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War of the Worlds to Social Media

Mediated Communication in Times of Crisis

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Edited By Joy Elizabeth Hayes, Kathleen Battles and Wendy Hilton-Morrow

Seventy-five years after the infamous broadcast, does War of the Worlds still matter? This book answers with a resounding yes! Contributors revisit the broadcast event in order to reconsider its place as a milestone in media history, and to explore its role as a formative event for understanding citizens’ media use in times of crisis. Uniquely focused on the continuities between radio’s «new» media moment and our contemporary era of social media, the collection takes War of the Worlds as a starting point for investigating key issues in twenty-first-century communication, including: the problem of misrepresentation in mediated communication; the importance of social context for interpreting communication; and the dynamic role of listeners, viewers and users in talking back to media producers and institutions. By examining the «crisis» moment of the original broadcast in its international, academic, technological, industrial, and historical context, as well as the role of contemporary new media in ongoing «crisis» events, this volume demonstrates the broad, historical link between new media and crisis over the course of a century.

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Introduction

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♒ 2 the dislocations of rapid technological change, economic and political instability, and a general sense of impending crisis. In terms of media, the play’s brief, simulated radio news bulletins perfectly fit Twitter’s technically clipped 140 character posts. Both broadcasting and Twitter were “new” media at the time of these events, and both provided in- stantaneous, real-time communication in a time of crisis. Like radio during its “Golden Age,” today’s social media are shot- through and complexly intertwined with a sense of crisis. The 75th anniversary of the War of the Worlds broadcast encourages us to look both backward and forward: to re-examine the broadcast, and to con- sider how it continues to speak to our contemporary moment of me- dia change and crisis. War of the Worlds to Social Media: Mediated Communication in Times of Crisis takes the notorious broadcast as a starting point to investigate continuities and discontinuities between old and new media and their use by citizens and institutions in times of crisis. The broadcast event deserves attention in its own right not only as a milestone in media history, but also because it highlights a number of issues that remain important in 21st century communica- tion practices: the problem of misrepresentation in mediated commu- nication; the importance of social context for interpreting communi- cation; and the dynamic role of listeners, viewers and users in talking back to media producers and institutions. At the same time, the dis- courses swirling around our current media age allow us to...

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