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Media Edge

Media Logic and Social Reality

David L. Altheide

This book challenges social science to address the most important social change since the industrial revolution: the mediated communication order. More of our everyday lives and social institutions reflect the compelling media logic that resonates through conversation, interaction, marketing, as well as social programs, issues and foreign policy. We are beyond the time when people take into account media matters; rather, media matters are now incorporated as a kind of social form in routine and extraordinary activities. This thesis was first laid out in ‘Media Logic’, co-authored with Robert P. Snow in 1979.
Thirty-five years on, Altheide discusses his recent thinking about how media logic and mediation is a basic element in constructing social reality.
From the internet to the NSA, he shows how media logic has transformed audiences into personal networks guided by social media. He argues that we have reached the media edge as social media have all but eviscerated the audience as a significant factor in the communication equation; mediated communication is increasingly about media performances and individual selection to promote identity.
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Chapter 6: Terrorism and the National Security University

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We have met the enemy and it is us.


In the May 2010 (vol. 13, no. 4) issue of ASU Magazine, a glossy page production for the alumni, an advertisement for the CIA appeared (p. 7), inviting applicants to be part of the “national clandestine service,” with a picture of the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad—the one with ropes attached, and that was brought down by US soldiers, and was later found to be a contrived event staged for the photo op—there is the caption; “Americans watch about an hour of news daily. Join the CIA. Live it 24/7.”

The small print included, “Be part of history in the making as a National Clandestine Service Officer. This is no ordinary assignment. It is a mission of importance. It is how you make a difference for our nation.” Applicants are told that they must be U.S. citizens, will have to complete a medical examination and security procedures, “including a polygraph interview. EOE.” Under the CIA insignia: “The Work of a Nation. The Center of Intelligence.”

Our mediated world reflects the content as well as the media logic for defining, selecting, and presenting information and promoting significant symbolic meanings. We have seen how the discourse of fear contributed to the politics ← 101 | 102 → of fear in numerous instances, especially the images and countless reminders about fear, crime, terrorism, and national security. The basic model of an ecology of...

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