Researching MEDIA Audiences (101053)

week9 break




RMA 2013 Lecture 3 Notes

Background to Effects Research

•    If we see an audience as an object, then that object has no real power (Sullivan, 2013)
•    Mass audiences are faceless anonymous collections of millions of people (end 19C)
•    Use of statistics to understand populations used by government and business (early 20C)
•    New forms of mass media (radio, film) supports notions of mass audiences
•    All media research looks for effects!

Hypodermic needle theory:

•    Brett Lamb  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt5MjBlvGcY
•    Beauty and advertising http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAW4LIFYFng
•    The pron effect http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8ptP3qFIxA
•    12 yr old Vajazzling http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/girls-having-bikini-waxes-vajazzling-1787328

Effects theories

In a very useful summary of historical shifts in effects research, McQuail (1994: 328– 32) describes four phases which have developed over time in response to changing social environments, each building incrementally on what has gone before, including both incorporating and challenging the ‘old’ order. This is not to suggest that theory necessarily progresses in a neat and orderly fashion, since it is as likely to be cyclical as linear. But it is to indicate that there are key moments in the development of a field, which can be understood in the context of an organizing framework for understanding social phenomena.

1st phase — media as all-powerful
This research phase spans the turn of the twentieth century to the 1930s and the assumptions during that early period were that the mass media were highly influential and operated as modes of persuasion, if not control, in a one-way direction, from the economic and political elites to ‘the people’. However, this phase was more inferential and ideological than empirically driven, resting on the popularity of certain media forms and an assumption that the audiences for those messages were generally naïve and susceptible to covert propaganda.

2nd phase — challenge to the all-powerful media model
The move towards empirically oriented studies began as a challenge to the earlier theoretical ideas about media and effect and developed a more sophisticated research agenda which looked at differences in media format, genre and content (see, for example, Blumer 1933). Much research in this period, from around the 1930s up to the late 1950s, looked at the media’s potential to influence voters through political campaigns, at the effects of certain narratives on deviant behaviours (for example the moral panics constructed in the media around juvenile delinquency — see Cohen 1972) and at the media as sources of information. What became clear in many of the studies of this period were the number of variables which needed to be factored into analyses, including personal characteristics, but also the kinds of exposure to other sources of information. This phase ended with a strong sense of the media’s place in any number of influences, suggesting that the media did probably, have some impact but they were only one part of a pre-existing social, economic and political structure in which individuals function. By thinking of the media as part of a larger picture, it then becomes difficult to isolate the precise influence of the media away from other possible sources. (The 'no effect') model.)

3rd phase — powerful media revisited
As with any theory, no sooner is it written than someone wants to challenge it and so it was with the ‘no-effect’ model. By the 1960s, researchers were questioning the basis on which claims of no-effect had been made and began to seek out ways in which to demonstrate effect (see Lang and Lang 1981). But this time, the tools for analysis had moved on from a simple stimulus-response model which could measure immediate effect, which characterized the 1st phase, to ones which sought to identify longer-term effects, subtle shifts in understanding, diverse contexts and motivations for attending to media outputs. This phase also saw an interest in the more structural aspects of media production such as journalistic practice, media ownership and wider questions of political economy, as well as looking at less visible notions such as ideology. Crucially, the development of television in this era prompted a renewed interest in the power of media persuasion (Elliot 1972). A particular and popular theory which emerged during this time was Gerbner’s cultivation analysis theory which explored the relationships between audience exposure to TV (especially those of heavy ‘users’) and their beliefs and behaviours, specifically to identify the ‘acculturation’ effect of TV on viewers (Gerbner, 1967).

Importantly, Gerbner insisted that it was the cumulative effect of watching hours, days, weeks, months and years of TV which ‘cultivated’ the effect, not simply watching a few violent TV shows or hearing periodic outbursts of swearing.

4th phase — negotiating  media  meaning

This latest (but perhaps not last!) phase, which began in the late 1970s and early 1980s, has been characterized by an interest in the ways in which media messages are constructed and offered up to audiences for their consumption and how audiences either accept the (dominant) ways in which texts are encoded, or reject them or negotiate them (see Chapter 2 for an elaboration of the encoding/decoding model). In other words, audience research began to focus on an examination of what audiences did with media, rather than what media did to audiences, emphasizing agency rather than passivity.

Studies such as Morley’s (1980) work on the Nationwide programme and Hobson’s (1982) work on Crossroads made clear that there were many different ways in which audiences understood and interpreted media texts. Moreover, what also became clear was that audiences used media texts in a variety of ways — as ways in which to ‘practice’ other ways of being or as the basis for workplace discussions.

In other words, media consumption had a utility over and above the immediate consumption of a particular programme or news item. This phase also saw the further development of alternative methodological practices, moving away from quantitative approaches towards more nuanced understandings of audiences’ lived experiences, necessitating a more qualitative approach which would enable the personal meaning-making process and belief structures to be teased out (see Hall 1980; Morley 1980). These new methodologies included strategies such as observing how families watch TV and looking at who has control of the remote.

 McQuail argues that what this phase contributes to our understanding of effects is that there are two broad imperatives: that 'the media construct social formations and history itself by framing images of reality (in fiction as well as news) in a predictable and patterned way; and that people in audiences construct for themselves their own view of social reality and their place in it, in interaction with the symbolic constructions offered by the media’ (McQuail 1994: 331).

Thus the influence of the media will vary along the continuum of all-nothing, depending on where we, as individual consumers, are situated along that line in terms of our own relationship to the message, our experience, our background and our beliefs.

Whilst McQuail (1994) offers a useful way into understanding shifts in audience effect theory, his is by no means the only model available. Perse (2001), for example, argues that looking at the types rather than the extent of effect is a different way of thinking about the phenomenon, although she makes the point that such models can provide only partial explanations of the highly complex process of affect.

5th Phase   -  2005 Social Media changes mass media theory

For Perse (2001: 51), then, there are four alternate models of effect, which she describes as: direct, conditional, cumulative and cognitive/transactional:

Direct effects — these are generally short-term and testable and assume a passive audience unable to challenge ‘hidden’ media messages or an audience unconscious of the impact of media content on their behaviour (see later discussion on violence and affect).

Conditional effects — these are effects which are contingent on the predispositions, personal attributes and belief systems of individual audience members and allow the audience active agency to decide which aspects of a given media text they are willing to accept.

Cumulative effects — this model suggests that despite the potential for individual negotiation and decision to consume some but not other messages, the media is saturated with certain kinds of message where repetition of theme subverts conscious agency.

Cognitive-transactional effects — this model sees media effects as the consequence of individual cognitive responses towards media content and uses the concept of ‘priming’ to suggest that audiences are primed to watch, remember and thus potentially be influenced by, certain kinds of content rather than others. The transactional aspect of the model refers to the fact that both media content and audience characteristics are important in understanding media effect.

Whilst Perse presents an interesting analysis of media effect, the relationship of her typology to more familiar renditions of media effect is not substantially different except for her insistence on understanding effect through the combined lens of both content and audience profile, which is powerfully persuasive. Most studies tend to look either at content or at audience, so a model which combines both these elements can provide, in principle, a much more comprehensive analysis.
Yet other contemporary researchers are moving beyond (or perhaps alongside) the orthodoxy of identifying audience effect as constituting either passive incorporation or active resistance by constructing a new paradigm, that of spectacle/performance.

Some proponents of this new audiencethink, such as Abercrombie and Longhurst (1998), believe that ‘the audience’ should be set free from the confines of medium and genre. Instead, the ‘everydayness’ of being an audience member and thus witnessing a variety of performances (that is via consuming TV , newspapers, films, radio shows and so on) should be understood more intuitively and holistically in terms of our/their forms of identity with the entire mediascape which has become our ordinary, media-saturated world.
Methodologically, Abercrombie and Longhurst are arguing for a research paradigm which is essentially ethnographic and which takes a much more comprehensive approach to the notion of audience and effect than has been attempted hitherto. Of course, new theory about media influence (and the lack thereof) is developing all the time, but what remains clear is that many people, advertisers and politicians among them, do believe that the media have an influence so that the argument is less about if and more about how much.

And as Carey (1988) points out, mass media are an easy target to blame in times of significant social shifts or developments of new social phenomena, although the extent to which the media construct those social shifts or simply report on their progress continues to be a primary point of research contention. But at crucial times in history, the media are influential in informing publics about the progress of, say, a war or other armed conflict, but it is the extent to which the media construct and therefore influence what becomes ‘the agenda’ which is important (but difficult) to map. But we can say that most media scholars would cede some effect to mass media, but the point here is that the media have effects simply by their existence: suggesting they have power, on the other hand, suggests an effect which is altogether more deliberate than just ‘being there’

The problem of media violence
The way in which media such as newspapers and television deal with and treat issues of crime and violence has been an abiding preoccupation for media researchers, principally because of the potential for copycat behaviour by audiences, especially children (Schlesinger 1991; Paik and Comstock 1994; Wilson et al. 1997). Two of the earliest studies were carried out in the mid-1950s by Head (1954) and Smythe (1954), both of which argued that acts of violence were three times as frequent in programmes aimed at children than in mainstream programming. Other similar studies followed throughout the subsequent decades with repeated attempts to map patterns and trends in the volume, if not the actual impact, of TV violence. Whilst early researchers shied away from an overly prescriptive definition of what a violent act actually comprised for counting purposes, the scholar whose body of work on ‘counting’ violence effects which are contingent on the predispositions, personal attributes and belief systems of individual audience members and allow the audience active agency to decide which aspects of a given media text they are willing to accept.

But at crucial times in history, the media are influential in informing publics about the progress of a war or other armed conflict, but it is the extent to which the media construct and therefore influence what becomes ‘the agenda’ which is important (but difficult) to map. We can say that most media scholars would cede some effect to mass media, but the point here is that the media have effects simply by their existence: suggesting they have power, on the other hand, suggests an effect which is altogether more deliberate than just ‘being there’.

The expression of injurious or lethal force had to be credible and real in the symbolic terms of the drama. Humorous and even farcical violence can be credible and real, even if it has a presumable comic effect. (Gerbner 1972: 31) Gerbner’s work and that of other US colleagues throughout the 1980s and 1990s (for example, Gerbner et al. 1995; Cole 1996) suggests that the trend at the close of the twentieth century was a decreasing amount of violence, in simple volume terms, on terrestrial TV but an increase in volume across nonterrestrial programming. Whilst the precise reasons for this apparent pattern are not immediately apparent, US-produced programmes appear to be significantly ahead in their violence quotient when compared with the output of other industrialized countries (see Takeuchi et al. 1995). In a UCLA study of home video rental content, researchers found that in the monitoring period 1995– 97, more than 50 per cent of rentals had so much violence that concern would have been raised if any of them had been broadcast uncut on prime-time TV (UCLA Center for Communication Policy 1998).

•    Most domestic violence are men -> women
•    Stranger rape much less common than acquaintances
•    Murder is not the most common crime
•    Black people more likely to be victims
•    Older people more likely to be victims
•    Domestic violence accounted for 25% of all violent crime, and 33% of all murders in USA
•    These stats - not the portrayal of violence on TV and movies
•    http://youtu.be/DHRwo48twyE Book of Eli


The appalling events at Columbine, where 19 children and teachers were killed, was reported by most media as the tragic ‘consequences’ of two adolescent killers’ obsession with violent video games. The following headline makes clear who ‘society’ blames: ‘School massacre families to sue creators of violent games’ (The Independent, 7 June 1999: 3).

James Bulger case

Such a response mirrors that provoked by the killing of a 2-year-old child, James Bulger, by two adolescent boys who were also reported to have been fascinated with violent material. In that instance, the film Childs Play 3 was linked directly with the killing. The brutal death of James Bulger in 1998 prompted the Home Office to pursue yet more research into the impact of violent media, culminating in a study which, not surprisingly, did suggest such a link, although it had to stop short of making the link directly causal. The headline, though, is somewhat less scrupulous: ‘Film violence link to teenage crime: new twist to video nasty debate — ‘vulnerable’ young people may be influenced by screen killings’ (The Guardian, 8 January 1998). The salient words here are ‘vulnerable’ and ‘may’, both of which are contestable and controversial.

But we do need to understand that concern with viewers’ propensity to unthinkingly imitate media violence or be depraved or corrupted by it, is nothing new and efforts to prevent violent media content in books, magazines and newspapers have been ongoing since at least the late nineteenth century (Saunders 1996). Now, as then, one of the principal arguments against restricting and further regulating media content is that of freedom of speech (Gunter 2002), often linked with exhortations that consumers have the power to switch off or not read or listen to offensive material. In a recent, industry-funded project into effect, the researchers insist that it is misleading to point the finger of guilt at all broadcasters for portraying excessive violence since the worst excesses were mostly seen on pay-per-view channels or at times when children were unlikely to be watching (Gunter 2003). Whilst it is tempting to simply dismiss such research as mere industry propaganda, the differentiation between different parts of the industry does need to be acknowledged. In any case, the efficacy of strategies to limit vulnerable viewers’ access to violent material in response to concerns expressed by society and government are hard to assess. The criteria for classifying films, for example, are persistently challenged by the industry and on the grounds that members of the classification board are out of touch with reality and with public understandings of taste, decency and what is ‘acceptable’ material for different aged audiences. A study found that the effectiveness of V-chip technology is severely limited by the industry’s reluctance to label programmes in ways which accurately reflect their adult/violence/sexual content (Kunkel et al. 2002). Violence as (kidz)play


The continuing debate around copycat violence is often complicated by the contradictory nature of research findings in the areas, so that for every study showing a cause-effect relation, another suggests the opposite conclusions, thus producing an entirely inconclusive evidence base. This is not least because the different foci, context, sample-base, age cohort and exposure times in different studies has resulted in substantially different analyses and interpretation. It is therefore highly problematic to try and develop either comparative perspectives or to reach credible conclusions. Just as many researchers believe there is a relationship between violent-content video games and aggression (Irwin and Gross 1995; Ballard and Lineberger 1999) as believe the opposite (Cooper and Mackie 1986; Graybill et al. 1985; Scott 1995). Even reviewers of the literature cannot agree on the existence or not of causal effect (Dill and Dill 1998; Griffiths 1999), although some, like Freedman (2002) uncompromisingly assert that there is no scientific evidence to suggest effect. He argues that the fact that violent video games have proliferated at the same time as violent crime has decreased makes it improbable that one causes the other, since the effect appears to work in the ‘wrong’ direction.

The evidence re media violence

The problem with the incidence of media violence is that it is completely contradicted by the statistical evidence; even in the USA, crime rates are going down rather than up (Bureau of Justice Statistics 1998). The point is, why does the volume of violent material on television matter? Why are we interested in measuring it and mapping its contours? Well, obviously, it is because there is a belief that there is some kind of cause and effect relationship going on, between watching violence and ‘doing’ violence, between a viewer consuming violent TV programmes and then perpetrating violent acts against real people in real life. It is odd, then, that the early studies of TV violence were almost entirely oriented towards content, counting specific acts across the television landscape, identifying which genres or media were most culpable in their displays of televisual aggression and which genres were performing better or worse over time, rather than investigating viewer response and therefore affect. Public convictions that violent media content contributes to violence in society are supported by anecdotal reports of criminals’ media use, naïve beliefs in the connections between crime rates and media violence, media reports of ‘copycat’ crime and the publicized reports of some highly visible research. (Perse 2001: 199)

The cause and effect relation was often implicit in such studies but was rarely ‘tested’ for its strength with real audiences or even by mapping trends in the volume of TV violence against trends in the volume of real-life violence. Perhaps part of this reluctance to seriously engage with the potentiality of ‘real’ affect has been an acknowledgement that TV violence is not the same as the real thing which happens messily inside people’s lives (Fiske and Hartley 1978; Lichter et al. 1994). The violence and terror we see on television bear little or no relationship to their actual occurrence . . . television violence is an overkill of ‘happy violence’ — swift, cool, effective, without tragic consequences and in other ways divorced from real life and crime statistics. (Gerbner 1995: 71, 73) Most acts of domestic violence, for example, are perpetrated against women by men they know, and stranger rape is substantially less frequent than rape by a husband, partner or boyfriend. More than twenty years ago, it was estimated that between three and four million American women were battered by their partners (Stark et al. 1981) and global predictions more than a decade ago were that two-thirds of all married women would be battered at some time in their married lives (Stout 1991). In the UK, in 2001– 02, one in four women experienced domestic violence (British Crime Survey for England and Wales 2002). Domestic violence accounted for 25 per cent of all violent crime and one third of all murders in 2002 (Tweedale 2003): also in that year there were 635,000 reported incidents of domestic violence in England and Wales and women were the victims in 81 per cent of cases (Gorna 2003).

Other crime facts which run counter to common-sense myths are that murder is not the most common crime, that black people are much more likely to be victims than perpetrators and that older people are much less likely to be assaulted on the street than young people. This is the actuality of crime trends, but television shows us exactly the reverse of these facts because TVland is about excitement and drama with neatly closed ends: only rarely are we offered glimpses of the real impact of violence on people’s real lives and relationships. To unpack this a little and focus on the media’s portrayal of crimes against women, Myers (1997) argues that one of the ways in which the media simplify what are very complex issues is in their persistent use of two contradictory frames: Madonna and whore. In this schema, women are either innocent victims of male lust and violence or guilty of incitement by their own behaviour and conduct. The repetitive use of these two central motifs or what Myers (1997: 9) describes as the ‘male supremacist ideology’ produces a powerful social lesson. Women are warned through these reporting mechanisms about the limits of ‘acceptable’ female behaviour and the likely outcome (rape/ murder) of their behavioural transgression. This setting up of a binary opposition of good girl/bad girl finds resonance with feminist notions of patriarchy and the supposed ‘place’ of women in society (Soothill and Walby 1991; Benedict 1992; Meyers 1994).

The utility of thinking about violent media as a set of characteristics as suggested by Donnerstein et al. is neatly encapsulated in the findings from National Television Violence Studies (see Wilson et al. 1997, 1998) which suggested that viewers perceiving justification for an act of aggression had an impact on subsequent violent behaviour. Thus watching ‘justified’ violence appeared to give ‘permission’ to viewers to be aggressive themselves, whereas watching unjustified acts may have the opposite effect. In work with children and violent TV, Krcmar and Cooke (2001) argue that age (and therefore the range of experiences on which viewers have to draw) has a significant impact on ideas about the rightness or wrongness of violent behaviour. Young children are more likely to see unpunished aggressive acts as being ‘better’ than punished acts, whereas older children are more likely to see provoked acts of violence as more acceptable than unprovoked ones. In an experimental study with 10– 12-year-old children in the USA, images which showed an armed criminal being killed (that is, attracting negative consequences for violent action) were a stronger inhibitor to imitative behaviour than scenes where the armed perpetrator ‘got away with it’ (Bernhardt et al. 2001).

Successive opinion polls have shown that a majority of Americans believe that the influence of television on the incidence of crime is either important or critical (US Department of Justice 1994: 222; cited in Fowles 1999: 13). Such third-person effects (Davison 1983; McLeod et al. 2001), that is believing that something affects other people, but not oneself, are particularly strong is this contested area of effect, and Hoffner et al. (2001) show that audiences believe they are much less influenced by violent images than other people. Similarly, Duck and Mullin (1995) found that viewers rejected being influenced by negative content (oriented towards violence, sexism and racism) whilst accepting their own openness to ‘good’ content, for example, public service announcements.

Video games have been especially targeted as the focus of much audience-based research relating to children and affect, largely because of their popularity, the sociable context of interaction (that is, often with other children) and the fact that they can be experienced with a VCR and are therefore more accessible than games requiring computer facilities. The violent content of video games has prompted concern about affect for more than ten years and as recently as 2000, the mayor of Indianapolis spearheaded a campaign to ban children under 18 years old from playing violent video games unless accompanied by an adult (cited in Sherry 2001: 410).

Whilst links are often made between watching violence on TV and playing violent video games, that is, that the impact on the audience is more or less the same, there are very specific differences between the two modes which require more sensitive as the trigger for a similar kind of assault carried out by a group of girls just days after the film was broadcast on TV . However, the legal case which was brought by the mother of the victim against NBC (the broadcaster who aired the film) was dropped after it was revealed that the ringleader had not watched the film.

Another example Fowles cites is from 1993, when a five-year-old boy set fire to his family’s trailer home in Ohio, killing his two-year-old sister. His mother blamed the Beavis and Butt-head show for inciting the child to set fires, but reporters investigating the tragedy found not only that the boy’s trailer home was not hooked up to cable — and that he could not therefore have been a regular viewer — but that the trailer park itself was not wired for cable. The point that Fowles is trying to make is that the adult public is keen to condemn TV for its routinized portrayal of violence, and programmes get scapegoated for their provocative material when in fact, ‘the total number of antisocial acts directly attributable to television entertainment antics must be minuscule’ (Fowles 1999: 3).

He also points to the abiding contradiction which is the cause-effect conundrum relating to TV violence: whilst individuals believe that there is too much violence on TV and that exposure does have an impact on violence in society, so they simultaneously get their daily fix of TV mayhem as if they are not also part of the problem. For Fowles, this contradictory behaviour can best be understood by way of an individual’s need to ‘act out’ aggressively (in an aggressive world), but within the safe confines of the TV set, a desire which is encouraged by the wider community:

Media accuracy and bias
•    Journalists often reproduce bias surrounding various issues, forgetting to check sources
•    Attitudes to beauty, obesity, alcohol, drugs, education, politics, boat people… are created and maintained by media
•    Agenda-setting role leads to mass audience paranoia in some cases – HRT reports
•    Media is subject to PR messages from big business
The effect/affect conundrum
What we hope we have shown is the endurance and tenacity with which proponents and detractors of ‘effect’ continue to argue about the cause-effect relation within mass media research. However, despite the clear lack of demonstrable and verifiable evidence that a cause and effect relationship does exist between the sender and the receiver, supporters of the ‘negative effect’ thesis will often make very firm statements about causality. In several US studies, all make clear that the (high) volume of violent material on TV across all genres and channels, has dangerous consequences for society in terms of imitative behaviours, especially amongst children, and an increasing sense of social menace and fear (see Smith and Boyson 2002; Smith et al. 2002; Wilson et al. 2002).

But all these studies focus exclusively on programme content, not on audience perceptions, so their strong statements on the cause-effect relation can only actually be speculative and derived from their own private beliefs and concerns. Despite this limitation, though, these researchers are still able to claim that, ‘In spite of the lively debates [about the impact of TV] that still occur . . . social science research that has accumulated over 40 years reveals quite clearly that television violence can contribute to aggressive behaviour in viewers’ (Smith et al. 2002: 84). The use of the word ‘can’ here both renders the statement completely empty but is also small enough for the reader to miss if she is already predisposed towards believing a positive association.

But no such incontrovertible evidence actually exists, and Vine (1997: 126), amongst others, wants to question the casual ease with which many media researchers confidently assert its existence. He argues persuasively that what is at issue is not if media messages have an effect — they clearly do, however involuntarily — but rather ‘which kinds of effect occur [and] how they are brought about — and whether the outcomes are to be properly judged as harmful’. Crucially, he cautions against seeing one element — violent TV content — as the primary (external) causal factor in antisocial or dangerous behaviour when a variety of both exogenous and endogenous effects will also be in play at any one time.

Not only are effects circumscribed by personal characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity and class — with gender attributes particularly salient — but issues of genre are also important. For example, several studies suggest that broadcasting ‘real’ violence in the form of news reports of war is far more damaging to psychological health than watching cartoon renditions of aggression (see Cantor 1994). In Firmstone’s (2002: 49) review of the literature on viewer attitudes towards violent media content in factual TV , she found a number of characteristics which influence perception:

a) closeness — viewers were more disturbed by violence where they could identify with the victim;
b) certainty — viewers were less likely to be shocked if they knew how the situation would end and understood the context;
c) justice — viewers tolerated high levels of violence if they thought the victim ‘deserved it’;
d) sufficiency — viewers were disturbed by programmes using excessive violence to make a point.

One outcome of increasing levels of crime and violence on television is an amplification of a climate of fear amongst the public which does not reflect any kind of statistical or even experiential reality.

Successive studies in the UK, for example, show that the public’s fear of crime and of being victims of criminal activity is unrelated to the actual incidence of crime (see annual studies such as the British Crime Survey). But of course, there is the usual chicken and egg situation in play here: are ‘real-crime’ shows proliferating because of public demand, or are audiences watching these shows because they are on? Either way, there is a morbid fascination about watching such shows, akin to rubber-necking at accident sites.
The media cannot really be thought of as an undifferentiated mass, since TV must be considered separately from the press, radio from the Internet, not just because their messages could be (and often are) different, but because their purposes are as different as their modes of address and reception. Even within the single category of television or print, there are any number of nuanced differences in terms of differential ‘affect’, between fiction and documentary, between tabloid and broadsheet, between afternoon and midnight, between adults and children.

Ironically, it could be that our fear of crime manifests itself in a greater rather than lesser desire to consume crime-related material, especially ‘reality-based’ and reconstruction-focused series such as Crimewatch UK or America’s Most Wanted (see Gunter 1987). This is because of the paradox inherent in watching such shows, which can simultaneously exacerbate and reduce fears for personal safety, as Schlesinger et al. (1992) have demonstrated persuasively in their work. In their study with women viewers, they found that Crimewatch reduced some women’s fear but increased that of others.

What about Advertising?
•    If the media did not cause consumers to go out and buy stuff, why is billions of dollars spent on advertising?
•    Is behaving in a violent manner so different to buying clothes or food?
•    Why do governments spend millions on health campaigns through the media?

Successful PR Campaigns
Edward Bernays, “torches of freedom” 1929
Barack Obama’s 2008 election

Media effects on sexuality
•    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1070813/
•    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive//ldn/2005/jul/05070604
•    Issue largely ignored by researchers:  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/116/Supplement_1/303.full

How do we resist the media?
•    Realise that the media are not there to help us
•    Understand that status, profit, and power are the bases of all democratic societies
•    What we see is not always reality, but a reflection of what already exists in other media copy
•    Try to not mimic American culture in all its forms
•    Try to educate ourselves by seeing through the hype, the sensationalism, the falsehoods posing as facts
•    Try to adopt an individual view on difficult issues, not just parrot the media position