Global media events have increased rapidly and have vastly altered the way we understand the world. It is therefore appropriate to consider the eventisation of events by the media, in order to further understand how our perception of the world can be shaped due to the depiction shown. This essay will take into account two global ‘media events’, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the 2001 September 11 bombings of the world trade centre, to describe how the mediation of media events can create a global community that allows us to define ourselves and the way we interpret the world around us. I will make a case that the eventisation of global media events allows people from all over the world to further critique the social norms, not only locally, but also on a large scale basis. Throughout the essay I will be referring to the work of Dayan and Katz (1992), Green (2002) Couldry (2003), Katz and Liebes (2007) and Cottle (2008). Media events play a significant role in shaping our understanding of the world
Media events are large scale public events which connect actions across multiple locations within an overall action frame that is focused on a central broadcast event (Couldry 2003, p. 60). These events can be planned, such as the Beijing Olympics, or unplanned such as 9/11 and the death of Michael Jackson. However, they are both “shared experiences, uniting viewers with one another and with their societies” (Dayan and Katz 1992, p.13). Katz and Liebes state that the characteristics for a media event is the live broadcast, the interruption of everyday life, the preplanned and scripted character, the huge audience, the expectation that viewing is obligatory, the reverent, awe-filled character of the narration and the function of the event (2007, p158). It is therefore apparent that media have power not only to insert messages into social networks but to create the networks themselves—to atomize, to integrate, or otherwise design social structure—at least momentarily (Dayan 1992, p.30).
The Olympic games is a preplanned media event that happens once every four years, and is a media spectacle. Dayan & Katz suggest that part of the Olympic game’s mass appeal is attributed to the fact that the spectators are as much a part of the game as the contestants or the referee (1992, p.48). It is able to harmonize tensions, and is in effect a symbolic transposition of political conflict (Dayan and Katz 1992, p.39). This means that the ‘eventisation’ of the media shapes our understanding of the world, in this case with the Olympics, through a unity in which societies are imagined global communities, allowing us to define ourselves and our culture.
Media events further shape our understanding of the world through trauma and tragedy, and this “global community” is reinforced through constant media coverage and commentaries as the event unfolds. It is at this time, that the public seeks assurance and the media is able to mould a “subjunctive orientation to what should or ought to be” (Cottle 2008, p.136). In short, this means media is somewhat responsible for how the public feels towards an issue or issues. The September 11 bombings and the subsequent ‘War on Terror’ attracted global media coverage. Green suggests (2002, p.6) that people didn’t see it as an attack specifically on the United Stated of America, but rather an attack on the West and Western capitalism. It is not surprising that there was so much media coverage due to the high profile of the locations, but it is important to look at the ways this media event has impacted the world, and possibly empowered those behind it. It is well established that the perpetrators would have far less impact without media publicity, and that the media can hardly be expected to resist (Katz and Liebes 2007, p.161). However, without saturated media coverage of the bombings, many people might still be naïve that terrorism is a real issue, and more importantly, how society can put in measures...
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