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I shall begin this discussion with questions and posers

What role(s) do the media play in achieving social change objectives?
Are these roles measurable?
Are they replicable considering that media consumption is affected by the cultural environment
What is the relationship between media consumption and literacy?
How does poverty affect media consumption?
What is social change, is it propaganda?

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Replies to This Discussion

a few scattered thoughts in response to Chukwuemeka's questions:

a) i would say that the media, at least in the U.S., largely serve to preserve the "status quo" in many ways:
1. they tend to frame debates very narrowly;
2. largely ignore, play down or even demonize protests and other social movements' actions (the 1999 protests in Seattle are an oft-cited example);
3. contribute to a culture of fear (here we could argue whether the media creates this fear or simply reflects it).
4. ignore ongoing injustices that don't feature "mediagenic" "events.";
5. they very rarely ask the "why" questions, nevermind highlighting contingencies and asking questions about "how it could be otherwise."
Chomsky has written much more on the ways media reinforce and "manufacture consent" for the legitimacy and policies of elites (both governmental and business).

at the same time, there are certainly some "progressive" journalists in "mainstream" media that work against their contextual constraints to create media that reflects the goals of social movements, brings ignored viewpoints to the table, shines light on injustices and violence around the world, etc. there also seems to be a rise in "independent" or "alternative" media production. it is the possibilities and limits of independent media that i am most interested in.

do others in this group think that my interest is misplaced because of the overwhelming power of "mainstream" media?

i didn't get past the first question Chukwuemeka posed, but i think this probably already running on a bit long. Look forward to hearing from others!
Hi - some quick responses to your questions in the same chronology:

The role of media in achieving social change objectives is well demonstrated; however, the impacts are not that of a "magic bullet" as was believed many decades ago, but rather a process in which media audience read and interpret media differently, depending on their own motivation, ability etc to act on the information in the media..

Yes, the impacts are measureable, especially in the case of specifically designed communication/media campaigns - but what can be measured, how, and the issue of causal attribution are things that need further discussion.

No, not necessarily replicable because of cultural factors as you point out, but broad approaches - such as advocacy, edutainment etc - yes.

This question and the others overall, are very broad, so it all depends on multiple factors - onwership of media technology, how you define consumption etc etc. And yes, social change communication in its poorest form is propaganda - which counts on didactic messaging rather than triggering discussions, thinking etc which the former is intended to achieve.

Hope this helps - but your questions are very broad, and merit a much longer discussion


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