In following the media coverage of Global Warming for the past several weeks, I have come to realise that representation of this issue is diverse. Initially I thought that it was the public who were divided over the issue, however it has become clear after analysing various sources that it is the media who portray differing and often confusing opinions. Despite varying perspectives on the issue itself, I discovered some underlying commonalities in the way in which the media instigate a response from their audience. The primary technique I have come to find is the use of fear throughout campaigns.
Covering this issue has allowed me to consider how much of an effect the ‘public sphere’ has on what content is publically mediated. Recent social turmoil has been the result of Julia Gillard’s (PM) announcement to introduce a Carbon tax, to be introduced around July 2012. My blog demonstrates intertextuality in using hyperlinks and embedded video of other sources, showing the mass array of sources available for consideration within the public sphere.
The debate surrounding the Prime Minister’s decision has been expressed in online polls, user-generated videos, interviews and through social media. It seems as though some form of debate surrounding climate change is constantly present. That is to say that, if discussion isn’t circulating about the validity behind global warming, it seems to be focused on whether we should pay money for the amount we pollute.
The majority of media outlets that I examined for my blogs were advertisements, used by companies to encourage the audience to take affirmative action against climate change. Organisations such as WWF (World Wildlife Fund) rely primarily on the premise that people will ‘stop climate change’, in order for their work in nurturing the habitat of endangered or threatened wildlife to continue. For this reason, the WWF invested in a campaign to combat the arguable growth of climate change, with a series of hard-hitting pictorial advertisements that rely on audience empathy and sense of humour. This campaign exemplifies one way in which the media are driving messages that stir guilt and anxiety in the reader, in order to communicate their message.
I found this campaign effective, and liked the way it provided me with a new angle to consider. As I tackled this issue with the perspectives of a climate-change sceptic, this was one of the few sources that compelled me to go green.
As well as discovering the fearful and guilt-ridden media releases that portray a world in rapid demise, I found that the media use imagery and scare tactics extremely quickly. To demonstrate my argument, I included in my blog entry “Jumping The Gun!” an image of Time magazine’s front page from 1974 and contrasted it with one from 2006.
Thirty years ago, this publication ran an issue titled “How To Survive The Coming Ice Age”. Conversely, the 2006 issue was plastered boldly with the heading “Special Report: Global Warming. Be Worried. Be Very Worried”.
This contradictory message, mediated by the same source, demonstrates how swiftly fluctuating ideas are eagerly spat out by the media.
Personally, I feel as though the ‘moral panic’ surrounding global warming is dominantly, if not completely, the responsibility of the media. In filtering down from scientific sources and researchers, the issue of global warming has been grasped by the media and thrust into the public eye more than any other.
As I already mentioned, the WWF campaign relies on audience fear as a catalyst for action. This technique is also used in the “Act On Co2” advert, shown in my ‘Worry for the enviro-future’ blog-post. The video finishes with the words of a young girl questioning how the story ends for our planet with, “Does it have a happy ending?” tugging at the heartstrings of the audience. It is again with the use of techniques that force the audience to reflect on their actions regarding climate change, that a self-driven moral panic is instigated. This panic is magnified by the media and creates a more widespread and fearful issue than what was once intended.
Looking into this issue has not necessarily made me more conscious of the issue itself; rather it has opened my eyes to the way in which the media portray issues. Many of the sources I used as references to this issue in my blog feature scare-tactics that evoke what the media regards as an appropriate response from their audience. In many of these cases, that response involves choosing more energy efficient alternatives to run households or companies.
– Orcadia 🙂