How powerful is our voice and our presence as civil society in the media environment?
When we were little children, some of us were encouraged to always say what we needed to say and some of us on the contrary were told to respect other people’s opinions before ours and not interfere when adults were voicing their opinions and therefore developed a more or less submissive character when it comes to voice our ideas. These ways of approaching the world shaped the way in which we voice our opinions as adults, and helped us distinguish between what we communicate and what we think is better to keep quiet or buried in the darkest corner of our beings.
In the same way, the media environment shapes the way we voice our opinions or the way we become quiet about them, and also contributes to the production of meaning and culture in our societies (Castells, 2007).
Is media as caring as our parents were when presenting us with their view of the world?
Does media really care about the outcome of the way civil society is being shaped and what the cost of this is?
Does media really care about feeding us well? Is it giving us what we want to consume?
What implications do power relations and framing have in the way we consume the stories that are presented to us in the media?
When discussing further the role of media in our lives, we should analyse power relations, which are those forces that establish and form the basis of every society, and understand how these power relations also depend on communications (Castells, 2007).
Besides, it is necessary to see how these power relations contribute to framing the experience we have of the world in the same way our parents contributed to frame the experience of the world around us when they caringly presented us with their vision of the world.
Frames basically present the visions or judgements of those who create the messages or ‘framers’ (Hallahan, 1999) and set a specific scenario of meaning and interpretation.
This can further be analysed by distinguishing between media frames, which have been understood as ‘devices embedded in political discourse’ and individual frames that refer to ‘internal structures of the mind’ (Scheufele, 1999) which are shaped since childhood. Both of them contribute to the way we understand the media environment and the way we engage with what is presented to us.
In addition, media stories are also shaped by the consumers that devour these stories, who also possess their individual framing.
Media stories are also produced by journalists who also have a specific individual framing, therefore not all the process of framing is made consciously (Hackett, cited in Hallahan, 1999), but responds to the ‘internal structures of the mind’ (Scheufele,1999) (Jung, 1964) of those who tell and read the story.
Are we passive victims of this big puzzle of media, framing and power relations? Can we contribute to change this scenario? Is our voice valid inside this landscape?
We still have a wide horizon to discover. We can contribute to shape it and become active creators or decide to remain as passive victims and silent spectators.
Note to readers: This post is part of my reflections of Critical Issues in Campaigning at the University of Westminster MA in Media Campaigning and Social Change.
Castells, M. (2007). Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society. International Journal of Communication, 1, 238–266. Available from: http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/46/35
Hallahan, K. (1999). Seven Models of Framing: Implications for Public Relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, //(3), 205-242. Available from: http://www4.ncsu.edu/~amgutsch/Hallahan.pdf
Jung C,G. (1964). Man and His Symbols. Anchor Press Doubleday New York London Toronto Sydney Auckland.
Scheufele, D.A (1999). Framing as a Theory of Media Effects. Journal of Communication, International Communication Association. Available from: http://www.phil-fak.uni-duesseldorf.de/fileadmin/Redaktion/Institute/Sozialwissenschaften/Kommunikations-_und_Medienwissenschaft/Vowe/Forschergruppe/Scheufele_Framing_theory_media_effects.pdf
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