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Media and Its Power in Communication and Society Essay


Case One: Super Haiyan Typhoon

General description of the event

Super Haiyan Typhoon is one of the strongest tropical cyclones that have ever been recorded in recent times. The magnitude and duration it took had a devastating effect in parts of South East Asia, especially in the Philippines. According to the reports from meteorologists experts, this typhoon originated from the high seas, south-east of Pohnpei, due to very low pressure in that region. The meteorologist started monitoring the typhoon from November 2nd when it was suspected that it could develop into a serious storm in the high seas. By November 4th, it had become a tropical storm and was given the name Haiyan.

An alert was issued by the meteorological departments, particularly to the coastal towns which were on the path of the storm. After assessing it for three days, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center classified it as a category-5 super typhoon. On November 8th, the cyclone finally hit the lands of the Philippines at a speed of 315 kilometers per hour. There was massive destruction caused by this typhoon, mainly in Samara and Leyte, which received the storm when it was at its maximum speed. Houses were brought down, crops destroyed, many people killed, while others sustained injuries. The effect of this super typhoon on this region was devastating.

The rescue mission was affected by poor communication and difficulty of movement. According to the estimates given by the Red Crescent, about ten thousand people lost their lives, with 2.5 million people being left homeless. Two days after the event, the country was left in dire need of food and shelter as properties were destroyed in the storm. The event was largely covered by both the local and international media stations

The impact of the event on the public

This event had a tremendous negative impact on the public, more so on families that lost their loved ones or sustained injuries during the storm. As mentioned above, over ten thousand people died from the storm. It is estimated that this number could be higher, given the fact that many others could not be traced after the incident. According to the reports given by the Red Crescent, many people in this region sustained serious injuries during the storm that changed their lifestyles completely. They needed urgent medical attention, which was not readily available at that moment, following the immense destruction caused by the storm. Millions of people could also have starved to death, were it not for the timely intervention made by the international community to send food aid to them. The people of Samara and Leyte lost almost everything. People could not go to work for several days because various companies in the region were destroyed completely. However, there was a reprieve when the international community came to their help, both materially and emotionally.

How the media covered the event

Super Haiyan Typhoon was considered one of the strongest cyclones to ever be recorded in recent times. This explains why media was so keen on reporting every detail of the events taking place as soon it was brought to their attention. From the local media in the Philippines to international media such as Aljazeera, Cable Network News, British Broadcasting Corporation, to the social media, the events of this tragic typhoon were followed very keenly.

The attention of the world was turned to this Asian country as these news channels tried to give a status report on the events taking place in the region. Although the print media and radio stations made reports on the developments that were taking place, television stations and social media played a major role in giving a comprehensive report on the activities on the ground. According to the reports given by various humanitarian agencies, some journalists were injured trying to capture live events of the destruction of the wind, mainly the Philippine journalists who arrived at these areas when the storm was still raging. However, this did not dampen their spirits as they made a concerted effort to give first-hand information about the effects of this tragic cyclone. However, it is important to note that most of the media stations came when the storm had already calmed. The attention was, therefore, given to the massive destruction of properties, lost lives, and the humanitarian aid that was needed in the country.

The success of media when covering the event

The success of media can be determined by the effect it had on the affected population in this country. It would be right to state that the media did a good work in bringing the true events that were taking place in this area, especially after the catastrophic storm. It was unfortunate to see people attacking tracks carrying food in order to avert starvation, while others were succumbing to their wounds. The media gave a true picture of the events at this place to the international community. The mass media such as Television and radio stations gave a consistent report of the status of the people, while the social media offered an avenue for discussion. This helped in convincing the international community which help was needed. Indeed this help came from various countries across the world, and the media played a great role in it. Their work was a success.

Evaluation of the relationship between the media coverage and the event

It would be important to evaluate the relationship between the event that took place, and the media coverage within this period when the region was affected. As mentioned above, both local and international media stations thronged the towns that were affected to give a detailed report of the impact of this event. It is necessary to appreciate that most of these media stations are business entities meant to make profits. Their presence in this region would therefore, be interpreted as a way of increasing their profitability. During such catastrophic events, many people would want to watch news, and this means that other business units would want to make advertisements to reach this wide population. It is to the benefit of the media stations. For this reason, they would try to paint as grim picture of these events as possible to attract attention of the public. This was witnessed in some of these reports given by the media stations. Although they tried to paint the true image of the events on the ground, their coverage was somehow blown out of proportion, probably to attract attention of the public.

Case Two: The September 11 al Qaeda Attack

General description of the event

The September 11 al Qaeda attack still remains one of the worst attacks in the United States by a terrorist group in the recent times. Coming at time when the country least expected such an attack, the event led to massive destruction of properties, and loss of lives in the cities that were targeted. It took place on September 11, 2001 when a group of militants associated with al Qaeda hijacked national airlines, and used the planes to conduct the attacks.

The first plane, Boeing 767 that was loaded with about 20,000 gallons of jet fuel, was hijacked at about 8:45 in the morning immediately after taking off. The terrorists guided the plane and crashed it onto the World Trade Center’s northern tower on its 80th floor. After about 18 minutes, the second plane was crashed onto the southern tower of the same building, an event that did not only shake New York City, but also the entire country of the United States.

While the country watched these events in New York with dismay, the third plane sliced into Pentagon military base in Washington, D.C. The country was under attack. The fourth plane did not reach the target because the passengers and crew members attacked the terrorist. The plane crashed in a rural field in Pennsylvania, killing all the people on board. At the World Trade Center, the rescue mission was not easy as the planes continued to burn on the walls.

This affected the strength of the building, and it was inevitable that the World Trade Center would finally come down. The firefighters and police officers who were on the rescue mission were also affected by the intense heat, and the falling debris from the building. Some of these officers died trying to evacuate people from the building in order to save lives. There was heavy media coverage of these events, especially by the local media houses during the initial hours of the attack, before the international media station started thronging the two affected cities. In fact, the second plane that hit the southern tower of the World Trade Center was caught live on camera. About 3000 people died, many were injured, and property worth billions of dollars lost by the attack or events after the attack.

The impact of the event on the public

The September eleventh attack on the United States had a devastating effect on the public, not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world. To the American public, the event meant that the terrorist had finally managed to humble them on their own soil by successfully attacking some of the iconic buildings in the country and killing many people. The country had experienced various disastrous events that caused many lives, but on this particular day, the cause of deaths and destruction was an enemy that the United States had ignored for a very long time. It was a real savage struggle, and the public did not take the matter very lightly. People who lost beloved people, those who were injured, and others who lost their properties were devastated by this event. Fear gripped the entire state as it was not clear when this group would try to make a similar attempt. For some time, people avoided public gatherings and social places that were considered a target of this group. It took some time for normalcy to return to major cities in the United States.

How the media covered the event

During this event, there was an articulate coverage of the activities going on in the affected areas. As mentioned above, the media made it possible for the Americans to watch the second strike on southern tower of World Trade Center in live coverage, as the plane sliced into the building. Although this brought fear among people as many thought that another strike was on the way, journalists did not run away. They continued their live coverage of the events, making sure that even the slightest information regarding the attack was covered. At first, the media associated the first crush of the plane as possible accident, till the second plane hit the second tower 18 minutes after the first one.

Success of the media when covering the event

The media tried to cover the events of this incident in as much details as it was possible. The reports given by some of the government officers tasked with releasing official information on the casualties of the accident indicated that some of the victims of this attack were journalists from major media stations in the country. This means that these journalists risked their lives in order to bring news into the light. Although critics have identified some issues that were considered unethical for journalists and the editors of these media stations, the truth is that it was an extraordinary situation and media stations had to act extraordinarily. For instance, ethics states that television stations are not supposed to show the face of a dead person, especially when the face is severely damaged. However, some channels had disturbing images of people who died painful deaths. However, it is understandable that circumstances were unique, and their work was generally considered a success.

Evaluation of the relationship between the media coverage and the event

Evaluating the relationship between the events that took place, and media coverage, the analysis would take two fronts. Within the first 24 hours of the attack, the media station did a great work, and their reports indicated the true events taking place in Washington, D.C., and in New York. Their motive was to bring news in an articulate and professional manner for the benefit of the state. Perhaps it happened because of the shock and fear that the attack brought them. After this period when the reality of this incident sunk in, media realized that they were business entities that could make good earnings from such events.

They continued with their live coverage, but this time, they introduced advertisements in such live programs. Some of the top private hospitals and insurance companies seized the opportunity to reach the Americans and the world at large. The attack was very relevant for their advertisements, and to the media houses, it was an opportunity to earn more income. It means that they had to continue exaggerating the impact so that more people would be glued to their televisions and radios even when it was clear that the situation had been solved.

The Civil Revolution in Syria

General description of the event

The Syrian revolution has attracted the attention of the media stations, especially from the international community. It all started in 2011 when a section of this country was convinced that the president of the country was supposed to be overthrown. They must have been motivated by the successful revolution in other Arab countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya where the presidents were forced out of power. People were convinced that the power of masses was able to defeat even the most oppressive regimes. The uprising was specifically focused on removing President Assad. The government had expected such eventuality because it acted very swiftly to quell the uprising. The president quickly organized a militia group and armed them to counter such protests. He also marshaled government security forces to quell activities of the dissidents.

What followed was a two-year battle between the rebels and the pro-government forces in various towns of the country. Homs was the worst city that was considered the capital of this revolution. The rebel forces managed to take over the city from the government, and turned it into their stronghold. This turned the city into the center of the battle as government troops made efforts to recapture it. The local media houses were under a pressure to avoid any negative reports about the activities of the government. This left the international media houses as the only source of valid information to the international community.

The impact of the event on the public

The revolution had a massive negative impact on the country, specifically those that acted as strongholds of the rebels. This battle lasted for over two years as the rebels tried to topple the president, while government forces moved to crush the rebellion. In early 2012, the fight was so intense that the revolution finally forced the president out of the office. However, it did not happen. The government forces and the pro-Assad forces gained ground steadily, suppressing the rebellion in many regions except Homs. The battle which took place in Homs led to massive destruction of homes. The government forces bombarded the city, bringing down many buildings that were thought to harbor rebellious group. Many people died in this war, and several sustained serious injuries. The economic growth slowed as the country’s resources were channeled towards the war. Syria is still reeling from the effect of this rebellion, although the country is relatively calm now following the defeat of the rebels.

How the media covered the event

When the revolution started, the government of Syria acted swiftly by issuing a warning to local media houses against participating in the rebellion in any way. Any newscast that was seen as being sympathetic to the rebels would be considered a direct participation of such media houses in the war against the government. Assad made it clear that such acts would not be tolerated by his administration.

This scared the local media, and those who tried to go against the directives were suppressed by government authorities. This left the locals with the social media as the only channel through which they could share and pass mass communication to one another. The problem with the social media was that it lacked professionalism and accuracy. Some of the communications were also misleading. The only valid source of information was the international media that made a deliberate effort to report on the activities taking place in this country. The international media houses, especially the print media and televisions played a major role in letting the world know about the atrocities committed by the government forces. In most of the cases, these events were covered live, as a way of letting the world know the truth about what was happening in Syria.

Success of the media when covering the event

When analyzing the success of the media in the coverage of this event, focus would be given to their specific activities, and how they impacted on the society in terms of bringing back peace. As mentioned above, the activities of the local media stations in Syria may be considered a failure because they did not give an effective report on the atrocities committed by the government. This could be attributed to the crackdown by the government.

However, it is worth noting that some local media houses made some effort to bring the world to terms with the events taking place in the country. The international media houses made a concerted effort to report on the activities that were taking place in volatile cities. For instance, the British Broadcasting Corporation was reporting the live events in this country periodically. Marie Colvin, Times journalist and Remi Ochlik, a French photographer, were killed by government forces trying to cover some of those live events taking place in Syria. When the government developed biological weapons to help it end the rebellion, it was the international media that brought that information to world leaders. It helped to spare lives that would have been destroyed by such weapons.

Evaluation of the relationship between the media coverage and the event

The evaluation of the relationship between media coverage and the events that took place would be analyzed from the angle of how accurate the reports were, and the intent of the involved media stations. When this rebellion erupted in Syria, the world had seen three other revolutions that had successfully forced the regimes out of power. Two of these revolutions took turn of events that many did not expect. Many people did not believe that Hosni Mubarak, a revered president of Egypt, could be ousted by a rebellion that was not backed by the military. The same was the case with Muhammar Gadaffi of Libya who had ruled the country for almost four decades. However, both were toppled by the people. When the rebellion reached Syria, many people thought that he would easily be forced out of power, for he was not comparable to the ousted leaders of Libya and Egypt.

The media must have harbored this notion when moving to this country. This explains why most of the reports by international media houses were pro-rebels. They could have become frustrated, when the war reached the second year with minimal chances that the regime would be toppled. Although the media reports tried to give a clear picture of the activities going on in the country, a keen analysis of their reports show that they were biased against the government. Both the rebels and pro-government forces were committing atrocities against humanities. However, there was a selective reporting where the government was depicted as an enemy of people. The international community, specifically the United States, was almost attacking the government of Syria because of such reports.

Overall Analysis of the Cases

The three cases have confirmed the fact that media is a very powerful tool that may be used to build or destroy a society depending on the angle which it takes. It is a common saying that communication is a very powerful tool that should always be used to bring people together in order to achieve a common goal. The power of communication has always been given to the media. From the above analysis, it is apparent that media plays a pivotal role in the society. The world has become a small global village because of media. It has empowered the society because it is used to highlight the plight of people as a way of soliciting for support whenever it is necessary.

Understanding some of the communication theories may help to bring more understanding into the real power of media, and how this power has been used by different media stations. Aristotle’s Rhetoric Theory of communication talks about the power of communication, especially when one has adequate communication skills. This theory emphasizes the power of communication when one uses charisma and emotional proof talking to the audience. From the above three cases, this was clearly demonstrated by the media reports that were given by various stations. The emotional proof in the Philippine’s typhoon tragedy was clearly evident in the massive destruction and the loss of lives captured by the camera. The same was the case in the United States’ terrorists attack on September 11, 2001, and Syrian revolution of 2011-2013.

Media was keen on capturing the scenes that would evoke emotions of the viewers. With the use of rhetorical words, such media houses can easily sway the minds of the public to share their way of thinking, giving them immense power. For instance, the Philippine’s tragedy was reported with a lot of emotional proofs of flattened cities and mass killings. Using a lot of words may not bring the impact, and the media knows about it. However, when there is a clear image taken of such occurrences, the images would always speak for themselves, and this is what media always do. A lot of support came from all over the world, with countries from various continents giving their donations and support to the affected group. This was a clear show of power of communication, and how it could be beneficial used with good intentions.

A sharp contrast of it would be the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. The same media was used to pass hate speeches towards some tribes, and the result was a mass killing of over one million people. A similar case happened in Germany during the Nazi regime when Adolf Hitler used rhetoric to incite people against the Jews. The result was tragic. The above three cases show that media is a powerful tool in the society that must be used responsibly for the benefit. Based on the Constructivism Theory developed by Jese Delia, media has the power to marshal the community to achieve a common goal using skilled construction of sophisticated messages, but presented in a simple way that can easily be understood by everyone. This is a responsibility that they must always keep.

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IvyPanda. (2020, May 30). Media and Its Power in Communication and Society. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/media-and-its-power-in-communication-and-society/

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"Media and Its Power in Communication and Society." IvyPanda, 30 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/media-and-its-power-in-communication-and-society/.

1. IvyPanda. "Media and Its Power in Communication and Society." May 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/media-and-its-power-in-communication-and-society/.


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IvyPanda. "Media and Its Power in Communication and Society." May 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/media-and-its-power-in-communication-and-society/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Media and Its Power in Communication and Society." May 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/media-and-its-power-in-communication-and-society/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Media and Its Power in Communication and Society'. 30 May.

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