Monday, March 28, 2011

"Don't Panic"

"Don't Panic" is excellent advice. What I have noticed about the recent trend in "News" is the emotional appeal that it is creating to sell itself. Like advertising, news networks seem to pray on the emotional aspects of stories; and have focused particularly on the personal aspect, often answering the question: what does this mean to you? This has become increasingly apparent as we focus on the price of oil and how it is affecting our economy, which has been the final focus of every report I have heard about the Libya revolution and Japan. Worse still, much of the focus on the Nuclear Disaster has been on the possibility of nuclear fallout reaching the U.S., and even trace amounts of radiation exposure makes big news. Even though many of these reports are coupled with statements about minimal the exposure actually is, people are still worried.

My point is that the news appears to be falling in to the same type of personal emotional appeals that advertising is being criticized for. This is probably a much bigger problem, because the news is usually presented as a much more trustworthy source of information than advertising, and the most emotional high pieces of the story, such as radioactive dust, usually far overshadows the details, like the minimal quantities. The headline gets lots of attention, and even though a close reading of the articles says "Don't Panic," the headline says "Panic." Headlines like "Warming to Cause Catastrophic Rise in Sea Level?" should also advise people to make sure they know where their towel is, such a simple statement is sure to be ignored by the masses who have already panicked about the sea level.

If there is any doubt, how many people immediately noticed the link? Isn' this a type of emotional imagery, where I try to gain readership by using something bold that stands out and causes an emotional concern? The headline might not be a new construct, isn't this almost, but not entirely, unlike Jhally's emotionally charged images?

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