One of the more recent global disasters that have received considerable levels of media coverage has been the civil war in Syria between the Syrian rebels and the troops still loyal to Bashar Al Assad (Wieseltier, 2012). Media coverage over this event has been rather sparse due to the sheer amount of fighting and deaths within the country, however, news reports filtering in from various sources have reported that thousands have died as a result of the conflict with hundreds of innocent civilians being caught in the crossfire. When examining the portrayal of the disaster in terms of its scale, scope and the number of casualties involved it can be seen that the portrayal of the events has been largely negative and is meant to elicit a certain adverse psychological impact on viewers. The portrayal of the war has concentrated on the deaths of women, children and innocent civilians. News reports continuously highlight how people have been butchered in their own homes by government assailants, how neighbor has turned against neighbor and how the most inhumane acts of cruelty have been performed all for the purpose of having a corrupt regime remain in power. The purpose of the portrayal is obvious, to elicit the most negative responses possible and to highlight the horrors of war, such is the case that most media outlets have actually followed in the same general outline. The only positive psychological effect that can be derived from this particular incident is that it brought to light the horrors and tragedies that can come about as a result of war through which people would develop a sufficient degree of abhorrence to the act that even the thought of war would be sickening (Brown, 2012). As for its negative psychological effects, these constitute a wide assortment of responses ranging from disgust at the deaths of innocent children to contempt for the Assad regime for letting things spiral out of control when he could have stepped down early on and ended the conflict before it truly escalated.
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It is interesting to note that one way in which the media coverage has influenced the behavior of viewers towards the Syrian conflict has been through its portrayal of the deaths of children as a direct result of government troops shelling several villages in order to drive out the entrenched rebels. By showing images of children with their skulls cracked open, bleeding from numerous open wounds or being cradled by openly weeping parents the media inadvertently villainized the regime without directly saying it. Viewers who saw such scenes and correlated them to the attack of the army would immediately feel nothing but disgust and contempt at the person responsible for such an atrocity. Another way in which the media has influenced the behaviors of viewers has been through its portrayal of Assad himself. They generally describe him as being detached, emotionless and without regard for the conflict around him. This as a result would also cause people to view him in a negative light without taking into consideration the factors that led to Assad acting in such a manner.
Brown, B. (2012). Syria’s Agony. Junior Scholastic, 114(14), 4.
Wieseltier, L. (2012). Damascus Calling. New Republic, 243(3), 36.