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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 8: Shielding Risk

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A message from a colleague appeared on my iPhone around noon on Saturday, January 8, 2011: “This is very sad news about the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords at an event in Tucson.” I would soon learn that a gunman firing a semiautomatic Glock 19 pistol with an extended 33 magazine had shot Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords in the head, killed 6 others, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and wounded 13 more. The Congresswoman, a rare Democrat in ultra-conservative Arizona, was staging a “Congress on Your Corner” session at a Tucson Safeway store. She was accustomed to hostilities, having been reelected in spite of venomous opposition and intimidation from those who opposed her support of a controversial health care bill as well as her opposition to Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration legislation. Her opponent, backed by the Tea Party, held a “targeting victory” fund-raiser where contributors were invited to shoot an M-16 with him. Her office had been damaged, and she was worried, at one point telling a reporter that, “I have a Glock 9 millimeter and I’m a pretty good shot.” It is the same kind of gun that sent a bullet through her head. The shooter’s rampage was only stopped after he muffed reloading another 33-round clip, giving someone a chance to hit him with a chair, and others dragged him to the ground. One man had his own concealed 9 millimeter, which he later acknowledged that he almost fired at the wrong person. The horror has been...

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