The influence of cultural media studies on media trends has gained considerable interest among media scientists over the past decade. This new paradigm has been used to interpret the effect and relationship between mass media and the social structure. This aspect of media can be interrogated from various perspectives in any piece of media material.
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The dominant and subordinate group’s perspective for instance offers a capitalist-based division and segregation of the social structure. The capitalist society is divided along gender race nationality ethnicity among other factors. The extent of division in the social structure however depend s heavily on the situation and circumstances. This therefore causes a constant struggle for attention and prominent among the dominant and subordinate groups.
This extends to the cultural arena where the conquest is based on the need for recognition and respect by fellow members of society. The dominant group seeks to naturalize the minority and subordinate groups while the subordinate groups on the other hand resist the naturalization. This interplay allows a media material to shape the audience mode of thinking to accept certain states of affairs and live by them.
The participants of the Iraqi war have been branded as terrorists and this has been cultivated into the minds of the mass that such persons are dangerous. The key note significantly portrays the war of groups such as between the pro war and anti-war activists (Gordon 1997 p35).
The hegemony perspective suggests that disadvantaged groups and personalities tend to support a negative or substantially negative stand with the aim of getting back at the society for marginalizing them. Disadvantaged members of the voting society therefore readily support the lesser of good policy manifesto or ideology. They are easily swayed by a clever advertisement that sways their loyalty. This therefore means that there is a certain category of persons who are really influenced due to either lack of knowledge or insufficient knowledge. The media was manipulated strategically positioned and stage managed into a smooth selling narrative with a pro war agenda (Sparks 2006, p89).
The polysemy perspective on the other hand suggests that different people have different perspectives to an advertisement. The difference is caused by the variance in the individual’s personal experiences beliefs attitudes values interests as well as their level of knowledge. This therefore means that not every person who reads and sees an advertisement with guns and gunfire between soldiers and civilians interprets it to mean the one thing.
Others will sympathize with one side others will feel agitated by the thought of war while others enjoy the thrill of the thought. These diverse conceptions can however be categorized into three main categories. The dominant or preferred readers agree and accept dominant thought. They for instance will go for the majority conception that the Iraqis themselves are to blame for the continued war. They therefore readily receive ideology as long as it’s the dominant opinion.
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The negotiated reader neither questions nor disagrees with the dominant opinion but goes on to add aspects of their social or personal experience and knowledge into the situation for a better and personalized conception. They will therefore employ their individual moral and ethical stands on war into the whole Iraq war business. The resistant or oppositional reader on the other hand will disagree with the propositions of determinant thought and goes on to develop their own independent explanation.
The story telling value of the piece and the narrative quality of the key note allows it to generate sustain and maintain interest in the listener and inspires a sense of curiosity. It need not begin with the prescribed beginning notation but it has a beginning a climax and an end all of which are important in narration. They allow the audience to maintain consistent and interested stream of thought.
The Toronto school paradigm
The technological determinism assumption suggests that the capacity provided by the available technological means must be fully exploited. The manner and extent of the exploitation however depends on the technology its self. In effect the technological capacity of a society determines its potential since all other factors are deemed to rarely interact and depend on technology in one way or another. Social constructs are therefore a mere by product of the technological segregation based on the access ownership distribution and interaction with technology (Deakin University (DU) 2009, p1-7).
Globalization on the other hand perceives of the world as an interconnection of technologies. These technologies are linked and jointed together by satellites fiber optics and other technological digital mechanisms. Therefore the message may be common but the manner in which it is presented determines heavily how it will be received and interpreted. A picture and a cartoon of the same will give different perceptions of the same picture (Cunningham and Flew 1997, p23), the quality and manner of the presentation of the information determines the message that will be conveyed. The American media for instance maintains a slim margin between coverage and reporting as is criticized by the key note.
The reporting of war and war related issues rely heavily on the mode in which they are presented. The media could for instance provide a live coverage of a bombing in Iraq in the alternative of a narrated story of the bombing with several pictures. The level of seriousness that comes with the live coverage by passes the attention that the listener gives to the narration and written text.
The determinist view on the advent of technology suggests that the constraints that are caused by distance have been overcome by the harmony in the various technological appliances. During the earlier wars such as the world war, certain events went unnoticed and unreported due to the constraints of distance and communication barriers. The onset of technology has converted the information market into a global society. This therefore implies that every death bombing or gunfire that reaches the reporting desk had a chance at the global arena (Fitzgerald 2001p 35).
This has however suffered the influence and pollution of politics that has allowed mass media to be infected by propaganda. The threat caused by Iraq for instance was marred by the self interest and propaganda with the interested parties using the media such as the newspapers and televisions. The mass media was used to feed the society with the power ideology especially after the September 11 attacks. The international opinion was greatly ignored and became a tool of war giving the administration a justification to bypass the international community restrictions and cautions. (Hall 1996, pp. 128–38). The commencement of the war was therefore motivated by inaccurate exaggerated and incorrect media reporting.
The critical theory paradigm
The mass media in the United States took a dominant ideology on a pro war perspective. The media took a cheerleading role in the motivating and stimulating of pro-war ideologies that subsequently catalyzed the subsequent attach of the Iraqis. This was mainly done through print and visual media which provided exaggerated information on the casualties and effects of the various terrorist attacks causing a more than proportionate reaction from the society. The majority of the media housed preached pro war messages that molded and developed into dominant thought.
There actually existed alternative viable options that could be explored instead of pro war ideologies. There was a considerable and available option of international interventions thought the international community. Bodies such as the United Nations had the capacity to interpretively and comprehensively investigate the claims of possession weapons of mass destruction. The united nations had commenced a weapons investigation in to the claims but due to the polluted media coverage and reporting the united states by passed these alternatives and went on to launch a defensive war (Fiske 1992, pp. 284–326)
The coverage of war and war related issues is a matter of public interest and stirs the majority opinion on the effects and consequences as well as the implications of the war. In as long as the media continues to feed the people with war related information the more the people became more agitated. The failure of media to interrogate and question the implications of a certain ideology causes dire consequences such as those of the Iraqi war.
The critical responsibility that is borne by critical journalists and key note presenters maintains a continuous and viable force that drives the mass media movement in a consistent and stable direction. The media has however been corrupted and literally employed to serve specific interests. The media left the anti war activists to be marginalized and choked by the dominant thought. This therefore means that the pentagon made a strategic and planned media strategies that moved beyond the mere public relations developing the attack of Iraq as a sweet narrative that presented Iraq as the problem and an attack as the only solution.
The plans were highly funded and motivated with media being given hints and leads that compromised actual proper reporting. Individual reporter’s rights such as the BBC news reporters were violated and not reported in Bagdad to secure their offices. This therefore means that the fancy for a war was up and motivated and there was no turning back. This led to the subsequent attach and death of thousands of citizens and innocent persons.
Cunningham, S & Flew, T (1997) ‘Media futures’, in S Cunningham & G Turner(eds), The media in Australia: industries, texts, audiences, 2nd edn,Allen & Unwin, St Leonards.
Deakin University(DU). (2009) Approaches to media: Audiences and Effects.Custom Publication –Cengage Learning. Deakin University: Geelong.
Fiske, J. (1992) British cultural studies and television, in RC Allen (ed.),Channels of discourse, reassembled, 2nd edn. Routledge, London,pp. 284–326.
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Fitzgerald, J. (2001) Marshall McLuhan: wiseguy, XYZ Publishing, Montreal, Canada.
Gordon, W.T. (1997) Marshall McLuhan: escape into understanding—a biography. Basic Books. New York.
Hall, S. (1996) ‘Encoding/decoding’, in S Hall, D Hobson, A Lowe &P Willis (eds), Culture, media, language, Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham.UK, pp. 128–38.
Sparks, G.G. (2006) Media effects research: a basic overview, 2nd edn, Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. California: Belmont.