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Media and the unexpected: being an agent and a subject in contexts of crisis

Open Panel

Abstract

Media play a major role in creating the perceptions and views of the “other”. Specifically, the audio-visual medium has a degree of recognition, identification, credibility and comprehensibility greater than that of any other such medium. The information which is passed on through images and narratives on TV, creates “schemes” to the people of what is happening. It helps them defining the parameters of any given situation, to identify the “heroes” and the “culprits” and to develop ideas of how to deal with the existing or emerging situation. This duality of media, the fact of being both an agent and subject is a point to be taken into account. In contexts of crisis, where society at large is facing changes, media processes remain: attention is moved from a variety of topics to mainly one, but its way of behaving stays almost the same. Nevertheless, what is uncontested in ordinary times generates tensions in times of crisis. Its speed, narratives and capacity of influence attitudes are seen as threats to the achievement of different political goals. The paper will analyze the role of media in being both an agent and a subject and its implications in contexts of crisis. Comparing different situations (economic crisis, preparing for war, people demonstrations against their governments and conflict situations) the author will arise attention to the impact of media routine in any context.