The Story of Graffiti

It is not a rare occasion, when going along the street you clash with some puzzled and giant inscription. Vivid colors and intricacy lead you to stare, guessing and having a hunch what is written on the wall or building. That is the first impression people get about graffiti, embellishing their buildings. Indeed, graffiti style has emerged not long ago, but simultaneous simplicity and involute plot leave us nothing but astonishment and excitement. It is an issue of street-art culture, which signifies that modern art is not a prerogative of rich and intelligent people, but talented ones.

Graffiti is recognized as street art style that embraced outdoors of New York in 1920s. However, there are some ideas that it was only an outburst of this art, which has accomplished a long history of its development since ancient times.  As strange as it may seem, petroglyphic drawings in Egypt and Greece are likely to be the first steps towards graffiti, which were executed on statues, temples and even pyramids. They carried either religious or warning meaning. Medieval graffiti is associated with pre-Columbian America and the culture of Maya people and, in addition, Vikings in Northern Europe, who were engaged in runic writings. In Early Modern Period graffiti was left by soldiers in various parts of the world, who were eager to leave some written mark about their conquest or stay in the mission station.

All in all, at the beginning of the 20th century people faced graffiti style, which slightly differs from the modern version. Moreover, the culture of this street art style was enriched with new methods, terms, authors and, of course, ideas. A critic is also included, which features the question: are graffiti images an art or an act of vandalism? There is no doubt that most of the authors (so-called writers) strived for expressing own social and political perception, but it did not obstructed to make images (tags) alerting and well-performed. Mainly, they were observed on the streets of American cities, where young people “imprinted” their dissatisfaction with the President or certain politicians.

Many tags were created in order to point out musical preferences. For example, the most prominent tag of the 20th century is “Clapton is God”, which appeared in Islington station (London subway) in 1967. In this way fans of rock-musician supported the release of his new album “Bluesbreakers” and the rock-n-roll culture.  The decades of 1970s and 1980s are a period of protesting punk rock movement. Especially, it covered streets of Manhattan, where the most visible tag was an upside-down martini glass – a symbol of Missing Foundation (punk group of 1984-1992). By the way, Manhattan is also a native place of the first recognized graffiti writer – TAKI 183; his tags were all over NYC, pointing his name (Taki is simplified from Demetrius) and address (183rd street).

To date, lots of countries have admirable and talented writers, which decorate both their native streets and make great tags in different parts of the world. Some cases might be underlined. Miss Van started with painting incredible dolls on Toulouse streets and nowadays moved to Spain, sharing her art with fashion industry (Fornarina collection, particularly). Banksy is the most well-paid and the most mysterious painter of modernity. He hides real identity behind the pseudonym of Bansky and paintings criticizing politics. He alerts an attention with his nihilism and anti-capitalism views, which only encourage people to attend his gallery exhibitions all over the world.

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Tell Me what you think

This is an experiment…

1. Review the theoretical underpinnings of persuasive messages in relation to specific audiences, taking into account at least three of the following constructs: agenda setting, diffusion of innovation, central and peripheral processing, cognitive dissonance, source credibility, reasoned action, two-step flow, selectivity, expectancy-value and fear appeals.  As a writer/producer, which basic model would you use in developing political advertising for your candidate targeted at the general public.  Justify your selection.

 

2. The media landscape has certainly changed in the last few years. A dramatic example of this is the way non-fiction films are distributed.  Ten years ago there were only a few places where independent producers might sell their documentaries. Today there are many more outlets.  What are these new opportunities? Describe at least three case studies of non-fiction films that have profited from these new avenues of distribution.

 

3. Programming is what attracts audiences to television but advertising is the primary means of revenue generation for most networks and stations.  In a situation when 1) specific broadcast programming is attacked for containing too much “skin and sin” by traditional family values groups, 2) advertisers are inundated with thousands of email, letters and telephone calls to stop buying commercial time by concerned family group followers and 3) some advertisers withdraw, is this a triumph for the television audience, a chilling effect on broadcast TV creativity, or a step towards censorship and bland programming?   Assume each of these perspectives and cite evidence from previous program histories to explicate how these electronic media issues evolved, were resolved and continue to coexist.

 

4. In November 2007, the Writers Guild of America went on strike after its members and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to negotiate a deal.  What are (were) the issues at stake in this conflict?  Trace the history of this conflict between these two groups and the consequent effects on television viewing audiences and new programming development.  How will this strike inform the future of new media and old media, and how will it affect you as someone who will be working in the industry as a) a writer, and b) a studio or network executive?

 

5.  In the coming years Cable TV will face very real competition from the telephone companies for customers. Give the competitive advantages of each industry and the efforts both have made in Congress and at the FCC to deal with perceived inequities in the competitive landscape.

 

6. The utilization of new and different media platforms — web streaming, mobiphones and the like — to deliver television programming has given rise to “anytime, anywhere, media measurement.” This system purports to track in-home and out-of-home viewing, Internet and phone TV usage, as well as traditional television viewing.  In addition, commercial ratings or audience viewership levels during the commercial breaks are now available to advertisers.

A)    What improvements does this system of audience measurement represent over the traditional ratings system?  

B)    How would producers, programmers and advertisers benefit from the new audience measurements?

C)    What are some of the concerns critics have raised and how can these be addressed?

 

7.  “American TV is dangerous to our children’s health.”   Scientific studies have shown that children who spend the most time with television are also those who are more likely to be overweight.  Children who watch television violence are more likely to behave in harmful ways towards others and become less empathetic.  You are testifying on behalf of television writers and producers before a congressional subcommittee intent on refining policy to protect the health of our nation’s children.  How would you address these findings in the face of existing legislation and offer solutions to parents, assurances to policy makers as well as a sound bite for the next news cycle?

 


8.  Screenwriter William Goldman, a two-time Academy Award winner, has long preached that “screenplays are structure.” What is he talking about? 

A) If he’s referring to a particular story-telling model, describe that in detail.

B) If there are multiple models, what are the most influential ones and how do they differ?

C) And how has story structure evolved through the centuries?

Use examples from the 2008 Oscar nominees to illustrate your points.

 

9.  Think about this: Today you can watch movies on your video iPod.  You can also watch TV on your cell phone.  Through global marketing you can catch the release of the latest big studio film in Shanghai, China the same day as in Syracuse, New York (probably a few days earlier).  The social media network, Facebook on which you used to post pictures for your friends is now valued at $15 billion. 

 

During your year at Newhouse, the media environment will continue to change dramatically. These changes may come from some new technology or an economic or policy shift. For example, if you’re reading the papers and the trades, you know that ABC News and Facebook have teamed up to develop a new tool to facilitate political debate coverage and interactivity on the social networking site;  the major TV networks continue to offer streaming video of their programs, and advertisers are using “skins,” “overlays” or “bugs” to promote their products and services online.

 

If you’re bright, flexible and entrepreneurial, you’ll find ways to make your career in any number of these future transformations. Even better, you should be smart enough to anticipate and take advantage of such changes before they (or you) are history. This is your chance to begin the birth of a future transformation that will bear your name.

 

Write a proposal for your new concept. What is it? What makes it unique? How does it take advantage of existing or new technologies, economies and/or policies? Specify what research you will do to determine if there is an audience and market. What legal and regulatory issues will you have to be aware of? Who are the people or institutions you need to convince this is the greatest thing since the iPod? Who are the people or institutions you don’t want to know about your idea until it’s a reality and why? Describe how this concept will ripple through the media environment or how it might have an impact on only a specialized niche.

 

An important part of your answer will be a personal inventory assessment: what talents, skills, knowledge, etc. that you possess make it possible for you to actuate this concept? Be realistic; if you’re not Steve Wozniak, recognize that and plan to hire him as a consultant. But if your idea is “television for housebound cats”, be-up front about your special understanding of the feline spirit.

 

10. In the book “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman, referring to a program called “Higglytown Heroes” being produced for the Disney Channel by Wild Brain, an animation studio in San Francisco, Wild Brain CEO Scott Hyten remarked about how the all-American show was being produced by an all-world supply chain —  The recording session is located near the artist, usually in New York or L.A., the design and direction is done in San Francisco, the writers network in from their homes (Florida, London, New York, Chicago, L.A., and San Francisco), and the animation of the characters is done in Bangalore 

(India).  These interactive recording/writing/animation sessions allow us to record an artist for an entire show in less than half a day, including unlimited takes and rewrites.

            Given the increasing trend in production toward on-line collaboration using work flow software, discuss the impact of such a trend on established television production methods and financing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The answers will come after a time.

-Alex

“Do the right thing” & Criminal theory

          “I want my money Sal”                  

To examine the causes of crime using the film “Do The Right Thing”, it is important to first identify the crimes in question.  The four crimes in the film are Sal’s destruction of Radio Raheem’s radio, the following assault by Raheem, his death at the hands of the police, and the destruction of Sal’s by the community.  These crimes can be explained structurally by using Merton’s anomie theory by contrasting the goals of the four entities that commit the crimes.  The backbone of Robert Merton’s Anomie theory is that our society has one culturally approved goal of economic success, which cannot be achieved by most people.  Americans are led to believe that the American dream is out there for everyone and indeed we are granted the rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The problem with this happiness is that it is equated with money, which sets the tone for the film with Mookie counting his money.

 No one in the United States is telling our children that there is no chance at all they will grow up to be president. Unfortunately, the facts are such that if you are born in poverty you will most likely die in poverty and the same goes for people born rich.  This creates a part of society who has the same “American dream” as everyone but cannot achieve this dream through any legitimate means.  The American cultural norms are so different from the reality of street life in east Brooklyn that the effect is the humiliation of this community.  The structure of society will never let them succeed and this is known and understood by the residents. For example, the perceived reason for the lack of black owned businesses in the neighborhood is because “We black”.  This large-scale structural deprivation of dignity leads to violence as the limits of respect are pushed.

          Sal, Radio Raheem, and the police are all in different modes of adaptation, showing that everyone in this community feels the pressures of the conflicting American ideologies.  Sal is the conformist because he is using legitimate goals and means to make the money that he thinks will make him happy.  Nonetheless, he still recognizes the restrictions placed on the rest of the neighborhood and shows charity throughout the film.  While there is no hard evidence that Radio Raheem is a criminal, his alpha-male status in the neighborhood and the fact that he does not seem to have a job leads me to this conclusion.  He is the innovator who uses different means to achieve his status goal: the loudest radio on the block.  The patrolmen are Ritualists, meaning they have rejected the goals of police in society; “To protect and serve” but have retained the legitimate means at their disposal to achieve their goals, namly violence.  These different ways of living transform into a mutual lack of respect on all sides though the police and Sal at least have a working relationship. These strong tensions between significant parts of the community explode into violence and the neighborhood responds in kind due to identification with Raheem as a fellow marginalized individual.

          Katz’s Social psychological theory can be also be used to explain the criminal actions of Sal, Radio Raheem and the local police mainly by showing that these three characters were responding to a disrespect shown to them.   The discussion of “righteous slaughter” is relevant to the crimes in this film because they all involve interior rationalizations for the crime.

          Katz discusses the interior rationalizations of murder and assault in some detail. Shame and humiliation are deeply felt by most people and in situations where this mental pain is felt it can transform into rage.  Someone imposing their will on another person, relieving them of their dignity, and having the victim of the shame commit the crime, exemplifies this explanation. The sense of worthlessness and humiliation would fit with Katz and this data except in this case there is a long period of building shame before it overflows.  When this shame does transform into rage, it requires a transcendence on the part of the perpetrator.  The transcendence is a transformation of one’s mental state in order to rationalize the crime.

          There are many examples of how important respect is in this neighborhood and this sets the stage for the involvement of the whole block in the destruction of Sal’s.  Radio Raheem is the top dog on the block and he walks around all day to maintain this status.  He does this by looking mean and making sure that his radio is completely overwhelming.  Sal maintains his respect by having a successful business and not tolerating any dissent in his store.  The police are feared and hated by the community, which is tantamount to the greatest level of respect from a civilian.  The community, on the other hand, has to deal with the constant disrespect shown to them by the police and the contradictory societal structure.  It is for this reason that the community so quickly projects this shame-induced rage onto Sal’s pizzeria.  Sal is the first one to have his dignity and respect challenged and so projects his shame onto someone for whom respect is his only currency.  Radio Raheem, for the first time, has to turn his radio down in order to buy pizza and this later leads to an attempt to regain his status by entering the store with no intention of lowering the volume.  This places Sal and Raheem in a situation where their respect is openly challenged.  As each player in the unfolding drama projects their shame onto someone else by means of violence, a chain reaction of transcendence is created. Raheem attacks Sal with noise, Sal attacks Raheem through his radio, Raheem responds with violence and the police respond in kind to maintain their power in the neighborhood.  The neighborhood responds to the shame of having a resident killed by the hated police by projecting their rage onto the only entity they can connect with authority.

          Anomie theory does a fine job of explaining the positions of the people in the neighborhood, as well as the reasons for tensions between the conformists, innovators and ritualists.  The different modes of adaptation show how the characters have decided to deal with the realities of the American dream.  The disadvantages of this theory have to do with a lack of explanations concerning class struggle solutions and why they have failed in east Brooklyn.  The idea of financial success as the ultimate goal is accepted but exactly why the people cannot rise above the street is not specifically shown.  Crimes of passion are not accounted for and there is a tacit assumption that crimes are done for money or lack thereof.

          The other main problem with this theory is that a real solution to this problem of weakened norms cannot be effective without the destruction of a cultural ideology, not an easy task.  The other solution would something like increasing the welfare state or education, neither of which is economically feasible. Anomie explains the class deficit in America but is not effective in explaining individual motivations.

          Katz’s theory concerning projections of shame and crimes of passion is effective for explaining some of the individual motivations behind the crimes but does not fully explain why the community would destroy a pizzeria they had grown up with and liked.  There is little discussion of the mob mentality.  The lashing out against any non-black businesses because of the police actions is not accounted for.  For example, why would they spare the Korean Grocery, which the community had actively disliked as supposed to Sal’s, which was respected?  The theory can explain the murder of Raheem because his actions could be conceived internally as an insult to white businesses in black neighborhoods but then why didn’t the black cop intercede?  The theory also omits a discussion of repressed memories as a cause of violent crime.  Attacks on one’s dignity and respect are often forgotten but build up inside a person and explode only when their personal capacity for disrespect has been reached.

          The theories of Katz and Merton are the most effective in explaining this crime both because they compliment each others strengths and weaknesses as well as the fact that anomie explains the explosive environment and Katz can explain the reason for the specific explosion.

         

On Sensory Perception

On Sensory Perception——————————– There is an expression Everyone sees the world in a different light. but for the most part we see the world in the same way as everyone else. When we see a fire truck go by we can reasonably assume that the person standing next to us is looking at a red fire truck. This idea of a common perception is reasonable because according to geneticists, we share 99.9% of our DNA with every other human on this planet and we share about 98% with every other living organism that has ever existed. This raises a problem because mathematically 99.9 is equivalent to 100. So why do people look and act so differently? A more significant question would be how it is if we share so much in common, why are there no two identical people? Mothers in this country often tell their children that they are as beautiful and unique as a snowflake. This is an apt analogy because while we are as unique as snowflakes, we are all still made of snow from the same cloud.——————————————————————- It is reasonable to assume that humans have a common perception of the world because of our shared genetic material and evolution. This is not perception in a general sense, but only the process by which we convert physical stimuli into something we recognize and understand. Our sensory perception is, to put it simply, the seemingly objective projection of our five basic senses as the human brain processes them.———————————– Driving down a crowded Newbury street, a friend remarked excitedly on a bright pink Volvo he saw out the window. Naturally we all turned to look at the car.————————————————————————————————— Ben, that car is blue.———————————————————– Oh, well I suppose its not that interesting then, he replied, turning his gaze back to the street.—————————————————————- This short episode raised all kinds of questions in my mind about color blindness and following from that, questions about the general reliability of my senses. I tried to imagine what the world would look like if I had Bens eyes and the closest thing I could come up with was along the lines of a color negative. This idea of the world with all the colors reversed was not accurate because of course pink is not the opposite of blue. This only made the issue more complicated because how can you say that what I perceive is right or in synch with objective reality? Unfortunately the term objective reality is indefinable to me. How can you prove that what I see is an accurate portrayal of the world?—————————————————————————– But surely with all the technology and knowledge of the natural world, one would think we have found some objective truths. The problem is that any technology that exists to measure the world is created and calibrated by us. Scientific measurement can record change but not the full nature of what is changing. Take a spectrometer for example, a machine that measures color; It can tell when something is red only because we told it beforehand what red looks like to us. ————————————————————————- How we perceive color is very similar to how one would correctly color match a gallon of paint. When customers want paint they usually choose a color sample and using the ID number on the sample we find a formula to make the paint. The formula is the amount of different tint (concentrated colorant) that is to be added to a gallon of pure white paint. Customers can also bring in a color and the computer can look at it and create a formula. Before this color matching can happen, however, the computer has to be calibrated. Calibration gives the computer two constants, black and white, and it creates the formula based on the established color spectrum in between black and white. This is not an exact science because pitch black is hard to find and as a result, colors generally come out lighter than the originals.—————————————————- A significant observation is that people have faith in their senses above all other faith. A pilgrim may believe that God will not allow him to die while practicing his religion but the pilgrim still looks both ways before crossing the street. A common part of a definition of faith is the belief in something that can not be proven. Most people would say that they trust their senses because they believe what is sensed can be proven. I do not believe that sense can be proven to be a reflection of reality. To prove that, we would have to know how the brain processes the impulses it receives, a topic about which the most intelligent neuroscientists in the world wouldnt venture to debate.—————- What we know is that electrical impulses relay information about the world around us to our brain, which converts these impulses into something we understand. The process of understanding these senses is not understood. We also know that language plays a large role in cognitive recognition. According to the Sapir-Wharf Hypothesis: language, in addition to reflecting the values and experiences of a culture, is necessary and instrumental in shaping our perception of reality. If a culture does not have experience of something, they do not have a word for it and it is impossible to completely comprehend. In Chinese, for example, there is only one word for red in all shades. A native Chinese does not fully comprehend the difference between maroon and pink even if both colors were presented. A more concrete example is the impossibility of explaining snow to native people located in the tropics. These groups of people can not comprehend the concept, no matter how long a description of snow may be.———————————————————– Another import question to consider is what cant we sense? Plato believed our world is but a shadow of a greater one, the place where objective truth can be found. Any truth we find here in this realm is a reflection of a universal truth that we can not perceive fully. It is difficult to think about what we can not observe through our senses because of the inherent problems with comprehending anything that is not a part of our reality. ————————– This problem is similar to the astronomical problem, Paradox of the Night Sky, which tries to answer the question of why the night sky is not bright white. There are an infinite number of stars in the sky extending in all directions with an infinite number of ages so if the universe is mostly empty space then we should be able to see all these stars and the night sky would be lit up like the face of the sun. The currently accepted explanation is the existence of dark matter, which is unobservable yet blocks our line of sight to most of the universe. This is a concept that while difficult to understand, is not unreasonably applicable to the earth. There could be things that we cannot perceive because our brain does not acknowledge their existence and therefore does not present them to our conscious mind.————————————— Hallucinations are often described as an alternate reality by those who are experiencing them and delusions by most people. I do not believe that hallucinations, drug induced or otherwise, show people a glimpse of an existing alternate reality or even a comparative one to a sober view of reality. What is significant about tripping is that senses are often crossed or heightened. People describe hearing colors or watching sound while some senses are heightened to where you might be able to hear a dog whistle. This shows how easily the sensorial brain activity can be disrupted. If our sensory perception can be altered so easily how can we begin to believe our senses?—————– A persons faith in god is demonstrated by their actions and is not questioned because the maxim is It is a matter of faith. The existence of god, however, is questioned constantly through innumerable points of view and lines of reasoning. Yet most people trust their senses almost completely. In such a debate, one could counter the question of the existence of god with the question of the existence of a blue sky and still never prove anything.———————-

Government and Media : A dependant relationship

Government and Media: A dependant relationship

RQ: How has the relationship between the Government and the Media changed over time with regards to covering military conflicts? 

 Information is power and it is safe to say that the United States wishes to be the most powerful country in the world. The most dangerous and coveted kind of information at this time is military information and given it’s ambition for global preeminence, the United States has made an art of selectively presenting military information so as to advance the goals of the administration. This in turn powerfully and effectively influences the news media in America as well as the public opinion concerning the actions of the government. The literature on the topic can be categorized by conflict, with the major changes occurring after the Vietnam War. After Vietnam the government changed its relationship with the press because it was thought that unsupervised journalists had had a negative impact on both the progress of the war and the perception of it back home.  The White House in particular made it’s relationship with the press “more adversarial, making presidents more certain than ever that reports from the battlefield will do damage to their own efforts as well as the national interest…this fear has motivated the White House to seek greater controls over what the media reports” (Thrall, 2000, p.47). Military actions in Grenada and Panama reflected the change as US reporters were restricted from access to the short conflicts.  The media during the first gulf conflict reflected another change in the relationship with the White House.  George H.W. Bush used the press to bolster support while at the same time imposing greater restrictions and censorship on battlefield reporting.  During the US invasion of Afghanistan and the current war in Iraq, the administration also used the press to create support for the military actions. This was very effective in the early stages of conflict immediately following the attacks of 9/11 but lost public support when many of the administration’s claims concerning Iraq turned out to be misleading.The most extensive literature has been written about Operation Desert Storm because it was the first large scale US military conflict that could be covered using modern media techniques and the administration did not want the coverage to mirror that of Vietnam. Many of the strategies on selective information release and censorship were also developed during this time and were extended into the currant conflicts.  The most significant theories used to create this government-military-media complex are framing, agenda-setting, and representation. It should come as no surprise that the most prolific author on the subject is Lance W. Bennett.During the Vietnam conflict, journalists were given practically unfettered access to the battlefield. They could go anywhere they wanted at their own expense and when traveling with an army platoon, there were no guidelines as to what could or could not be reported on, the decisions being left to the unit commanders (Barber, 2002).  The result was that Americans at home saw actual death on TV almost daily and also watched the growing body count come home in coffins. “War has always been beastly, but the Vietnam War was the first exposed to television cameras and seen in practically every home, often in living color” (Lewy in Huebner, 2005 p.2). This realistic/ “negative” coverage led many to conclude that this kind of unrestricted reporting was undermining the war effort and retroactive studies have also blamed the media for losing the war (Hiebert, 2003).  As a result, we do not see firefights or American bodies on TV (unless as a romanticized reenactment on the military channel) and the daily death count is relegated to a blurb in the international section in most major papers.During the Reagan administration, significant restrictions were placed on the press in the invasions of Grenada and Panama.  At the time Bennett agreed that “The art of message management was never carried to a higher form than during the Reagan years” (Bennett, 1988 p.90).  The press was banned outright from the two day invasion of Grenada and so all news of the invasion was gathered by military officials and released to the media by the White House. The media was granted slightly more access during the invasion of Panama although the newly elected president Bush ensured that there would be no images of war and information about the conflict would be carefully managed.  Then secretary of defense Dick Cheney was a vocal proponent of press restrictions,“About half the time, the White House press corp is going to be pissed off, and that’s alright. You’re not here to please them. The most powerful tool you have is the ability to use the symbolic aspects of the presidency to promote your goals and objectives…You don’t let the press set the agenda. They like to decide what is important and what isn’t important, but if you let them do that, they’re going to trash your presidency.”  (Thrall, 2000 p.134)Here is the former Secretary of Defense and current Vice President admitting that the White House needs to use agenda-setting and representation tactics to control the information released to the media.

            Leading up to Operation Desert Storm, the first Bush administration used framing and representation techniques to gain support.  Saddam Hussein was likened to Hitler frequently, most often citing his use of chemical weapons on civilians as a comparison point. A pre-WWII frame was introduced as comparisons were made between the German invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (Bennett, 1993).  The press largely ignored some pertinent facts about Hussein, such as our very recent support of the country against Iran and the existence of terror cells based in Kuwait and instead reported on the rhetoric delivered by the administration.  

          When the actual attack took place, a short-lived and unique situation occurred that ironically changed the source of information about the initial bombing. During the initial bombing, the only source of information coming out of Baghdad was from CNN. Senior military officials on both sides admitted that on that night, the most valuable information pertaining to the conflict was on TV without the administration as middleman (Wiener, 1992).  

          Some scholars have argued that during the fighting, the media had the opportunities to report on the war objectively but most major media outlets chose instead to romanticize the conflict.  There was large support for the conflict initially and so the media focused on human interest stories with all the elements of good drama. The media amplified the idea that this was a just cause and that the US was quickly and effectively achieving victory (Hallin & Gitlin, 1994).  This can be viewed as a success story on the part of the US administration because the media did not ask for anything other than what the government gave them.  

          The agenda setting function of mass media was evident in Operation Desert Storm largely because the public supported the conflict. The effect is that increases in news coverage bring about increases in the salience of particular issues or events.  Given this effect, stories about the war were framed to be event driven and were often structured like episodes. (Iyengar & Simon, 1994).  This technique was effective in presenting the war as positive while at the same time limiting potentially confusing background information.  It seems that the media felt that the American people were not capable of understanding or not interested in historical implications or tangential information. 

           We can see the agenda setting function at the end of the conflict as well in that once US soldiers left Iraq, media coverage of Iraq ended. President Bush urged the Iraqi people to rise up against Saddam but without the backing of the United States, the opposition was slaughtered. Following the news during this time, one would not have seen this as a salient issue because there was little news coverage devoted to it.  

          The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are still very much ongoing conflicts and as such, the effects of government-press-public relations can not be seen fully without the benefit of hindsight. In this case, the most significant discussions have to do with the release of information leading up to military operations and the findings after “Mission Accomplished”. Particularly evident and significant in the literature is the conflict between motives and actions. Often it seems that the administration will have an undisclosed plan and waits for an event that can be used to justify the plan. 

             To build the case for a unilateral “War on Terrorism”, President Bush used similar framing and representation strategies.  The attacks on September 11 were likened very quickly to the attack on Pearl Harbor, framing any response to such an attack as justified. Many still refer to the event as the first attack on American soil since World War Two (Mohamad, 2004).  This kind of statement strikes an emotional chord with many Americans despite the fact of its complete falsehood. There have been many attacks on American soil since WWII, some coming from international sources and some coming from domestic ones, Oklahoma City and the 1993 WTC bombing to name a few. 

           Making the case for invading Afghanistan immediately following 9/11 was fairly easy for the administration because they had actual evidence that the terrorist group responsible was based there with the support of the local government. This was compounded by the brutal and psychotic actions of the Taliban and as a result the bill passed with only a single dissenter in the House of Representatives (Snow & Taylor, 2006).  There were concerns based on the failure of the Soviets to gain control of the country but with a quick defeat of the opposition, these fears were alleviated and for the purposes of public relations, the war was won.   

         It is important to note that the names of military actions and congressional acts were important as part of the representation strategy.  Voting against the Patriot Act is obviously unpatriotic, just look at the name. Dissenting on the matter of Operation Iraqi Freedom means one does not want the Iraqis to be free etc.  This transparent representation is so overt, there is little written on the subject, the effects being fairly obvious.            Making the case for war in Iraq was far more difficult because there was no actual evidence that the country was a threat to the United States.  The invasion was already predetermined, however, so justification had to be created.  The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a group consisting of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Lewis Libby wrote a report in September 2000 that stated that “while the unresolved conflict with Iraq [referencing failed UN inspections] provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force in the gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein” (Joseph, 2007 p.43 & Kumar, 2006 p.54).   

         With the plans for invasion already in progress, intelligence had to be gathered that showed a link between Hussein and Al Qaeda and that Iraq itself was a threat to the US. While the claims would later be revealed as false, the idea that Iraq was involved in 9/11 and also possessed WMDs was repeated over and over by senior government officials across major American media outlets, who in turn amplified the fear created by these assertions. George W. Bush explained the goal in 2002, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda” (Joseph, 2007 p.45). It seems clear that the rhetoric coming out of the administration was important for the media because it was the only source of information concerning the intelligence. This kind of absolute reliance on elite sources with regards to information effectively made the White House the ultimate gatekeeper and framer of the motivations for war.   

         Looking at the conflict currently, there is a new development that threatens to erode the government hold on military information.  Embedded reporters can only see what the government wants them to see but recently there has been a rise in soldiers reporting their experiences directly to the internet. As the technology spreads, it will not be long before ordinary civilians in a war zone can release perhaps vital information instantly to the world.  The question is whether or not the major American media outlets will continue to rely heavily on elite sources and nationalistic considerations when reporting on military conflicts?  Evolving video and picture technology also raises the question of how much longer will warfare continue to be sanitized and romanticized on American TV?  The government no longer controls the release of intelligence as it would like to and this can be seen clearly in the decline of presidential approval ratings.  The outcome of the Iraq conflict will be have to be determined by actions based on facts and not rhetoric based on unseen motives.  

          Since “losing” the Vietnam War, American administrations have changed their policies with respect to information management in order to retain control of what the media reports and its impact on public opinion. As media technologies evolved, so did strategies for gathering and delivering information to the media on the part of the government. The common goal across the various conflicts is to present the positive news as most significant and to downplay or bury negative news. At times the news media has been collaborators in this process and at other times they simply lacked access to unbiased, non-elite sources.   

     Alexseev, Mikhail A., Bennett, Lance W. (1995). For Whom the Gates Open: News Reporting and Government Source Patterns in the United States, Great Britain, and Russia. Political Communication, 12 (4), 395-412. Barber, Ryan, Weir, Tom. (2002). Vietnam to Desert Storm: Topics, Sources Change. Newspaper Research Journal, 23, 88-100. Bennett, Lance W., Livingston, Steven. (2003) Editors’ Introduction: A Semi-Independent Press: Government Control and Journalistic Autonomy in the Political Construction of News. Political Communication, 20 (4), 359-364. 

Bennett, Lance W., Paletz, David L., Eds. (1994). Taken by Storm. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press

 Bennett, Lance W. (1988). Politics of Illusion. White Plains, NY: Longman Publishers Bennett, Lance W., Manheim, Jarol B. (1993). Taking the Public by Storm: Information, Cuing, and the Democratic Process in the Gulf Conflict. Political Communication, 10 (4), 331-351. 

Greenburg, Bradley S., Gantz, Walter, Eds. (1993). Desert Storm and the Mass Media. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, INC.

 

Hallin, Danial C., Gitlin, Todd. (1994) The Gulf War as popular culture and television drama. In Bennett, Lance W., Paletz, David L. (Eds.). Taken by Storm.(pp. 149-166). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press

 Hiebert, Ray Eldon. (2003). Public relations and propaganda in framing the Iraq war: A preliminary review. Public Relations Review, 29 (3), 243-256. Huebner, Andrew J. (2005). Rethinking American Press Coverage of the Vietnam War, 1965-68. Journalism History, 31 (3), 150-161. 

Iyengar, Shanto & Simon, Adam. (1994). News coverage of the gulf crisis and public opinion: A study of Agenda-Setting, Priming, and Framing. In Bennett, Lance W., Paletz, David L. (Eds.)  Taken by Storm.(pp. 167-185). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press

 

Joseph, Paul. (2007). Are Americans Becoming More Peaceful?. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers

 Kumar, Deepa. (2006). Media, War, and Propaganda: Strategies of Information Management During the 2003 Iraq War. Communication & Critical/Cultural Studies, 3 (1), 48-69. 

Mohamad, Goenawan. (2004). War, Words, and Images. In Van Der Veer, Peter & Munshi, Shoma. (Eds.). Media, War, and Terrorism. (pp.187-197). New York, NY: Routledge

 Snow, Nancy & Taylor, Philip M. (2006).The Revival of the propaganda state. International Communication Gazette, 6 (5/6), 389-407. 

Thrall, Trevor A. (2000). War in the Media Age. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, INC.

 

Van Der Veer, Peter & Munshi, Shoma, Eds. (2004). Media, War, and Terrorism. New York, NY: Routledge

 

Wiener, Robert. (1992). Live from Baghdad: Gathering news at ground zero. New York, NY: Doubleday

      

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

                                    Cognitive Dissonance Theory

 

Mass Communication Theory

  

Auster, Donald (1965). Attitude change and cognitive dissonance. Journal of Marketing Research (JMR). Vol. 2 Issue 4, p401-406

 

Using an experiment designed to evaluate the persuasiveness of ideological vs. technical propaganda; the author finds that the ideological propaganda is more effective in influencing the participants. “Further analysis provided empirical support for cognitive dissonance as an explanation”(abstract). The study showed that despite being less liked, the ideological propaganda was more effective because it correlated more closely with the participants’ preconceived attitudes and beliefs.

This study was significant in that it shows how cognitive dissonance theory can explain the increase in the effectiveness of communication messages.  This study contributed to the theory by applying it to propaganda and showing how the concept can be manipulated to influence opinion.

 

Morwitz, V. G.; Pluzinski, C (1996). Do polls reflect opinions or do opinions reflect polls? The impact of political polling on voters’ expectations, preferences, and behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 23, no. 1, 53-67

 

            Using evidence from the 1992 Presidential campaign and the 1993 New York city mayoral campaign, the authors examines the effects of opinion polls on the decision making process of voters. The author finds that “voters use political polls to maintain or move to a state of cognitive consistency” (abstract).  The authors use “cognitive dissonance theory as the basis for their predictions” (Morwitz, 1996 p.55)

            This study uses cognitive dissonance theory to show that voters may change their minds to closer reflect the perceived public opinion. The major contribution of this study to the theory is to show how easily people can be influenced by concepts related to the theory, even regarding to very important decisions.

 

DeSantis, Alan (2003). Sometimes a Cigar [Magazine] is More Than Just a Cigar [Magazine]: Pro-Smoking Arguments in Cigar Aficionado, 1992-2000. Health Communication [1041-0236] vol:15 iss:4, 457 -480

            By examining the pro-smoking messages in the magazine Cigar Aficionado, the author shows that up to seven different message types “serve to relieve the cognitive dissonance associated with consuming a potentially deadly product and maintain a loyal readership” (abstract). The author finds that the magazine has been successful in reducing cognitive dissonance associated with cigars and as a result, the popularity and usage of cigars has increased.             This study extends cognitive dissonance theory by examining how a positive cognitive dissonance (cigars are harmful) can be reduced by using messages that run counter to the preconceived dissonance. The study shows how cognitive dissonance can be intentionally manipulated and dismantled using conflicting messages.  The study also contributes to the theory because it shows a substantial effect on the cigar market, indicative of the power of cognitive dissonance. 

Chyng Feng Sun, Karin Scharrer, Erica (2004). Staying True to Disney: College Students’ Resistance to Criticism of The Little Mermaid. Communication Review, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p35-55

 

Using a college media literacy program, the author examines students’ perceived differences between Disney’s The Little Mermaid and the original fairytale upon which the film was based.  The purpose was to see how students would react to a negative comparison and critique of the film bearing in mind the lifelong positive exposure to the film and Disney in general. The author found that students generally did not change their positive attitudes towards the film, despite criticism and negative comparison to the original fairy tale.

            This study is significant with respect to cognitive dissonance theory because it focuses on the difficulty of dismantling preconceived attitudes and opinions, “our first observation was how deeply penetrating Disney’s influence had been.”(Chyng, 2004 p.53) The contribution of this study to the theory is in showing how deeply influential messages received in childhood remain strong many years after the exposure.