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A GLOBAL VILLAGE OF POSTER CHILDREN: THE BODY AS SYMBOL IN CONTEMPORARY NEWS MEDIA

by Boroff, Alexander

Abstract (Summary)
Hai Ren, Advisor This thesis examines the role of the news media in turning certain persons into sites of larger social, cultural, and/or political meaning. The purpose of any news outlet, be it a print, television, or web-based production, is to produce information regardless of whether or not anything of genuine importance has occurred. Also, as Neil Postman has pointed out, the news must also entertain in order to attract an audience. This being the case, when a person such as Michael Fay or Terri Schiavo enters news discourse, production requirements necessitate that this person be examined from multiple angles, discussed and debated so as to make copy for the news outlet. In turn, this allows that person to take on symbolic meaning. For example, when Michael Fay became the focus of news media in spring of 1994 after being sentenced to receive a caning for vandalizing cars in Singapore, there was very little fresh information to report upon throughout the progression of his case. Hence, reporters focused upon the debates over corporal punishment surrounding Michael Fay, which in turn made Fay himself become a living embodiment of this conflict. Multiple persons like Fay permeate news discourse. Baby Jessica, Lorena Bobbitt, Terri Schiavo—these are just a few of the names that have been subjects of conversation in the mass media over the years. Ultimately, this thesis will conclude that the news media maintains popular appeal by their focus on such individuals—those whose bodies can be made to symbolize contemporary, culturally relevant concerns.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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