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Media’s Role In The Public Perception Of New Religious Movements

824 words - 4 pages

Introduction

The mass media plays a major role in the way communities perceive the environment and events around them. The power of the media is paramount. More so than chief political leaders, major religious leaders or organisations. It is a bold statement to make, but one that is hard to argue against, especially in a day and age where everything is instant. This essay critically examines the role the media plays in the public’s perception of New Religious Movements. It shall examine how the media portrays New Religious Movements, the techniques used in this portrayal, examples of events that the media have covered and the accuracies and inaccuracies of the reporting.
The Mass Media ...view middle of the document...

This is apparent in all spheres of life, from political news, to coverage of the local football team. Therefore we must understand that we should not expect an unbais, holistic and informative portrayal of New Religious Movements from the mass media.

Mass media has to large extent become story tellers rather than news breakers. The media chooses what news shall be shown, what shall be left out, what it will focus on, how it will be portrayed and what the focal point of the story will be. We consume news at such a rate that we often fail to stop and critically examine what we are being told. Thus we are left with only one perception of a given event, that which the media portrays to us.
This begs the question of what makes an event newsworthy and why are New Religios Movements often portrayed in a negative light? Cowen and Hadden (2004: 64-82) arranged a value-added model of newsworthiness. Utop the list was, “Event Negativity”. Therefore a New Religious Movement only becomes newsworthy once something negative, often something violent or tragic. The second aspect of newsworthiness is, “Resonance of the event with the target news consumers” (Cowen and Hadden 2004: 64-82). This again means that New Religious Movements will only become newsworthy once they affect our own lives. Only once people begin to see them as a threat to their society or community will media be able to...

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