Zhaba Zhournal
Wednesday, August 06, 2003 
The media and the message 
Well, another woman has murdered her child, a tragic event with a great deal of social and psychological significance that I don't particularly feel like talking about; a) it's grim, and b) I don't think I have the time or mental energy to treat it fully. What I want to mention is the media shorthand for these kinds of things.

Since it was in the Philly area—the woman was a Villanova professor—it was on the front cover of the Daily News. Specifically, a full-page color picture of a teddy bear was on the cover of the Daily News. And I bet if I watch the local news tonight, the picture in the upper right-hand corner of the screen will also be a teddy bear.

It's one of the default child-tragedy media images: teddy bear=dead child, empty swing=missing child. I'm not sure if they're just visual clichés, or if they've moved to the level of cultural signifiers.

There are probably plenty of others that I'd notice if I started paying attention to the local news: fire helmet=dead/injured firefighter, police badge=dead/injured police officer, corner picture half-full of flames=major fire, corner picture entirely filled with flames=fatal fire.

If I was still studying film and media arts, I could write a heck of a paper on it. But I'm not. So I'll just keep it in mind and maybe post about it occasionally.

[ at 11:52 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yes, that's me.


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