(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”
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+)
Moral panics maintains hegemony and serve to justify the agendas of those in positions of power (ex. government, CEOs).
Hegemony: the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group. Stay in tact through the use of signifying and signifiers (ex. “Trailer park trash”).
Moral panics have three distinguishing characteristics:
- Focused attention on the behavior, whether real or imagined. The media strips people of their positive qualities and assigns exclusively negative characteristics. (ex. Shootings in Dallas).
- Threat is far less than perceived. Media exaggerates before knowing the facts.
- Results in the passing of legislation that it unnecessary and serves the agenda of those in power.
Stanley Cohen: theorist and author of “Folk Devils and Moral Panics” (1972). Cohen said that moral panic occurs when a condition, episode, person or group emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests.
- the media plays a massive role in enforcing moral panic.
- the media overreact to behaviors that challenge existing social norms
- media response and representation of the behavior aids in defining it, communicating it,and portraying it as a model for outsiders to observe and adopt.
Cohen says that three processes are involved when developing moral panic:
- Exaggeration and distortion of who did or said what.
- Prediction of the dire consequences of failure to act upon whatever is being presented.
- Symbolization that signifies the threat.
Moral panic sends society into mass hysteria over a particular issue or event that occurs. The public believes that whatever is being reported is happening everywhere (in their neighborhood).
- Ex. black lives matter movement and police brutality
Moral panic plays into young people as irresponsible and without having consequence for their actions.
- Ex. rioters in Ferguson