Communicating Unreality: Modern Media and the Reconstruction by Gabriel Weimann

By Gabriel Weimann

Reviewing the photographs and meanings of the mass-mediated international, Gabriel Weimann examines the symbolic atmosphere, the place truth and fiction are nearly inseparable. via dialogue of mass-mediated photos of individuals, cultures, conflict, love, intercourse, dying, neighborhood, and identification, he demonstrates that there's frequently a wide hole among fact and the reconstruction of "realities" as communicated via the mass media.

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T h e r e is increasing evidence that the media serve as i m p o r t a n t sources o f i n f o r m a t i o n for a wide range o f topics and populations. Television, for e x a m p l e , is often cited as the main source o f information for m o s t p e o p l e . Parents and educators p o i n t t o the (often negative) role o f the m e d i a in the 15 THE R E C O N S T R U C T I O N O F REALITY 16 socialization o f children and adolescents. It is n o t just the general public that is c o n c e r n e d with media effects; a significant p o r t i o n o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n scholarship is devoted to e x a m i n a t i o n s o f media i m p a c t .

W h e n response patterns are a c t e d o u t on television, or in the movies, for e x a m p l e , they are said t o be " m o d e l e d " by the actors portraying the behavior. In o t h e r w o r d s , the m o r e general idea o f social learning theory b e c o m e s modeling theory w h e n applied t o acquisition o f n e w b e h a v i o r forms from e x p o s u r e t o portrayals o f action in mass c o m m u n i c a t i o n c o n t e n t . Although, presum- The Debate Over Media Effects 29 ably, b e h a v i o r can be m o d e l e d in print, the t h e o r y seems far m o r e relevant t o a c c o u n t i n g for influences on individuals from film and television.

T h e i m p o r t a n t n o t i o n o f defense mechanisms that help us t o p r o t e c t o u r existing attitudes, beliefs, and values and t o maintain o u r cognitive c o n s o n a n c e , thus minimizing the potential influence o f e x t e r n a l sources like mass m e d i a , may be accurate but only for existing attitudes and p e r c e p t i o n s . But w h a t about those m a n y instances o f events, " n e w s , " o r processes that are totally n e w t o us, w h e n we depend on the m e d i a for i n f o r m a t i o n as well as for interpretation?

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