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Media consumption – the violence debate

Does the news media focus too heavily on violence to capture viewers at all costs? 

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The media’s portrayal of violence has become the dominant theme in the news and has begun creeping deeper into our personal lives and perception of the world outside the television or newspaper. 

As of lately, violence reigns in the hierarchy of news coverage; and the news media dictates what stories should be more important, but the average media consumer never really thinks about the strategy behind what they see or read. 

Researchers have studied the amount of violence in the media since radio and television were first being created, but there are not very many studies being conducted currently.

As news programs tend to always find ways to stay conveniently excluded from most of these studies the few studies that included news media into their sampling population simply conclude the obvious; violence is the focal point of the news and predominately stories about violence that resulted in death. 

These studies recorded what stories were shown throughout various news programs and most of the programs covered stories that involved violence. Most of the research calculated that 50 percent or more of the time news programs contained stories about violence. That means 50 percent of the time the news had to use up, covered stories about violent crimes, and more than half of the stories were about violent crimes.

Most of these studies involved watching news stations, local and national, for at least three months at a time and measured the time used on stories about violence.

An enigmatic case of a strategically over-played story of violence in the media came to us last year with the tragic Aurora shooting.  Early on, news outlets did a good job of reporting and covering the incident and releasing all the details, but the coverage quickly got redundant. The over reporting was apparent on every news station, every day and for months.  It became clear quickly that the will for quality reporting transformed into an occasion for the news media to, once again, resurrect the issue of gun control or second amendment rights.

For many of us, constant coverage of the Aurora shooting was fatiguing, but media directors made the strategic decision to keep running the story and force it into relevancy, but why? 

Individual news producers, editors, and program directors hold to their own theories of how to get ratings or sell papers.  Yet most media leaders agree violent stories are a quick way to keep the viewer’s and reader’s attention. 

How do we measure the give and take of constant exposure to violent media?

“Bad News Revisited: The Portrayal of Violence, Conflict, and Suffering on Television News,” tackles this issue.  Johnson’s study monitored television news broadcasts over a six month period and measured the violent stories that were shown. It included national network news, local news, independent super-station news and cable network news.  

This research was then compared with other studies that were conducted in earlier years.  It was argued that news corporations overemphasize violent crimes and these news stories are falling short of providing true contextual explanations of current events. It even went further to say that the news feeds more on the tragic and emotional elements of current events, which can have long-term affect on individual’s perception of the real world. 

Detectives have been saying for years that mass murder shooters might have been negatively affected and influenced to kill by the news media. The Newtown shooter, some have argued, was a copy-cat killer, who wished to murder more people than a particular Norwegian mass shooter. It’s ironic that the news corporations like NBC, CNN, and local news stations like KOAA have been the ones mentioning this correlation between mass shootings and the shooter’s exposure to violent stories in the news. 

This is when critics begin to question the philosophy of media, which has been essentially the same since the dawn of the twentieth century. Researchers like Marshall McLuhan and Walter Benjamin tried to explain people’s relationship with media.

McLuhn explained how people watched their TV so much that they actually started to believe they were more connected with the TV than the people around them. So when they watched TV, these messages being relayed through the media were actually being massaged into the human mind. 

Media technology has become so advanced, that there are no limitations to what people can see or hear. People can re-watch stories about serial killers and mass murders at their leisure; however, in most cases this is unnecessary because the news stations will do that for you already.  Repetition is a form of remembrance for the human mind and if a story is over reported, then people are subconsciously going to be led to remember these things they have repeatedly heard and seen. 

Are news directors purposely recycling these stories? Most editors, producers, and directors say no and some news directors have asserted that they are simply reporting what’s really happening. There’s no easy way to explain why media leaders choose the stories you see on TV, but some people have come to the conclusion that it’s a form of covert influence. 

Why would the news stations want to influence you covertly?  Is it business – ratings and reader retention, or might is it personal – political and ideological conditioning? There is no conclusive evidence supporting either of these claims, but it really makes you wonder.

Critical media consumers have to make their own decision about what media she or he will frequent. Whether consumers feel the media shows too much violence or the violence is simply an expression of liberty, the one certain fact is the media doesn’t show any signs of changing its programming.

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APRIL 1: Iceburg’s 17 minute investigation into April Fool’s Day

While April 1 should evoke a mandatory grin followed by a, “By-the-pecs-of-Poseidon, what’s that mega-crap on your shirrr – made ya look,” the scrolls of time tell us there were people who and events that replaced the frivolous, laid-back attitude that April Fools’ Day is celebrated for with the motivation to be forever recognized within the highest echelon of killjoys.

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Humor is to wellbeing as a tightened fist is to a lighthearted crotch-shot: they both leave you breathless, on your knees in a rejuvenating stupor (or in a red-rain of pain!), and eager to contribute to or reciprocate the joke (or low-blow) with giddy enthusiasm. 

With this month being helmed by All Fools’ Day, we’ve never been more accepting of the hysteria that comes with being barraged in the funny bone; regrettably, history doesn’t share our excitement. While April 1 should evoke a mandatory grin followed by a, “By-the-pecs-of-Poseidon, what’s that mega-crap on your shirrr – made ya look,” the scrolls of time tell us there were people who and events that replaced the frivolous, laid-back attitude that April Fools’ Day is celebrated for with the motivation to be forever recognized within the highest echelon of killjoys.

Those people and events include…  

The Pope Who Fooled the French

New Year’s Day was originally on April 1. No, really. Several ancient cultures, like the Romans and the Hindus, marked the now notorious day for practical tomfoolery as the beginning of the year because the date closely aligned with the Vernal Equinox, which is usually around March 20. 

In 1582 Pope Gregory “Me So Fresh” XIII ordered the use of the new calendar. It placed New Year’s in January, and when the change was made, rumor says that many of the French were either unaware of or rebelling against the date change and continued to celebrate New Year’s on April 1. These traditionalists became one of the most rotund butts in the history of jokes, and April Fools’ Day was born. 

The Volcano That Burst Forth (Probably Because It Took Offense to a Joke)

If we’ve learned a single piece of [mis]information from the science portion of our grade school education, it’s that a volcano’s ease to anger is only equaled by its unwillingness to be a comedic punch-line. You’ve at least witnessed parts of the eventful life cycle of a volcano on the Discovery Channel (before reality shows like Rise of the Stink People began oozing their irrelevance over the airwaves); its dome was seemingly sedated, calmly drooling its molten effluence down a thirty-degree grass patch at speeds that an infant in flame-retardant pajama bottoms could out-roll. Unexpectedly, like the quick snap of a sucker punch, the cameraman or the millionaire working pro bono as an expert in lava composition cracked a bad joke at the volcano’s expense, and all hell leaked, boiled, blew, and broke loose. 

This might have been the case on April 1, 1793, when a collapsing lava dome — Mayu-yama from Mount Unzen, an active group of volcanoes on Japan’s Kyushu Island — triggered a landslide that rioted through Shimabara City and belly flopped into the Ariaka Sea, creating a pant-fertilizing megatsunami that reached the titanic heights of 330 ft., which combined with the land slide killed an estimated 15, 000 good humored citizens. 

The man who offended the snoozing goliath with salty humor was never found (or existed), but if he was (or did exist), we’re assuming: (A) he was a white guy (because that’s provocative), and (B) he was a would-be galactic samurai, i.e. the megalomaniacal ancestor of Thomas Cruise Mapother IV (AKA Tom “The Pleasure” Cruise). 

The Novelist Who Sneered at a Royal Suggestion

You don’t tell royalty no, unless, of course, you’re Jane Austen (or a free spirit dying to experience exile). On April 1, 1816, Austen responded to a letter from the Prince Regent regarding a suggestion to write a historic romance by saying, “I could not sit down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life.” 

Maybe it was a joke: “Prince Regent, your story pitch is awful; I wouldn’t consider it unless my life was on the line… April fools!” 

Claire Harman, author of “Jane’s Fame,” talked on NPR on March 25, 2010, about Austen’s personality in addition to her popularity, and it turns out everything you’d imagine Austen to be is probably true: she was witty, cynical, and judging by her response to the Prince Regent, a little bit headstrong. 

Harman says that Austen’s fame was, in a way, rekindled by the biography written by her nephew. “James Edwards’ memoir of his aunt made her into a sort of sentimental object. You know, and people loved her as a person and as a character, as well as the books and sometimes instead of the books,” Harman said. 

The idea, however, that Austen had a meek and mild personality would not be accurate. Who would have thought?

“She wasn’t necessarily a nice person at all. I mean there’s really nothing in the letters to suggest anything other than a very sharp-witted and at times rather acid-tongued woman,” Harman said. 

So the whole “screw you Prince Regent” thing probably wasn’t a joke then. You go, girl! 

The Theory That Big-Banged Science

Melodramatic male studs who claim ladies to be the ficklest of life’s challenges need to escort Science on a dinner date or two: During the appetizer (cheese sticks), Science would intimately observe your surface area to get an estimate of your internal composition. She’d alleviate your physical insecurities by assuring, “Your name’s Pluto? How cute! I hear that small planets are in touch with their emotional side.” 

But the moment the dessert platter (Hazelnut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousse served on an Astronaut’s face shield) lands on the table, she’d be all curled up on Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, bragging about how she recategorized you as a Dwarf Planet, Science’s way of catapulting you into the “friend zone.” 

Science played the Steady State Theory in the same sort of way; prior to April 1, 1948, cosmological opinions were split between whether Steady State Theory or the Big Bang accurately described the origin and continuing development of the cosmos. But once the Big Bang Theory was officially proposed on the date listed by subjectively sexy, objectively brilliant geniuses Ralph Alpher and George Gamow in Physical Review through the essay “The Origins of Chemical Elements,” Big Bang began to gradually earn more favor within Science’s academic bedchambers. Science has been developing excuses to keep Steady State in the “friend zone” ever since. 

The Revolution That Preferred Loss-of-Life over Laughter 

Remember when McCarthyism was a thing? It was kind of a blip in American history. Luckily, China out did us. How often do you get to say that? 

Roughly ten years after the red scare settled down in America, the Cultural Revolution in China became the cool new trend. Just by chance, the nationwide witch-hunt for capitalists started on April 1, 1966. 

Admiration for market economies is no joke. 

This was the era of Mao Zedong and communism was at its peak. Zedong feared the country was headed in the wrong direction, so he called on China’s youth to put the country’s political ideology back on the right – well, left track. 

Nearly 1.5 million Chinese lost their lives and tons more felt the wrath of a large group of angsty, nationalistic teenagers. Take that, laws of supply and demand. 

By Leviathan Robb & Ginger Jones

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Profiles of our beloved supreme leaders – Kim Jong-Un, Paul Ryan and Chris Brown

Three men who want to rule the world and are the truest examples of what a supreme leader should be.

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Kim Jong-Un

At only 30 years old this bright individual is the supreme leader of North Korea. Not only has Kim Jong-Un legalized pizza he has also forced employees at the local gourmet restaurant, McDonalds to serve breakfast until noon. Sure he threatens people with nukes every day, what teenager who plays Call of Duty doesn’t? Kimmy is such an inspirational figure to local teens, they can really learn how to be a social success and loved worldwide.  Rumor has it that Kim has sent all local redheads to South Korea so that they can find Seoul—whatever that means. If your bratty little brace faced sweetheart won’t listen, why not pick up a copy of Kim’s new book, “The Nukes of Hazzard.”


Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan looks like a model straight off a package of Hanes boxer briefs—the look every politician strives for. Who cares if he has just graduated from pampers to public dampers. After recently announcing, “We are not going to give up on destroying the healthcare system”, his ratings went through the roof– taking with it your average American’s basic personal rights. Ryan is the guy you can go to with all of your personal problems, sure he won’t listen but you’ll be sidetracked by his baby blues. Like Kit-Kat give him a break! If Paul Ryan were an item at Big R he would be the perfect tool bag.   Paul Ryan has the kind of personality only a mother could love—which is totally in right now. 


Chris Brown

If young men want to know how to be the perfect guy look no further than Chris Brown. When Chris was a child listening to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” he took it to heart by utilizing the lyrics and incorporating them into everyday life.  Brown likes his women like he prefers his eggs; beaten and over easy. When Rihanna (Browns’ current girlfriend) told Chris that she wanted a “black guy” he misheard her and gave her a love stamp right across her face—now that’s love.  Recently, Rihanna had taken up a career in stand-up comedy at high school proms but soon gave up another one of her dreams due to Brown’s embarrassing behavior. Reports say he kept “beating her to the punch line.”

   

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Talking to the ‘that’s what she said’ girl at your mom’s house

Her name is Lauretta Scapini, and she is the “she” of “that’s what she said.” I ask her the hard questions.

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I recently sat down with a woman we all know, but few would actually recognize. Her name is Lauretta Scapini, and she is the “she” of “that’s what she said.” I ask her the hard questions.  

Iceburg: Hi Lauretta, thank you so much for meeting me today.

Lauretta Scapini: Of course, thank you for having me.

Ice-B: That’s what she said. 

LS: Yes, yes it is. 

Ice-B: Nice. So how did this whole thing get started? How have you taken the blame for so much, and please excuse my lack of decorum, but sluttiness?

LS: That’s a great question, thank you. Well, as many people probably know, the phrase “that’s what she said” gained tremendous popularity on the NBC hit show The Office. You know the one where the boss tries to screw over his employees?

Ice-B: That’s wh- um of course.

LS: I knew some of the guys on the set, you know, as a woman in my profession would–

Ice-B: Which would be what, exactly?

LS: Isn’t it obvious? I make wax sticks to light on fire. I’m a candlestick maker. 

Ice-B: Excuse me?

LS: It’s a very erotic field, and I mean come on, look at me. I’m a California “10,” which is like a New Mexico “87.” Don’t take it wrong.

Ice-B: None taken. So tell me more about being a candlestick maker and how that brought you to work with set guys at The Office.

LS: I’ve always been fascinated by my ability to mold wax into shapes, then just watch it burn. The scent combinations is probably the most exciting part of it. Anyway. I had a series of videos that were posted on YouTube that have since been removed where I walked the audience through the process of making candles, step by step. I know how men — and even some women — look at me, so I knew the best way for me to really market myself and my candles would be to play up my sexuality. So everything I said was meant to taken as euphemism. (Editor’s note: We love to take euphemisms.)

Ice-B: What would you say to those who criticize that sort of behavior? Discussions about who “she” must be inevitably turn to accusations of promiscuity and defamations of “her” character.

LS: It’s the cross I choose to bear. As much as I loved Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, I can’t help but feel more connection to the work and theory of Audre Lorde, specifically her discussions of intersectionality. As a beautiful, intelligent, mixed-race woman, I’ve found it frustrating to live and accept any sort of authentic experience that posits we live in simple binary oppositions that serve to differentiate men from women. Lorde maintains that there are a whole slew of categories and subdivisions for characterizing women because each experience is authentic and different and beautiful and can’t possibly speak to the whole experience of being a woman; of being a feminist. 

Ice-B: So by being overtly sexual, you’re helping women? I don’t understand. 

LS: We’re taught using the master’s tools. Our culture is a patriarchal one that we’re wholly dependent on. So I take what’s expected of me and blow it… out of proportion. 

Ice-B: Has it been hard? 

LS: That’s what I said. [Laughs] But yeah, it has been. It’s been a long, hard, road full of bumps and bruises, leather and lace– 

Ice-B: Ample alliterations. 

LS: Exactly. But my work isn’t done. We tend to categorize everyone: races, religions, genders, sexual orientations. If the world was meant to be black and white, we wouldn’t have colors. As much as women are forced into specific roles, men are, too. They need to know that they’re not sex machines, expected to fertilize the earth. And until I can get people to accept and own their sexuality, I won’t quit. I’m not finished yet.

Ice-B: That’s what he said.

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