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  1. Book Review: Media, Mobilization, and Human Rights: Mediating Suffering – College Media Review
  2. Media, Mobilization, and Human Rights
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  4. Media Mobilization and Human Rights Mediating Suffering

In terms of Somalia, Thomas Keenan asserts that the CNN Effect looked something like this: television pictures — in this case of starving children — brought US troops into Somalia, and television pictures — of dead US soldiers — pulled them out Keenan , Although the concept has subsequently been applied to other conflicts see Bahador it remains most closely associated with —93 Somalia and it has since lost some of its explanatory power. After all, for every Somalia, there was a Rwanda; for every Kosovo, there was a Sarajevo; for every Libya, there was a Syria.

In other words, scholars and activists have discovered that media exposure of human rights atrocities does not necessarily lead the public to pressure governments to act see Robinson , Livingston , and Strobel for critiques of the concept. Still, no one seems prepared to say that media coverage is irrelevant. They are, in that sense, like weapons or words: a condition, but not a sufficient one. A direct causal effect, it turns out, is much too simple. It is, in part, filtered through cultural remembrances of other events.

The cultural remembrances of Vietnam were again surfacing in contemporary bestselling popular literature at precisely the moment when Americans were beginning to doubt the Somalia intervention. Memories of a past conflict, in other words, can become culturally significant and reproduced in a current one.

The deaths of American soldiers in Somalia were mediated by CNN but also by and through popular literature on Vietnam, with all of the painful cultural memories this brought back to life. Kieran argues that popular literature — both the literature on Vietnam and the emerging literature on Somalia — did more than simply compare the two conflicts a trope the media were already employing. In addition, they contributed to the realist critiques of all future humanitarian interventions by explicitly representing Somalia as Vietnam.

A memorial discourse was created that blended the memories of Vietnam with those of Somalia, which then served to legitimize the critiques offered by opponents of humanitarian intervention in general.

Book Review: Media, Mobilization, and Human Rights: Mediating Suffering – College Media Review

In Somalia, media images played into a cultural memory that was inclined to push for withdrawal in the first place; the cultural memory of Vietnam made the images coming out of Somalia ripe for looking like a CNN Effect. Why are some individuals indifferent to mass suffering, turning the page on shocking images in the morning newspaper? Why do people respond emotionally to some images and with a shrug to others? Why do they act on that emotion in some cases and not in others?

At the same time, scholars have tried to theorize why individuals respond differently to information, either images or texts, about gross violations of human rights, and what role the media play in their varied responses. Three of the most common explanations will be examined here: psycho-physical numbing that makes it difficult to care about large-scale, distant suffering; the difficulty of effecting a cosmopolitan citizenry; and compassion fatigue. A brief overview of each of the three explanations is provided below, followed by a summary of the core contribution of the book — how each of the remaining chapters responds to, interacts with, clarifies, and expounds upon some or all of the theories, and, most importantly, how each chapter contributes to a better understanding of the varying responses to media portrayals of human rights violations.

Psychic numbing Psychologist Paul Slovic examines why most people, despite the fact that they are caring and would make a great effort to help an individual in need, appear to be indifferent — indeed numb — when the number of those suffering is much larger. He argues that at a psycho-physical level, people are unable to experience affect — the positive and negative feelings that combine with reasoned analysis to guide judgments, decisions, and actions — for large-scale suffering.

Affect, he says, is the most basic form of feeling — the sense not necessarily conscious that something is good or bad, without which information lacks meaning and cannot be used in judgment ibid. Images are particularly important. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join. Home Books Pop Culture. Save For Later. Create a List. Summary What impact do mass media portrayals of atrocities have on activism?

Read on the Scribd mobile app Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere. Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others Most media consumers eventually get to the point where they turn the page. Mediating suffering How indeed? States, the media, and humanitarian intervention Both states and individuals have responded unevenly to human rights atrocities.

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Media, Mobilization and Human Rights challenges the assumption that exposure to human rights violations in countries far away causes people to respond with activism to end atrocities. Turning a critical eye on existing scholarship, the authors argue that the reality is complex, and that there is nothing What impact do mass media portrayals of atrocities have on activism? Turning a critical eye on existing scholarship, the authors argue that the reality is complex, and that there is nothing inherently positive or negative about exposure to the suffering of others.

In exploring this, the book offers an array of case studies and examines a variety of media forms - from television and radio through to social networking — to present radical new ways of thinking about the intersection of media portrayals of human suffering and activist responses to them. Get A Copy.

Paperback , pages. More Details Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. For the purposes of this book, the most interesting factor is the role of the media see, for example, Soderlund et al. As the concept of humanitarian intervention took root, scholars began looking at the role of the media in state-level policymaking. Scholars have analyzed how photographs and television news footage have impacted public opinion and how this opinion has in turn influenced foreign policy, a concept referred to as the CNN Effect. The Somali famine described earlier made this concept almost a household term.

Operation Restore Hope, a US-led humanitarian initiative between December and October , was the first large-scale post-Cold War humanitarian intervention. It was also the first intervention mediated live. It was this sequence of events — media images captured as a result of twenty-four-hour news coverage leading to public cries for state action first to intervene and later to withdraw , the resulting impact of public opinion on state policies, and a change in policy course — that has come to be known as the CNN Effect.

In terms of Somalia, Thomas Keenan asserts that the CNN Effect looked something like this: television pictures — in this case of starving children — brought US troops into Somalia, and television pictures — of dead US soldiers — pulled them out Keenan , Although the concept has subsequently been applied to other conflicts see Bahador it remains most closely associated with —93 Somalia and it has since lost some of its explanatory power.

After all, for every Somalia, there was a Rwanda; for every Kosovo, there was a Sarajevo; for every Libya, there was a Syria. In other words, scholars and activists have discovered that media exposure of human rights atrocities does not necessarily lead the public to pressure governments to act see Robinson , Livingston , and Strobel for critiques of the concept.

Media, Mobilization, and Human Rights

Still, no one seems prepared to say that media coverage is irrelevant. They are, in that sense, like weapons or words: a condition, but not a sufficient one. A direct causal effect, it turns out, is much too simple.

Media, Mobilization, and Human Rights Mediating Suffering

It is, in part, filtered through cultural remembrances of other events. The cultural remembrances of Vietnam were again surfacing in contemporary bestselling popular literature at precisely the moment when Americans were beginning to doubt the Somalia intervention. Memories of a past conflict, in other words, can become culturally significant and reproduced in a current one. The deaths of American soldiers in Somalia were mediated by CNN but also by and through popular literature on Vietnam, with all of the painful cultural memories this brought back to life. Kieran argues that popular literature — both the literature on Vietnam and the emerging literature on Somalia — did more than simply compare the two conflicts a trope the media were already employing.

In addition, they contributed to the realist critiques of all future humanitarian interventions by explicitly representing Somalia as Vietnam.

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A memorial discourse was created that blended the memories of Vietnam with those of Somalia, which then served to legitimize the critiques offered by opponents of humanitarian intervention in general. In Somalia, media images played into a cultural memory that was inclined to push for withdrawal in the first place; the cultural memory of Vietnam made the images coming out of Somalia ripe for looking like a CNN Effect.

Why are some individuals indifferent to mass suffering, turning the page on shocking images in the morning newspaper? Why do people respond emotionally to some images and with a shrug to others? Why do they act on that emotion in some cases and not in others? At the same time, scholars have tried to theorize why individuals respond differently to information, either images or texts, about gross violations of human rights, and what role the media play in their varied responses. Three of the most common explanations will be examined here: psycho-physical numbing that makes it difficult to care about large-scale, distant suffering; the difficulty of effecting a cosmopolitan citizenry; and compassion fatigue.

A brief overview of each of the three explanations is provided below, followed by a summary of the core contribution of the book — how each of the remaining chapters responds to, interacts with, clarifies, and expounds upon some or all of the theories, and, most importantly, how each chapter contributes to a better understanding of the varying responses to media portrayals of human rights violations.

Psychic numbing Psychologist Paul Slovic examines why most people, despite the fact that they are caring and would make a great effort to help an individual in need, appear to be indifferent — indeed numb — when the number of those suffering is much larger.

Media Mobilization and Human Rights Mediating Suffering

He argues that at a psycho-physical level, people are unable to experience affect — the positive and negative feelings that combine with reasoned analysis to guide judgments, decisions, and actions — for large-scale suffering. Affect, he says, is the most basic form of feeling — the sense not necessarily conscious that something is good or bad, without which information lacks meaning and cannot be used in judgment ibid.

Images are particularly important. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join. Home Books Pop Culture. Save For Later. Create a List. Summary What impact do mass media portrayals of atrocities have on activism?


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Read on the Scribd mobile app Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere. Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others Most media consumers eventually get to the point where they turn the page. Mediating suffering How indeed? States, the media, and humanitarian intervention Both states and individuals have responded unevenly to human rights atrocities. Start your free 30 days.