Protecting Ourselves from Media Manipulation: The Use of Alternative Media as an Information Source
As far as one can recall the media has had a large influence over our perceptions of the world and the society in which we live. Why is it that we blindly seem to believe whatever we hear on the radio, see on the television, read in newspapers and more currently on the internet? The mass media has acquired a great control over the perceptions of how we interpret the world around us, it is only when we allow alternative media to develop and expand to greater parts of the world that we will be able to understand the different perspectives and work towards understanding the truth.
There have been past reports on alien invasions, attacks made by giant worms and other exaggerated or made-up stories. Many of these events or attacks were based on popular fears during the time. This can also be seen during the “Red Scare”. Americans were afraid of being attacked by communists and were constantly afraid of spies thus, they proceeded to name anyone or anything a communist if they did not respond in the way that they had anticipated. These fears were manipulated by the mass media creating further anxiety.
Plausibility and timing are equally as important in creating stories or news that can result in anxiety and fear. To fully deceive the public there has to be a plausible story occurring at the right time and place.
In our post 9/11 world, where many people are already feeling on the edge it is important that the media is careful in what they produce, and think about the potential effects on their audience. We would not want to see ourselves confronted with the same tactics as those used previously during the “Red Scare”. If similar broadcasts were to occur today, they might trigger widespread fear that a biological or chemical terrorism attack was actually underway, even though no actual proof might be visible.
With this said it is important to take note of the constant bombarding of images of soldiers in the battlefield and the constant threats of future terrorist attacks provided by the news media. As George Orwell explains, “…if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should know better,” this helps explain how the media can use language to influence the perceptions of it’s audience even when the audience normally knows better than to be seduced by that same language.
It is generally agreed that the relationship between terrorism and the media is ‘symbiotic’, in that defiant terrorist organizations use the media as a means of expression for their political message to be heard by the targeted audience, whilst supplying ‘exciting news’ for the media (Nacos). The media is further seduced into adopting the language that is provided by the terrorist organization. An example of this occurred was when former-Italian...