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Media's Role in the Public Perception of
1.) Hypothetical Scenario: You
are a reporter for a major news network covering the state of national
security. You will be giving a report that discusses the possibility
of a terrorist attack on the United States. Recent findings have
revealed that there is cause for concern in terms of terrorist strikes,
yet there is no substantial evidence as to when such a strike would
occur. Nonetheless, your chief editor has requested that your headline
read, "Terrorists Threaten Another Attack on American Soil."
If your story goes to print with a headline such as this, you may
be invoking a heightened sense of fear and anxiety in the public.
You know that some people may only read the headline and may never
get to the bulk of the article, which states that there is a cause
for concern, but not a direct threat. Should this be a concern,
or should you trust that most people would read your article in
its entirety? Understanding that the American public has a right
to know about possible attacks, you must question if alerting the
public will be beneficial or if it will cause harm to the mental
and/or economic health of the country.
If you strongly believe the headline is misleading, is removing
your name from the byline sufficient?
2.) You are an embedded journalist with a front-line US infantry
division and have been covering the War with Iraq. Your reports
focus on the possibility of weapons of mass destruction (WMD's)
in Iraq. At the present time, there is no significant evidence of
Iraqi WMD's. Nevertheless, the US went to war with Iraq in
order to seek out these WMD's and they will be anticipating
a report stating that they were found. You are beginning to suspect
that there are no WMD's to be found and that the country went
to war under illegitimate pretenses. You understand that there still
could be WMD's not yet discovered. How do you report on the
status of WMD's in Iraq when you do not yet know the final
outcome of the search?
If you report that WMD's have not yet been found in Iraq,
this could be viewed as a questioning of the government's
actions to wage war with Iraq in the first place. Is it appropriate
to question the government in a time of political controversy due
to the tension it could cause with allied nations? Should this influence
your decision? Would it be more effective to save your questions
for a later time period? If not, is it possible to report the fact
that no significant amounts of WMD's have been found in Iraq, without
being accused of reporting with a bias?
On the other side of the issue, if you report that the military
should be given more time to search for WMD's, are you being objective?
If your contemporaries decide to report on the lack of evidence
proving WMD's in Iraq, how will that affect your image? Does their
reporting influence your decision?
3.) In George Orwell's 1984, a governmental organization known
as "big brother" has effectively taken control of the
world. They dominate individuals' free will with constant
monitors of their private residences and an authority over the flow
of information into their homes.
The recent deregulation of the media allows for companies to own
2 television stations reaching a national audience in midsize markets
and 3 in large ones. Realistically, a media company cannot gain
the political and authoritative power necessary to tell a nation
what it should be doing at each moment of the day. Nonetheless,
is it possible to monopolize the flow of information into a person's
home? If a company was able to do this, would they be able to control
America's thought process indirectly through the homogenized
products they advertised on their stations? How might this affect
America's state of national security? Is the media becoming
a real-life "big brother?"