Media narratives and politics

Altheide – the mass media operates as a social institution.

– What is the mass media?

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• Refers to the information technologies and actors that communicate and broadcast news, ideas, and entertainment to large audiences.

• Paradigm shift since the advent of smartphones and social media. Mass media is now instantaneous, visual, and personalized

Altheide – the mass media operates as a social institution because it is a “critical carrier and definer of popular culture” (Althiede 2017)

• Mass media formats wield enormous social power (i.e. the capacity to define a situation for oneself or others).

• Operates according to certain media logics that go on to influence other social fields according to those same logics.

Mass media and narratives

– Goebbels’ “The Big Lie”:

• People can come to believe anything if it is reduced to black and white terms and repeated often enough.

– Historical or contemporary examples of successful “Big Lies”?

• WMDs in Iraq; Obama is wasn’t born in the US; Vaccinations cause autism; 9/11 was an “Inside Job”; Gluten is evil etc.

Altheide’s “Media Logic(s)”

• The process through which mass media outlets present and transmit information in familiar ways.

• Includes how material is organized, the presentation style, the focus or emphasis on certain things.

• Often sensationalistic: emphasis on provoking emotional response over substance – Satire of this phenomenon by The Onion

http://www.theonion.com/video /breaking-news-some-bullshithappening-somewhere-16928

Problems with media logic, idealnorms, and entertainment formats?

– “Complex and often ambiguous events and concerns are symbolically mined for ‘moral truths’… presumed to be held by the audience, while the repeated presentation of similar scenarios ‘teaches’ the audience about the nature and causes of ‘disorder.’” (Atheide)

– Mass media tend to reinforce for audiences, what they already think they know

• Mass media and communication is an interactive process between media communication and media audiences.

• Brings us to “Securitization Theory” which helps us understand how something comes to be seen as a security issue.

Process of Securitization

  1. Issue
  2. Speech act by authority
  3. Accepted by receiving audiences
  4. Now a security issue
  5. Felicity conditions must present

• Securitization occurs through meaning-making

• Relies on discourses and narratives

• Significance?

– Securitization takes things out of the realm of ‘normal politics’ and puts things into the realm of ‘exceptional politics’

 – Exceptional politics imply exceptional measures. Like what?

 – Back to Schmitt: The Sovereign decides the exception and decides who is friend/foe

• Security politics- part of the creation and maintenance of state identity

• The state actually relies on security politics/fear narratives (Hobbes, Schmitt, Foucault again)

• (Perceived) threats to the state, counterintuitively strengthen state identity.

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