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Discursive realities: Global media and September 11

Lee, T.ORCID: 0000-0003-3333-0076 and Giles, C. (2004) Discursive realities: Global media and September 11. Australian Journal of Communication, 31 (1). pp. 37-55.

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One key issue in the study of mass communication culture is the way in which the audience is 'paedocratized' (Hartley, 1992) and continually (re)constructed. But as Ang's (1996) analysis of students' responses to the 1991 Gulf War coverage shows, dominant discourse can produce alternative discourses, often sparking a 'quiet revolt' against the purveyance of global media. Inspired by Ang, this paper is the result of research undertaken with 70 Mass Communication undergraduate students at Murdoch University on September 11, 2002 (first anniversary of the terror attacks on America). Students were asked to revisit their reactions following the collapse of the twin towers, to consider whether the coverage was 'media overkill' and to express their thoughts one year on. As students were already well-equipped with critical knowledge of the reach and power of global media by the time the survey was carried out, most responses reinforce the discursive struggles encountered by students trying to make sense of a 'global' event in a local context. Like Ang, many students were found to be resistant to a globalised media that draws them and holds them, as audiences, in complicity. This paper thus provides useful and important insights into how resistance and refusal become manifest in expressions of disinterest in and resentment of global media.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: Queensland Institute of Technology. Communication Institute
Copyright: 2004 The Author
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