Historically, how has moral panic transformed over time?

Kiah Earl

(think about the shift from news being on TV to social media platforms)

1. Radio Broadcast:

Orson Welles – “The War of the World’s” (1938)


  • writers thought the story was too outlandish to be believed by the general population.
  • CBS for 17 weeks: “Mercury Theatre on Air”
  • Newspapers took this opportunity to reclaim the market by calling the radio a non-credible source of news.

“I had conceived the idea of doing a radio broadcast in such a manner that a crisis would actually seem to be happening,” he said, “and would be broadcast in such a dramatized form as to appear to be a real event taking place at that time, rather than a mere radio play.” – Orson Welles

2. Comic Books: 

Fredric Wertham – “Seduction of the Innocent (1950s)

  • Led the anti-comics movement that argued that comic books negatively impacted the imagination of otherwise “normal” children.
  • Blamed comic books for exposing children to violence, homosexuality, and erotic behavior. (ex. Superman=Nazi Germany, Batman and Robin=Homosexuality, Wonder Woman=Lesbian)
  • Wertham’s ideas spread rapidly in postwar (WWII) America, and many patriotic organizations and churches planned book burnings.
  • Resulted in the comic book industry declining. Credited for bringing the entire comic book industry down.

3. TV broadcasting & Print Journalism 

HIV/AIDS & sex represented in the media (1980s) “The Gay 80’s”

ex.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oWu7FR-hZ0

4. Social media/Citizen Journalism:

  • based upon public citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information.
  • citizens can often report breaking news more quickly than traditional media reporters.

ex. the debate, police brutality (2014+)

Citizen Journalism main image.jpg

Works Cited:






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