Mass Media and Celebrities

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To begin, I must say that the political debate has become entertainment, has had the consequence that attention is concentrated on the personality of the politician rather than his message. These tendencies are characteristic of the kind of society that sociologist Richard Sennett calls the intimate society (Sennett 1974). Humans have become isolated from one another due to urbanization and division of labor in modern society, and consequently they have created an illusion of fellowship by attributing to other people the same feelings as they have themselves in order to satisfy the frustrated need for intimacy. People do not talk to one another on the street, but nevertheless they feel that they have something in common. This feeling of a group identity or a collective personality is created by a common fantasy, not by common actions.
Moreover, society has become so impersonal, complex, and difficult to grasp, that it appears meaningless unless you interpret it as personal. People will rather be moved by a charismatic leader than take a stance for or against his policy, just like they go to a theater to be moved by the actors (Way & Masters 1996, Sennett 1974). They are just tools invented for covering a psychological need to retract from public life and feel more like a person (Sennett 1974). An obvious example is the USA. During the economic depression around 1980, the population felt a need for a confidence inspiring leader who could solve the complicated social problems that people could not themselves comprehend. It was no accident that it was a former actor and movie hero, Ronald Reagan, who was elected for US president at that time (McCann 1991). The outcome of the election is determined more by acting talent than by political talent in such a situation.
It's a common observation that crises such as wars, recessions, stock market meltdowns, ethics scandals, and natural catastrophes often drive the public policymaking process. A crisis reveals a problem and then a public consensus emerges that policymakers must do something about it. The policy debate then centers on the best means to solve the problem.
One of the most important and frequent public service claims broadcasters make is that they provide exceptional service to the American public in times of local crises.
Broadcasters generated $ 9.9 billion in public service in the form of donated airtime for PSAs-money raised for charity and disaster relief. Broadcast public service also encompasses the coverage of emergency weather alerts that can mean the difference between life and death for viewers in the path of a tornado or hurricane.... Broadcasters also chronicled the events of September 11, 2001, with a degree of commitment and professionalism that drew universal praise. In the midst of the worst media recession in fifty years, stations all over America provided viewers with round-the-clock, advertising-free coverage of the horrific attack for nearly a week. In the aftermath of September 11, stations rallied the American spirit with PSAs, charity fundraising appeals, blood drives, and pleas for tolerance for immigrant neighbors
The 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina ("Katrina") cases are the two most proeminent recent examples of the broadcasters' use of crisis communications in their lobbying efforts. Broadcasters used those cases to make three controversial public service claims, called: 1) The Charity Claim, 2) The Emergency Information Claim, and 3) The Spectrum Use Claim. These public service claims were then incorporated into their overall lobbying strategy for preserving and expanding their current government granted privilege.
Local radio and television broadcasters raised a projected $1.2 billion for victims of disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding. Included in this figure are funds raised by local radio and television stations in their relief efforts for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Approximately $1 billion of the $1.2 billion disaster relief total resulted from station efforts that were directly related to the events of September 11.*
Yet, it is not clear how much fundraising would decline in the absence of the broadcasters' free publicity. There are other vehicles to publicize charitable activities, including via in-store promotions, concerts, sports events, direct mail, e-mail, churches, synagogues, newspapers, cable, satellite, and Internet. The charitable propensities of the American public could conceivably still be substantially exercised without the broadcasters' help.
Nevertheless, there are media celebrities that take charity actions, such as Alan Rickman, Alyssa Milano, Annie Lennox, Benicio del Toro, Bono, Brad Pitt, Claudia Schiffer, Danny Glover, Oprah, David Beckham, Eric Clapton, George Soros, Jeffrey Sachs, Liam Neeson, Madonna, Penelope Cruz, and others.
It is well known that Angelina Jolie is a Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). At the same time, she is an active supporter of the most various causes, such as Adoption, Fostering, Orphans, AIDS, Cancer, Children, Creative Arts, Disaster Relief, Economic / Business Support, Education, Environment, Health, Human Rights, Hunger, Peace, Poverty, Refugees, Water, Women and Feminism.
Jolie is on the board of advisors for the Yele Haiti Foundation, and with Brad Pitt took time to help Wyclef Jean with his Clean Streets project. Jolie also arranged a deal with People Magazine allowing them to print the first picture showing her visibly pregnant in exchange for a $500,000 donation to the charity.
Angelina has been travelling to refugee camps around the world since filming Tomb Raider. During her missions she has visited places including Sudan's war-torn Darfur, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Tanzania. She also visited Afghan refugees in Pakistan and donated $1 million to help.
Jolie is known to cover all of her costs while on missions, and shares the working and living conditions as the UNHCR field staff.
Jolie published Notes from My Travels, a collection of journal entries that chronicle her early field missions (2001-2002) with proceeds benefitting UNHCR.
Angelina has pledged $5 million to set up a wildlife sanctuary in the north-western province of Battambang in Cambodia.According to tax records, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt donated more than $8 million to charity in 2006 alone.
In January, 2008, Jolie and her brother, James Haven, marked the first anniversary of their mother's death from ovarian cancer by making an undisclosed donation to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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