Tuesday, April 17, 2007

24 hour news coverage

Posted by Teresa at 1:55 PM

Last year I did my Master's thesis on the topic of stress
and cable news' continuous coverage during
times of national crisis. Yesterday was such a tragic day.
I thought I would share the intro to my academic paper.
If you would like to see my resources on this topic please
contact me. Here it is
Continue reading here

During the past five years the American public has experienced
traumatic events, such as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Hurricane Katrina. It is during times
of crisis when news media services are most needed and used.
Television news, and particularly cable news, brings the viewing
public front and center to unfolding events.

People have different reactions when a crisis occurs before their eyes.
Turning away from the television screen during a disaster is difficult for some.
For example, on September 11, 2001, Americans watched an average of 8.1 hours
of news coverage of the attacks (Schuster et al, 2001, p. 1509). Images of the two
airplanes crashing into World Trade Center buildings were replayed on television
throughout the day of the attack and the days following. During Hurricane Katrina,
video segments of dead bodies floating in the flood waters were repeatedly shown
on cable and broadcast television.

As these events appeared across television screens, the audience
became virtual eyewitnesses. Whether it was live from Baghdad or
New Orleans, the images broadcast through the airwaves left a lasting impact.
Through the medium of television the general audience encounters the sights
and sounds of the news event. According to Newhagen (1998), a television
news program has the capacity to deliver more images of violence, suffering,
and death in a half hour than most people would normally experience in
a lifetime (p. 266). Television news has a powerful emotional impact because
of its visual and audio components. Television is an intimate medium because
it brings events into the living rooms to millions of American viewers on a
daily basis. The visual medium provides a dramatic concretization of images
and scenes that draw the viewer into the events. Such scenes can evoke an
emotional response to those removed in time and space from direct personal
threat (Slone, 2000, p. 516). This thesis seeks to understand the relationship
between this powerful medium and stress during crucial and eventful times.

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