the public agenda.
This section discusses: images of children and young people in society and in the media; media influences on children and children's rights; and the impact of media campaigns on the victims of child abuse.
Journalists willing to advocate for children and young people face the challenge of counterbalancing negative images or 'demonisation' Franklin and Horwath of children and, particularly, of adolescents, in print, television and film.
Starkly contrasting with once popular views of childhood as a time of innocence, less than positive images of children and young people in the media may place obstacles in the path of attempts to prevent their abuse and neglect. It is notable that child abuse media prevention campaigns rarely, if ever, focus on the maltreatment of adolescents rather attention is given to societal problems, perhaps stemming from child abuse, such as drug use, youth suicide and chroming see Goddard and Tucci Similarly, as observed by Mendes 50 , drawing on Vinson , Aldridge and Wilczynski and Sinclair : 'Structural disadvantages contributing to child abuse and neglect such as poverty, unemployment, and gender or race-based discrimination are rendered invisible [in the media].
A comparison of the media coverage of three child murder cases - two in the United Kingdom and one in Australia - highlights significantly different images of children created, or reinforced, by media comment. Alder and Polk observe the language used and attitudes portrayed in the media coverage. In , yearold Mary Bell murdered two boys, aged three and four in the UK.
Twenty-five years later, in, two ten-year-old boys murdered two-year-old Jamie Bulger in the UK, and in Australia in , a ten-year-old boy was charged with drowning a six-year-old playmate. According to Alder and Polk , while media commentary in the Mary Bell case expressed 'concern for the offender' who was perceived by many as the 'surviving child of this tragedy', the latter two cases predominantly yielded media commentary that described the child offenders as 'evil', callous and reckless.
Alder and Polk contend that: 'What may have changed in the years since the Bell case is the gradual evolution of an internationalised media, capable of the instantaneous transfer of 'infotainment' around the globe. Franklin and Horwath further observe a concerning change in society's perception of children which, as Tomison has noted, extends to adolescents. Less often perceived as 'innocent' and 'innately good', it seems a child or young person may now be portrayed as a 'powerful, destructive human being' Franklin and Horwath The cases described above are distressing and uncommon.
Negative images of children perhaps stemming from such cases , and media reinforcement of feelings that children and young people are a burden on families and on society, do not assist in the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Further exploration of the lives experienced by young offenders, while not detracting from the horror of events that occur, almost invariably reveals their own victimisation as children or as adolescents.
Moreover, as Tomison 22 claims, perceiving children as 'powerful' and 'evil' beings may 'dehumanise' children and serve to justify child abuse. He further contends that the negative portrayal of children in the media may result in victims of abuse blaming themselves for their abuse. Victims may be led to believe that they deserved the assaults perpetrated against them, and thus accept their abuse as justified.
Further, Tomison cites Winn and Garbarino to note that these negative images of children may indeed be magnified once the child becomes an adolescent. Negative stereotypes of young people, he contends, may contribute to the incidence of adolescent maltreatment, exacerbating 'the problems of troubled youth in troubled families, providing a justification for unresponsive parenting and increasing the probability of serious family conflict' Tomison By putting pressure on governments to increase community supports for children and families, and by presenting positive, empathetic images of children and young people, the media may have a powerful influence in preventing, rather than perhaps indirectly promoting, child maltreatment.
As Walby 25 argues: 'Children and childhood need to be better appreciated; families with children need a more supportive environment; issues affecting children need more sophisticated debate; and services for children and the people who work for them need more support from the public. The impact of media advertising on children and adolescents is well documented, as is concern about some aspects of the media's powerful influence on children's attitudes and behaviours see, for example, Macklin and Carlson ; Inquiry into the Effects of Television and Multimedia on Children and Families in Victoria Television may be 'a more powerful socialisation agent than peers and teachers' Hutson, Watkins and Kunkel cited in Walsh, Laczniak, and Carlson In evidence given to the Victorian Government Inquiry into the Effects of Television and Multimedia on Children and Families in Victoria, Michael Carr-Gregg 68 further endorses this view: 'Contrary to some claims, many people in the medical, public health, and scientific communities are in agreement that the relationship between television violence and aggression and violence in young people does exist.
Exhaustive reviews of the evidence accumulated over 40 years - and we are talking about different studies - have led researchers to conclude unequivocally that mass media significantly contributes to the aggressive behaviour and attitudes of many children, adolescents, and, of course, adults. However, this power of the media to negatively influence children's attitudes and behaviours may be used to impact positively on the lives of children and adolescents.
According to the Inquiry into the Effects of Television and Multimedia on Children and Families in Victoria 35 : 'Qualitative evidence suggests that quality children's television can enhance child development by providing positive role models of cooperation and collaboration as a responsible way of acting in the world.
Indeed, the constructive use of mass media can assist in teaching children and young people socially desirable ways of dealing with conflict, knowledge of their rights to integrity and protection from harm, healthy eating habits and lifestyles, and ways to assert themselves and their rights in a positive, acceptable manner.
As noted in the Inquiry into the Effects of Television and Multimedia on Children and Families in Victoria 37 , evaluations of educational television programs, designed either for pre-schoolers or for older children, have suggested their effectiveness in 'heightening a range of social behaviours' Friedrich and Stein , diminishing 'the effects of stereotyping' Johnston and Ettema , increasing 'preparedness for adolescence' Singer and Singer , and stimulating the discussion of 'solutions to general social issues' Johnston, Bauman, Milne, and Urdan Research suggests that, at least in the short term, television viewing of such programs may increase children's and young people's knowledge and positively change attitudes and behaviours.
Unfortunately, longitudinal studies exploring sustained effects are rare and thus inconclusive. The Inquiry into the Effects of Television and Multimedia on Children and Families in Victoria 33 further notes that television 'is one of the most popular forms of mass communication and entertainment in Australia [and] has been under-utilised as an educative tool', and suggests that perhaps narrow vision has meant that the deliberate use of television simultaneously to entertain and educate has not been fully recognised.
Despite this, Postman has argued that television is rapidly becoming 'the first curriculum', with educational institutions such as schools following behind. According to the Inquiry into the Effects of Television and Multimedia on Children and Families in Victoria 1 : 'The one thing on which the critics and the defenders of television agree is that it is a central and pervasive part of modern life.
Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication
The four functions of mass communications are: surveillance, correlation, cultural transmission and entertainment. In many ways, the four functions of mass communication are still relevant and transferable to contemporary media. Mass communication exists to observe and inform. Mass media keeps citizens informed of news and events. In times of crisis, mass media announcements offer warnings and instructions. For example, when natural disasters occur, such as hurricanes, blizzards and tsunamis, traditional and social media outlets are the key communication tools to relay information about the path of an impending storm or to inform people about school and business closures, and how to seek shelters and find evacuation routes.
The Four Functions of Mass Communications
In the second part of their analysis of the role of mass media in child abuse prevention, the authors discuss the benefits of mass media programs as a tool to advocate for children's rights and more specifically, to promote awareness of, and to prevent, child abuse. The authors emphasise that campaign strategies may only be successful to the degree that they are backed by community education and direct support programs. Information gained from evaluations is highlighted, and recommendations for future media campaigns and initiatives are made. Increasingly, responsibility for children is not entrusted solely to parents or guardians but to whole communities Cohen, Ooms and Hutchins ; Korbin and Coulton Strategies that aim to optimise the experiences of children and young people, and to prevent child abuse and neglect, are therefore required to ascertain, and perhaps confront, commonly held community attitudes and responses to all children and young people, and to increase community awareness of issues that may affect children and young people.
In cultural studies , media culture refers to the current Western capitalist society that emerged and developed from the 20th century, under the influence of mass media. The alternative term mass culture conveys the idea that such culture emerges spontaneously from the masses themselves, like popular art did before the 20th century. Another alternative term for media culture is "image culture.
Cultural studies is a field of theoretically, politically, and empirically engaged cultural analysis that concentrates upon the political dynamics of contemporary culture, its historical foundations, defining traits, conflicts, and contingencies. Cultural studies researchers generally investigate how cultural practices relate to wider systems of power associated with or operating through social phenomena, such as ideology , class structures , national formations , ethnicity , sexual orientation , gender , and generation. Cultural studies views cultures not as fixed, bounded, stable, and discrete entities, but rather as constantly interacting and changing sets of practices and processes. Although distinct from the discipline of cultural anthropology and the interdisciplinary field of ethnic studies , cultural studies draws upon and has contributed to each of these fields.
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