Week 4: Brief History of Media Effects

Your fourth week’s mission is now available:

  1. Having attended the first panel presentation, perused the handouts and read Chapter 3 of our Media Effects textbook, argue whether a social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast could happen today. Take into account our present media environment (e.g. Internet) and contrast it with events back in 1938. Post this as a comment, while referring to the textbook, readings and/or personal experience.

Deadline: 6th Feb, Tuesday, 10pm

Besides the textbook and the handouts, here are some related materials:

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60 Comments

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60 responses to “Week 4: Brief History of Media Effects

  1. Goh Li Rong

    I feel that a social phenomenon similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast would not happen today. Given the globalization and increased access to information on the internet by people worldwide, such broadcasts can be examined and discussed online before people react and jump to conclusions. People are now more informed on upcoming events and not so reliant on a single media as compared to back in 1938. Plus, the average person on the street has more say in events around the world today. If such a broadcast were to be aired again, I believe a great commotion would be stirred on how the broadcast should have been carried out more efficiently such that people know that it is fictitious.

    When we see something aired on the television, or on the radio, especially if it is out of the ordinary, we now turn to the internet or newspaper to ensure that the news is factual. That is the result of having more mediums of information available to us today.

  2. Hmm, I don’t really think that a similar social phenomena like the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast would happen today. Well, if you are driving in a car and your source of media information is non other than your car radio and your cellphone, yeah, you’d probably be struck by the radio broadcast. With the technology given today, the radio broadcast would be even more exciting and realistic than the one in the past. I am sure that drivers will tend to look up the sky and see if we are really attacked by martians. However, for those people who are at home or at the office, they could easily switch on the TV or browse the internet to see if there’s a similar broadcast or live report about this incident. From there, they could draw conclusions whether this issue is valid. This is so because if it’s something THAT big and life-threatening, there is bound to be a live news broadcast.
    Not ignoring the fact that people might use the television to broadcast the play, yes, people might be affected when they watched it and really think that martians are going to invade us. However, there is a limit to how realistic this broadcast could be. It would never be aired in a professional news channel like “”Channel News Asia” itself, and the settings of scene might not contrast with the country we are in. People these days are not as naive, there are souces of information everywhere as compared to the past. They have a never-dying thirst to uncover the truth so my conclusion is….people might be struck a little at first, but the impact won’t be as big as compared to the past as they have the technology to find out if the issue is really true or serious.

  3. Maria Paul

    I reacted to your question with a little chuckle. This is only because I strongly believe that it is impossible for people today to be influenced by such media content.

    Compared to those back in the 1938, people of today are more wiser and skeptical. I still remember how some people reacted to the article on the internet regarding a World War three in the year 1999. People were mocking the issue and literally laughing at the absurdity of the situation.
    I also recall ridiculing the information myself.

    As it’s obvious, no war took place. In our current environment, information such as this does not go away until commented upon. I do agree that at times forums are set up on the internet to address such issues. Nevertheless, you cannot fail to notice the skepticism in the comments and replies posted. Hence, in my opinion, people usually do not react eagerly during such instances.

  4. No I do not think that the Magic bullet thoery can apply to today’s situation. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation, not easy to manage as you are the first group!  Because we have differing sources of information now, not just the tv and movies. Marketers want to reach out to us and have to advertise in many different ways. In the 1930s, as Jiayi’s group had presented, the War of the worlds was perceived as dangerous media that rendered the audience helpless to absorb everything like a sponge. But in this present century, we are discerning individuals who can reflect and think whether messages are right or wrong. I suppose only children and old people do not care so much. They will be the first to panic if the news come out that war is approaching! Children watch so much action and violence, exposing themselves to more than 20 million commercials. I remember this startling fact from Amanda’s speech. These two groups of people need teachers to help them differentiate the messages put across, but in general the rest of us do not have to. But pornography is hard to resist, my Indonesian friends say that 2-3 year old kids are raped when people watch porn videos. This is an example of an inability to discern reason. The internet is mostly saturated with knowledge, whether it is relevant or not. But I believe the hypodermic needle is not relevant in the 21st century. Basically it is not dangerous, I think it is so convenient to sieve out research from online journals all over the world. Internet is a useful tool and the best communication ever invented!

  5. Sangheetha

    I believe that a social phenomenon similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast will not happen today.

    Compared to the 1930s, we are now more exposed to different types of media. During the “War of the Worlds” incident, most of the citizens have only one source to rely on – the radio. Hence, it made sense why they reacted in panic, especially when they caught the broadcast halfway through. They had no other way to check if what was going on was true.

    Also, radio was considered a reliable source of information. If you heard about an alien invasion on the radio, then most probably it had to be true. Now, however, we have access to more than one form of medium. If we hear a piece of news on the radio, we would most likely check if the news is true by switching on the television or checking the Internet. At the very least, we would call a friend and ask them if they heard about the news. Humans have the tendency of not believing a single piece of information until they have checked it out with other sources. Even during the 1938 incident, those people who had access to television did not panic. This was because they were able to confirm with another source if the radio broadcast was true.

    Therefore, I do not believe that there will be a repeat of the “War of the Worlds” phenomenon. People in today’s society will find out if such an incident is really happening based on the knowledge that they have acquired through education, and the access they have to technology.

  6. I am confident that a repetition of the reaction towards the War of the Worlds broadcast will not take place today. If the Internet right now is what the radio was in the past to the public, it would be difficult apply the magic bullet or hypodermic needle model. The Internet is too multi faceted to release a similar broadcast that would echo throughout every newsgroup, every forum, every blog. Due to the trait of Internet making the world a global village, information would be easy to verify to almost any part of the world.

    Furthemore, the public today is far more sophiscated and cynical to simply take in a news broadcast immediately as a true fact and not question it. Its similar to a fire drill where the siren goes off and most of the time, people will judge the situation first before heading for the exit or writing it off as false alarm.

    In addition, people right now are far more educated and unlike before, almost everybody can easily access the Internet and is not only limited to a commodity owned by the rich.

  7. jiayi

    I feel that the social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast will not happen today.

    If i am living in the past, i may get deceived as there is limited number of media channels (most people used radio as news medium)available that allow me to double check if the news is real or fake.

    However, in the current era, not only one can get news on the usual communication medium such as TV,radio or the newspapers. there is the internet that allows us to get fast information. So, if a broadcast similar to the war of the worlds happen, people will probably check with other sources of medium like the internet.

    I also feel that media literacy rate for most people is quite high in these days.An advertisement that is overly exaggerated or a piece of ridiculous news defintely will not convince some of the people. We have learned in school about how news are being fabricated and know how to differenciate what to believe and what not to believe.

    Therefore, if something similar happened like the war of the worlds, people will most likely to check from other communication medium and not believe in it.

  8. Pam

    Personally, I do not think that a social phenomena that is similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast will happen today. I would think that it is close to impossible for something like that to happen in our lives.

    As we live in a world that is increasingly being exposed to all different types of media outlets and contents, we too learn how to react to the information that is given to us. In an age when we receive news even before it happens, we are able to discuss with others online about the happenings. Thus, we are so called on an “upper hand” when it comes to the receiving and then believing the piece of information that has been put across to us.

    As compared to the people of the past, I feel that the people of today have been moulded by their surroundings to not take anything and everything for granted. We are taught to check out the credibility of the source and its practicality before believing anything. Therefore, I am rather confident that something like the social phenomena of “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast will not happen today.

  9. Jonathan LEE

    Personally, I do not think that the “War of the Worlds” phenomenon would not happen today.

    Firstly, it is because back in the time, people look to the radio as their only source of media. Hence the over-reliance on that. Today, we are bombarded with information from not the radio but other sources as well. For example the televison, newpapers and more recently, the internet. Reliance on sources is therefore widely distributed across the board. Arguebly, we would believe things that have been reported by news channels without even batting an eyelid.

    Secondly, people these days are more educated that in the 1930s. Therefore, people would question news and information if they think that it is “out of the ordinary”.

    Lastly, today, we are handed information visually. unlike those days when we only have audio information. By being able to see what’s going on would make things more… well… REAL.

    Not talking about aliens invading earth, take for example the 9-11 event. Who would believe that someone would actually crash a passenger plane into a building? However, it was made real by the reports by CNN and other major news networks and publications.

    But believing in an alien invasion, well, unless we actually see a flying saucer in the sky and reported by a credible news source, would be actually start believing.

    So, no, I don’t think that the same incident would happen today. Unless it REALLY happens.

  10. I think that it is possible for a similar phenomena like the radio broadcast of ‘War of the World’ to happen. It’s because there are even more communication mediums around now, and people tend to put extra emphasis on news that they want people to believe.

  11. H. G. Wells wrote The War of the Worlds in 1898. In the story, events of a violent and fast paced Martian invasion were described. This novel symbolized the ignorance of society and offers an insight of an invasion of Martians. Similarly, the Internet in the 1990s took over cyberspace and literally conquered the economies around the globe by storm. This invasion of the Internet was breathtaking and the forces at work were both powerful and elusive. Against this backdrop, the Real New Economy arrived since the advent of the Internet, which is a key dynamic of competition, innovation and productivity growth. The role of IT and the Internet has indeed invaded into our lives. They strike an impact on productivity in retail sectors, automation systems, etc, and even the way we study! Therefore, with this invasion of the Internet, there is no doubt that there was an invasion – except this attack is from cyberspace.

  12. People are getting smarter nowadays, especially since most of us are educated and more tech saavy. Thus, whenever there is information thrown at us, we would surely take some time to think about it before coming to any conclusions or decisions.

    With the introduction of the telephone, the television and internet, checking for something is so much easier as compared to the past.

    For instance, there was a major blackout here sometime ago (and I happen to live in one of the affected area); although there was some confusion and shock going on initially, there wasn’t any case of major panic – like in the case of War of the Worlds. Prompt reports were made via the news, people were able to check with the authorities via the internet and telephone..so the public was appeased in no time.

    The media has indeed done us good by making information readily accessible to us, so that the phenomena of the War of the Worlds will not take place ever again.

  13. I feel that a similar incident to that of “War of the Worlds” would probably not happen again. With the leap in technology and a vast number of mass mediums available now, the public can well be more selective in choosing which medium they trust best. This leaves them with the other mass mediums to verify if the information they got is true.

    Moreover, people are now more educated and hence are able to reason out and differentiate the real from the fake. They also tend to see if the information they get is from a credible source or not.

    For instance, speculations about the release date of the official ‘O’ Level results are rampant at the moment. However, students will confirm the piece of information only when it is said over the Singapore news or printed on the Straits Times; the two most credible sources in Singapore.

  14. I think that the social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast is very unlikely to happen today. This event took place when radio was the dominant medium of information dissemination, thus, people took this radio broadcast very seriously. However, in today’s times with the internet, we literally have information at our fingertips. We have also become more cynical and skeptical (due to the presence of many quackmasters out there). If someone tried to trick us with a phony broadcast, we can easily check from various sources if it’s true or not. Thus, the “war of the worlds” phenomena is unlikely to happen to us today.

  15. With such advance technology around us, I do not think that a social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast would happen today. In the past where there was limited communication medium, it would not be surprizing that such a pheonomena could actually happen. And with radio being the dominant medium, people then had absolute trust that it was a reliable news medium. With the different news mediums available now, it would be hard for such an event to take place again. People would turn to the different types of medium to check and double check for news updates. And when they realise that other mediums does not have any reporting on such news, most would probably just ignore the matter. Though some might stay tune to the radio to find out what actually is going on. With the communication mediums available now, people are able to turn to the different sources whenever they need to check on certain news. Thus it is not likely that such a pheonomena would happen today.

  16. There were 2 main reasons for the panic in the “War of the Worlds” in 1930s.

    Firstly, listeners believed whatever that was aired over the radio, since it was the dominant form of communication and news medium at that time.

    Secondly, the panic started when the listeners tuned in mid way through the show and missed its introduction. As a result, when the “news” was broadcasted, they were led to believed that Earth was being invaded.

    However, such a situation is unlikely to occur as there is a wealth of information from both print and electronic media in this day and age. If a piece of news seems to be amiss, we can check its credibility by checking other mediums of mass communication. If only 1 medium reports it, then it is likely wrong information or a hoax.

    The problem living in the 1930s was that the listeners could not turn on the TV or check the Internet for the latest news, since both mediums were not yet invented.

  17. Specifically,if a stunt similar to that of the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast is being pulled off again, we will be not be fooled because technology has allowed us to be more informed about what is really happening around us. With the Internet and other forms of mobile technology, we can get the latest breaking news anywhere and anytime. But that does not mean the radio is a totally obsolete medium to deliver the news. When disaster and emergencies strike, the radio is still one of the most important portable device that we must have.

    At the turn of the millennium, the entire world was thrown into a frenzy because of the fear that the Y2K bug will strike all computer programs and bring us all back to the Dark ages. The media was actively reporting about this phenomenon daily, naming it the “Millennium Bug Problem” and how disastrous it may be.I recalled reading the newspapers that some people were making full precautions like stocking food supplies and building underground bunkers.At the stroke of midnight,the much anticipated Y2k bug eventually blew past us,leaving behind hardly any damages.

    This is one example I can think of how the media hyped up and sensationalized the Y2k bug problem that caused some people to react drastically. That was not too long ago, a similar event can happen again.Who knows? How would you react?

  18. It’s is unlikely that a big social hoo-hah like War of the Worlds will happen again in this age. Those poor fellows in the past had their main source of reliable information coming from the radio. They put their good faith in believing whatever that came out; if not what else could they have believed in? Information was sparse, many couldn’t tell the difference between news and entertainment. They merely acted on instinct. Our era in contrast, has an information overload. We have literally everything- radio, tv, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. We are more discerning, more careful, and much wiser in weighing the credence and truth behind every single thing. People today have adopted some kind of cynicism when it comes to being introduced to anything new. Any information that appears to be mildly absurb would be brushed off. It is perhaps because we know what a large part of our life is affected by media messages.

  19. I feel that the social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast is not likely to happen today. This is because, besides the radio, we too, rely on many other mediums for the latest updates around the world.

    People were taken in by the broadcast and paniced because back then, radio was the main medium used to inform the public about news, current affairs and information.
    Today, we have the internet, television and sophisticated phone systems to aid us in information seeking. We can turn to these mediums to double check and confirm what we hear on radio. Whereas back then, only the rich would have owned televisions and could confirm the news they hear on radio with the news they watched on television.

    Thus, with today’s technology and people’s increased knowledge, it would be surprising to see a social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast taking place today.

  20. William Siew Jing Wen

    I personally feel that similar social phenomenon such as “War of the Worlds” will still happen today, but probably in a much smaller scale. As we became more accessible and reliant to the ‘manifest’ information we have today, we are also more vulnerable to the dissipation of information portrayed. As the limited effects perspective suggests that media make little or no impact on people, as we already set a mindset on what we belief in; nevertheless, if the media is to portray a false phenomenon on the targeted mass audience who would probably believe in and get mislead, similar effects to the “War of the Worlds” will still occur.

    For instance, the evolvement of social-networking though the invention of interactive forums, internet blogging and video sharing during its impetus stage took quite an impact to establish its acceptance to the modern society. In the incident where mySpace.com were highly discredited as a form of unhealthy involvement for young children, the effects of political disillusions and other ‘dissuasive’ reports have resulted many parents to worry for their children’s behavior who are exposed to such site (mySpace.com being the most predominant).

    We may be more accessible about the news and happenings in the current ‘information’ world today, but we may be more delusive to the types of media we highly believe or intensively dependent on. It always takes time for new things to establish its stable platform where its protocols are ‘creditably’ controlled.

  21. William Siew Jing Wen

    Btw, am I the only one who believe that it is possible?? uhmm.. lolx

  22. I don’t think that anything that happened with the radio broadcast of ‘War of the Worlds’ would happen today, because people are now more well-informed. With the advent of the internet and the proliferation of television, it is now much easier for people to obtain information of what is going on around them. I don’t expect misinformation on that scale to ever happen again.

  23. The “War of the Worlds” phenomenon can be attributed to several reasons, one of which was that according to the Princeton research team, most Americans during that era put a lot of trust in radio as a news medium (Sparks, 2006). However, would such a social phenomenon be able to replicate itself in today’s society?

    In my opinion, it is extremely hard for such a social phenomenon to occur today. This is because of the many different types of media and information sources that we now have access to. In 1938, the only major form of information source was from the radio. Today, we have the television, the press, the internet. If something out of the ordinary was disseminated through a certain media, we have the power to verify its authenticity with other sources – something that the people of 1938 lacked. However, if the information is disseminated through a variety of media, then a similar social phenomenon might occur today.

    Just as we are more likely to believe a certain information if we have confirmation of its authenticity from more sources, so too will it be more likely that the events of 1938 would occur again if more media channels disseminate the same particular information. We are after all beings susceptible to social proof – whereby we determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct (Cialdini, 2001).

  24. Siti Nur Aliah

    As much as we like to think that such an incident like the radio broadcast of ‘War of the Worlds’ would not happen in today’s context. Personally, I won’t be surprise if it did. Why? It takes the littlest things to spark hysteria. Seriously.

    We are indeed smart beings. With the advancement of technology, it’s easier to be aware of the surroundings and not be easily swayed. Thing is, we’re still human. Like the famous quote, “To err is human”, we are bound to make mistakes. Usually through assumptions. For instance, we still panic when there’s rumours regarding viruses. Whether if it’s true or not is a different thing.

  25. Well, anything is possible. I think that phenomena could happen. People more and more rely on the media to update their news.
    Taken for example, me. Every morning I will listen to radio. If, by any chance I listen at the wrong moment, I will just believe it.
    But, not all people are the same as me. As you read all their comment, most of them will rely not only to the radio but also internet.
    So, giving out that question, i think the answer will be yes and nope.

  26. Today, we are looking back people in 1938 in the “War of the Worlds” phenomenon and laughing at them: ” You are fools”. But, in my opinion,the truth is “We are all fooled!”
    In 1938, the only available mass media channel – Radio had created such a powerful effect on audiences. People were running from such a so-called ridiculous joke.
    However, nowadays, we are possibly victims of a similar social phenomenon. Why?
    Before the Iraq war, American had been attacked by all means of mass media channels. They are told that Iraq was a threat to U.S security, Iraq had nuclear weapons… And there were people who believed in that lie. To a worse extent, Bush administration had successfully fooled American to vote for him AGAIN. Either it is Iraq or Martians, people had believed in the well prepared lie in a LARGE SCALE.
    In fact, there is no difference between the social phenomenon in 1938 and the Iraq war. If there is, it is just the scale that made the difference.
    We are always fools in the eyes of media in some ways. In order not to be a fool, gain the power, be SOMEBODY!

  27. In my point of view, it is highly unlikely for a social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast to happen today. In the past, they only had the radio to rely on, so how is it not possible for them not to believe it? Well, apart from the radio , we have many other sources such as the internet, newspaper to help us counter-check what information is being conveyed today. We need to know if it is reliable or not. This is because we have adapted to a society whereby one source alone is not credible unless it can be supported by other sources. Therefore, it is rare to think that such a phenomena would happen today.

  28. I highly doubt there would be a repeat of the War of the Worlds incident. Back then, people only panicked because radio was their main, if not only form of communication, so they took it seriously. I only glance at the TV when I walk to the kitchen for a drink or something; I’m mostly looking at my computer nowadays. And often when I see that red/white bar at the bottom of the CNA screen, the one they use for headlines of the latest news/developments, I must admit I can react quite strongly to it, thinking ‘OMG are you serious?!’

    Now I readily believe CNA because it’s proven itself as a good source. And since I don’t go round refreshing on news blogs every 2 minutes and RSSing every major news corporation’s website (yet), my main source of info on my computer, which often beats CNA, are the popup alerts on MSN Messenger from MSNBC. My point is that even though I don’t actively dash through the Web looking for confirmation, setting news alerts is to me a sort of subconscious effort to make sure we’re on the ball with the news. And I do believe that life-changing news like news of war or invasion won’t be taken by the average Singaporean immediately. Even if one isn’t Net-savvy they would probably turn on the radio for confirmation, and for techies, they’d probably have the TV the radio and two computers on waiting for corresponding confirmation. Such is the subconscious cross-reference we have learnt to develop in this age of multi-media.

  29. Naaaah..I don’t think a similar incident would happen again.The reason’s obvious: the public now can check with other forms of mass media to confirm any incident. All of us know that the reason the radio listeners (1938) were in a panic is because they did not have any other channels to confirm if the incident was indeed true or a hoax. I would panic too if I were one of them.
    If it were to happen again now, we can always switch on the TV or log in to the Net to gather information and confirm the incident.

    You know what’s scary?! Because we’re more educated, and tech savvy, we have become more ignorant too! If this incident does happen in the future, I think we would laugh or shrug it off.
    For example, we are always reminded to tune in to the radio whenever we hear the nationwide siren from SCDF.How many of us do that? Really?!Seriously!!This whole siren drill always fall on deaf ears. And what if one day, we hear the siren, and there REALLY is an emergency? Then what?
    I personally feel that no matter how many channels of mass media we now have, at the end of the day, it boils down to us – if we want to take an event seriously, or ignore it.

    By the way Daphne,I think TV was already invented in the 1930s..It was up and running, in black & white. During the ‘War of the World’ scare on the radio, only the rich had TV set/s, thus they could confirm the incident. I dont think those who had TV sets freaked out as badly (if they freaked out at all)!
    Hope the below-mentioned timeline helps:

    Timeline: History of TV
    1930: Charles Jenkins broadcasts the first TV commercial.The BBC begins regular TV transmissions.
    1933: Iowa State University (W9XK) starts broadcasting twice weekly television programs in cooperation with radio station WSUI.
    1936: About 200 hundred television sets are in use world-wide.
    1937: CBS begins its TV development.
    The BBC begins high definition broadcasts in London.
    (http://inventors.about.com/od/tstartinventions/a/Television_Time_3.htm)

    correct me if i’m wrong. -P.E.A.C.E-

  30. I say, “Let’s try it”.

    Let us create a “war of the world” phenomena on the radio and see if my classmates and the rest of Singapore will be fooled. But, let us do it differently this time. Read the story on the day that the Army is doing a mobilization/recall exercise. As mentioned, with the advent of technology, Singaporeans will opt for alternative sources for information. Therefore, when they switch between radio and television channels, they will hear the same news- “The ministry of defense….mobilization exercise…pink panther, rainbow, powerpuff girls, spice girls, backstreetboys… please report to the…immediately.”

    If the events that occur after the radio broadcast conicide with other factors such as the mobilization exercise, ambulance sirens, I am pretty sure Singaporeans would be convinced.

    Oh, please conduct this radio broadcast before April or at least on the 1st of April. This way, if Singaporeans-those who lacked humour and ended up buying the whole NTUC’s stock (“juuuuust in casseee”) start to complain (because they forgot to use the NTUC discount coupons due to the mad rush) and threaten to fire the DJs for causing chaos in Singapore. We can coax them and say it was simply an April’s Fool joke and perharps… more discount.

  31. I dont think the a social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast can happen today.

    The people of the 1930s were have total faith and obedience towards authority. Thus naturally, they chose to trust the radio, the only medium from which they receive news.

    No fictional broadcast will be convincing enough to fool the world today, where skepticism rules over blind faith. We have experienced too many cases of media deception throughout history to be easily taken in by media information again. From Hitler’s use of the Big Lie propaganda technique in World War Two to the very exaggerated claims of the advertisements today, the media has proven its capability in telling convincing lies. To prevent us from naively accepting all media messages, schools constantly remind us to employ critical thinking while processing information. We are taught to approach media information with a skeptical attitude, and to do thorough research on a topic before drawing conclusions and passing judgments.

    Moreover, with the huge advancements in technology, information no longer comes only from one medium. When the reliability of the information provided by one particular medium is questioned, there will certainly be other available mediums of which we can check for answers. Members of the medium audience will be remain in doubt for long.

    Therefore, it is highly unlikey that a social phenomena like similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast would happen today.

  32. Back in 1938, radio was the main medium of news and communication, which is why I feel panicked after hearing the ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast as they thought they were attacked by aliens.

    However, situations today are different from what they were back then. People are exposed to a wide variety of mediums like the internet and television and even mobile phones like Blackberry’s which have constant news updates. With such technology, people do not have to bank on just one medium of information and can cross reference the information when they hear anything extraordinary.

    Therefore, I feel that even though something like ‘War of the Worlds’ might create rumours and lead to excitement, it will not lead to a panic among citizens.

  33. We are surrounded by so many types of media sources today. Thus if a similar radio broadcast like the “War of the Worlds” were to be aired, we will not believe the broadcast as lightly as the people in 1983 did. Most of us will be busy double checking on the web, calling friends with our phones, waiting for the news on the TV and etc.

    In addition, I feel that people have became colder towards our surroundings. A good example to represent my point is a scene from the “Eight-legged Freaks”. There the DJ broadcast that giant spiders are attacking the town. However, none of the listeners believed. So what I am trying to say is that as technology improves, people got more dependent and somehow doubt everything around them.

    Therefore, no, the social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” will not happen.

  34. With so little means of having forms of media in their homes back in the 1930s, it would be too easy to believe anything that the radio broadcasted without having other forms of media to check whatever news that the people get from the radio. Furthermore, since it was their first time getting such a broadcast from the radio, they would be more liable to believe it, since it would be more shocking for them.

    With so many forms of media that we get today, it is very easy for us to check the news that we get. Yes, initially, the would be some people getting panicked after listening to the broadcasts, but it would be quickly diffused after checking it with other media or with other people by handphones or e-mails. Furthermore, the public today is not like in the 1930s. They tend to be less gullible in the information that they get from the media. They also tend to be more selective and sophisticated in what they take from the sea of information that they get bombarded with daily.

  35. The main reason why the “War of the Worlds” incident was so significant during that time was because of the lack of other mediums of information. Back then, the radio was the common medium used for obtaining information, such as news. Television, though already advented by then, would have been an object of luxury and not owned by many.

    On the other hand, in today’s world, there are many mediums of information. The most important of which would be the mobile phone. It is true that the Internet and news channels would be a much better and faster way to obtain information, but nothing can beat the convenience of the mobile phone. No matter where you are, a simple call, or using Wi-Fi or WAP to access the net, would easily clear any doubts in your mind. That is precisely the reason why I believe that the social phenomena of “War of the Worlds” would not happen in today’s society.

    Should one be misguided by information on any medium, be it on the internet, radio, television or mobile phone, a simple check on any other medium would easily clear your worries. Hence, I seriously doubt that a similar phenomenon will happen in the present world.

  36. I personally feel that there MIGHT be a possibility that a similar scenario of “War of the Worlds” in our current world happeneing. However, i do think that it would be of a smaller scale than before.

    I say so because i feel that in our current society, as much as we take in information from the media, we think more critically than people of that year. We usually analyze, filter and ensure that the information we hear or see is true. Something as outrageous as what happened then, i feel would not affect as much now.

    With so many mediums of information to look to for evidence of truth before belief. I sincerely feel that a similr scenario as war of the worlds would unlikely happen as mentioned earlier. A small scale reaction might happen as there still are the few who are less educated and well informed as others.

  37. The ‘War of the World’ phenomena happened in the late 1930s, during a period of time when Europe was on an imminent war path. I feel that the reason why many believed it was due to the fact, that many were already paranoid that invasions could happen at any time. An invasion of Martians would have been no different.

    In a previous communication subject, I learnt that people have the tendency to turn to one another and look for answers during an emergency. To put it short and sweet, ” if one’s neighbour reacted to something in one way, the other would most likely follow suit”. Alas,the Priniciple of Social Proof. I doubt that the people each reacted individually.

    However, as we have read in the text and readings, the broadcasters made the announcement more convincing, by broadcasting it suddenly during a regular listening time slot when music was being aired. This sense of emergency would have made many sit up and take notice, and for those that still did not believe, turn to others for answers.

    I frankly feel that in present times, although we do have threats that may endanger many, people are no longer ruled by the emotions of paranoia. The reason behind this is because society has become too complacent. The belief of ” it would never happen to me” is a societal norm today. An example of this would be for fire drills. Recently, when I was out with my friends at a shopping centre, the fire alarm went off, however no one reacted to it that led me to wonder, what if it was real? I guess the reason behind this was because, society has been put through so many kinds of drills, that people automatically believe that everything is a drill. Heard of the boy who cried wolf?

    Therefore in my opinion, if an episode like the ‘War of the Worlds’ incident was to happen again, I strongly doubt there would be any reactance to it.

  38. I guess it’s safe to say that a social phenomena like “War of the Worlds” is unlikely to happen today.
    There are two main reasons why I believe so.

    1) Besides the wealth and accessibility of information available to anyone with an internet connection today, people are also armed with the convenience of gaining new knowledge with just clicks of the mouse. With the multiple channels of information available, like the Internet, TV, radio, etc, people now have the choice to compare and contrast the info they have on hand instead of just relying on one source.

    2) My second reason is entirely based on personal opinion. I believe people today are more skeptical than in the past. We tend to question and doubt alot more. In the 1930s, people probably tend to believe more about things they read or hear. Perhaps it’s unfair to label them as ignorant or naive, though I feel people today, in general, are more arrogant. Maybe because knowledge is power, and people now feel that they have the power, so they tend to take everything with a pinch of salt.

  39. A social phenomenon similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast would occur today only with the help of all other mass media forms (TV, newspaper, Internet, magazine etc.). However, since it is rather impossible to get all forms of mass media to collaborate and feed us with the exact same message, I feel that such a phenomenon would most likely not happen today. This comes to show that in modern society, we do not only rely on one source of information.

    Let’s look at Radio’s War of the Worlds Broadcast (1938):
    “They’re bombing New Jersey!”
    “How do you know?” Patrolman Morrison inquired.
    “I heard it on the radio,” the voice at the other end of the wire replied.
    (Taken from: http://members.aol.com/jeff1070/wotw.html)

    In comparison, today, we know that not everything we receive from the media is the truth. If we receive information that we are skeptical about, we can turn to other forms of media in search for the truth. Thus, people are slightly less susceptible to the media as compared to the past.

    With the invasion of Internet, it can be safe to say that regular users of it have acquired the skill of researching on any doubts or interests they have. After all, it is as easy as a few clicks of the mouse. As technology and media develops, we must remember that people grow and learn along with it.

  40. What happened during the “War of the World’s” phenomenon was amazing. There were many reasons as to why it was pulled off though. People just did not have the various means to the different mass mediums as we do today. It is definitely harder to pull off a similar situation now simply because we are spoilt for choices when it comes to attaining information from the mass mediums.

    There is a TV series showing in the USA called “Jericho”. It’s about a nuclear disaster that hits and destroys most of America. The town of “Jericho” is left to its own devices without the luxury of electricity, food, mass mediums etc. The people of the town have no choice but to base all their information on whatever is offered to them. One of the episodes showed the people of the town receiving a broadcast on their TV’s with some message from the Chinese. Well apparently, in the broadcast, they claimed that the Chinese were “friends” and allies of the Americans. Though skeptical, most of them chose to believe that it’s true, especially after receiving food and care packages with Chinese propaganda in them. But it may not be true, they may actually be the cause of the disaster and after gaining control of the media and everything else, they can pretty much do anything they deem fit. That is probably the closest we can get to a similar situation as the “War of the World’s” phenomenon.

  41. In the age of multiple media, I believe a social phenomenon similar to the “War of the Worlds” is unlikely to happen today.
    First and foremost, the fact that we have so many more media outlets today, it is easy for us to investigate a story/messages presented in media clips in record time with the help of newspapers, internet etc. other than just relying on radio alone. These additional sources would not only help us to decide whether to debunk the story or whether it is indeed true. Next, even with the best editing of falsified voice clips/tv clips, no such nationwide- tom foolery could capture an audience today. With dynamic advancements in media technologies, expectations of what would constitute to realistic invasion today has become exceedingly tainted by the realism of science fiction and cinematic special effects.

    It is a known fact that what is being put out in the media may not be the truth and as such, it is our responsibility to find out more through other media mediums. The events back in 1938 has taught us not be such gullible people as well. Furthermore, modern electronic amenities today would be able to confound dramatic tricks played in the media.
    In my opinion, the knowledge we have gained has nonethless made us superior and given us the choice of deciding what to believe and what not to, separating facts from fictions. Other forms of media would assist us when we’re skeptical too, considering the media savvy people we are today.

  42. Hahaha! wow, people are really confident of humanity these days eh? 😀 Just by looking at the responses given so far alone already, I can safely say that there is a high chance history might repeat itself. If similar situation were to be re-enacted, the result might still be the same.

    This is not about technology. It’s about human behaviour. Firstly, complacency; the main cause of human’s vulnerability that never fails to trigger panic and fear. Especially down here in Singapore, where people have the tendency to display strong reaction to sensational news. Secondly, All it takes is for one person to believe in what he/she has seen/heard and start running, and everyone else will follow. Yes, social proof. Something we’re all aware of, yet not immune to. It may not necessarily be a radio broadcast, since we’re talking about today’s environment (which I seem to see that many are forgetting, as shown in all those references to how radio is not as practical today, etc. Note also that we’re talking about a SIMILAR social phenomena, which could be about anything else that can generate a similar impact, for example, fake news saying there will be a tsunami hitting the town in an hour’s time or something). It could be done on TV and when people who missed the disclaimer warning see it, they believe. They’ll run away, and they’ll start calling their friends, who’ll in turn believe it “just to be safe”, and then the passing of the baton goes on. The ending would pretty much be the same.

    Disclaimer: just in case my post might sound provocative to anyone, i’m not here to start an argument. This, like all above, is just yet another comment from yet another individual. 😉

  43. Oh another point forgotten to mention. What is the likelihood of people sitting down being cool-headed trying to analyse whether or not the information they have just received is true, when the news sounds like it’s end of the world? For people living in this current new age of terror where evil reigns, where destruction rules the earth, and where things are often out of control, making it hard for most people to predict what’s going to happen next, most probably all will just run for their lives first and then they’ll see what to do next.

  44. Back in those days, people depended on the radio as their only channel to receive news. They have no other outlets. And radio, is a one-way medium. People cannot interact with it and back in those days, it would be unlikely for people to want to call up the station to question and verify. They probably just accept what they are told. But today, we have multiple media channels like the tv and the internet. The internet in particular is an interactive medium, it allows people to debate, question and verify. On top of that, people these days are in a way “sharper”, no longer do they listen and believe blindly, they are now taught to seek evidence and analyze before believing something. Perhaps the works of modern education system.
    Therefore, I doubt something like the “War of the Worlds” woud actually take place in modern day. Media has evolved and so has humans.

  45. A social phenomena, similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast will not happen in today’s world. In 1938, the radio was one of the people’s most important media, thus, they relied on it alot. Similarly, people now rely alot on the news from television and the internet. If any social phenomena where to happen now, people would go online and search on the relavant topics, or even communicate with one another from across the world to find out whether the social phenomena was drastic or not, so as to take the appropriate measures. And being able to go online could update oneself with the latest information on what’s going on around his or her own country and around the world.

  46. Unlike the past where the main medium is radio, today’s media environment includes radio, TV, internet etc. Hence, I DO NOT think that a social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast could happen today. As more people are educated and with the advancement of technology, people are able to analyse situations critically. In addition, people are getting information from many areas. In the case of “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, people could only depend on the radio to get their information. Without visual aids, it is sometimes quite hard to tell whether it is the truth. However, there is now the internet and TV, where actual scenes of what happened will be showed (e.g. Tsunamis and 911). Hence it is easier to know the truth. Also, with several channels of medium, it is easy to compare the news and decide if the what was reported is true.

  47. In my opinion, this kind of phenomena is still happening in this day and age; only maybe in a different scale, and through a different medium.

    For example, there have been many images in the newpspapers and predominantly on the internet, that have been doctored to show sightings of UFOs, the disastrous and gross effects of eating sushi, etc.

    Another recent email that spread in Singapore, advising people here to memorise their POSB/DBS ATM PIN backward for heightened security. The fact that the email was passed on to so many people showed that readers actually believed this. A few weeks later, DBS sent out mass emails to say that it was untrue. Who’s to say which email was true or not. Nowadays, anyone can sign off as the CEO of some major organization, and even fraud its company logo / letterhead.

    Undeniably, doctored images and scam emails do influence people’s beliefs and behaviors. One thing I’ve always lived by: “Don’t believe everything you see in the media”.

  48. I don’t believe that what occured in 1938 with Welles’ “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast could ever occur again simply because with technological advancements, we now have various other media to verify whatever information we receive.

    Of course, the media of information transmission itself plays an important role in determining whether the news is reliable or not. For example, should the BBC radio channel annouce an invasion from Mars, we would more likely be convinced than if it were reported by a popular music station.

    Lastly, and media aside, the individual’s own belief system plays a part in how he would react. One who does not believe in aliens would more likely laugh of any such reports as jokes, while others may take them seriously.

    Drawing from personal experience, during the events of 9/11 I was hard pressed to believe that the images I saw on the television were real. Beforehand, my younger brother had told me that “a plane had crashed into the WTC!” But I brushed him off and claimed that it was probably a movie.

    Only when I saw that the channel broadcasting the graphic scenes was a reliable news channel did I realize that what I saw was real. The newspaper reports the next day further validated the truth of the attacks, as did the personal accounts posted online.

    In conclusion, it is my belief that there are a few steps one can take to avoid repeating the pandemonium of 1938. 1) Verify the information with the help of other sources, 2) Determine whether those sources are reliable, and 3) Use your own common sense and logical thinking.

  49. At first glance, I thought dismissively that this phenomenon would not happen in today’s society. Why? As many others have already commented, it is because the radio was the ONLY form of communication medium at that time. But upon further pondering, a thought came through. We may have a plethora of communication mediums now, but there is a majority of individuals who are dependant on just one—The Internet.

    WILLIAM!!! I AGREE WITH YOU!!!

    I also do think it is possible that the same thing could happen in today’s world, but probably on a smaller scale. People today are more tech-savvy and would seek to verify any news or social problem that happens on the various communication medium. But, if the media is to project a certain false phenomenon on a target audience, it is highly likely for the audience to be fooled.

    What William said is very relevant, and my opinion echoes his. “We may be more accessible about the news and happenings in the current ‘information’ world today, but we may be more delusive to the types of media we highly believe or intensively dependent on.”

  50. I don’t really think that the same phenomena as what was happen in 1938 would happen in this sophisticated-technology era. The reason why people just barely believed in what was told by the “War of The World” program on radio is because they did not have much source to depend on, and by the time it happened, radio was the most influential media (because not everybody owned a TV).

    Nowadays, there are a lot of radio station which drama program on their broadcasting time. So, people might not believe all information which are given in the radio easily. However, as I have mentioned before, technology is now accessible to many people, and people do not depend on only one source of information. Let say, if aliens were really invading the world, then all the TV stations and internet would have told them as the premiere news. People can always check the information through other source.

    So, the 1938 phenomena was caused by the lack of accessible information source by people. That’s it. Nothing more. 🙂

  51. Mihiri Salpitikorala

    At the time when “War of the Worlds” was being aired, media and the impact it had on society was different from today. As the Hypodermic needle theory says, the media had a direct effect on the passive audience. The people were so influenced by it because at that time they did not have any other means of getting information about current events and because the media was highly reputed for bringing the public news about the happenings of World War II.
    Today, media is still capable of cooking up a storm. Maybe not in the context of a radio program like “War of the Worlds” but perhaps in a more political and economic context. The chances of people actually panicking can be lower than the 1940’s but people can nevertheless be misled. For example, recently the BBC reported a very biased article (against the government of Sri Lanka) about the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. This resulted in many anti- government comments by people all over the world. The government and the BBC were at loggerheads and ultimately the BBC had to rephrase their article. However, this did not change the peoples’ attitudes towards the government. The people who had already read that article were influenced by the report and it was hard to change their mindsets.
    Technology and its development today, has helped us differentiate between fact and fiction. We are now more educated in the field of picking and choosing what the media brings to us. The Internet and the different services brought to us by it, help us verify media information (weblogs- citizen journalism).
    While I believe that the media today would not be able to create chaos like in the past with “War of the Worlds”, I believe that it can mislead people and significantly influence the outlooks of the masses with the information they disseminate.

  52. Ruzaidah Binte Md. Rasid

    I would not denounce the fact that media effects are always as controversial and scintillating as the “War of the Worlds”. Neither could I deny the fact that such a phenomena might happen again today – perhaps at a different scale altogether.

    Presently, the media environment is much more robust as compared to the early 1900s, but it does not mean that information available now are more accurate and truthful. With diffused variety of medium, information could still be dissipated in repeated, similar modes (through agenda-setting of newsmakers) causing mass audience to believe in its ‘seeming actuality’ – as highlighted examples from some of us: the Y2K bug and the Iraq War. Ultimately, we could still be misled and consequently create mass hysteria ourselves, should such uncertainty (especially the foretelling ‘Doomsday’ sorts) were to happen.

    Furthermore, constant portrayals of stereotypes could reinforce one’s beliefs in the actuality despite awareness because media provides convenient shortcuts to our psyche of behaviours. So I strongly stand on the side that such an occurrance could replicate itself, even at this period in time.

  53. I don’t think that sort of phenomenon will happen in the present society where people are able to gain access to different sources of information to verify the claim that they see or hear about. As compare to the past where people only have access to radio broadcast and nothing additional, it was hard for them to compare and verify the news.
    For example; if there was a news about someone spotting an UFO cruising along Orchard Road in broad daylight, people who received the information would go online and search for creadible sources such as the local online newspaper to verify it, watch the news or listen to the radio for news updates. Therefore, I think it impossible for such thing to happen again in the future. Another thing to note is that we have to verify the information that we receive against several sources before drawing any conclusion.

  54. Siti Hamimah Aminuddin

    A social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast in today’s world? What a tough one especially when you’re talking about The Internet too.

    Let me put it this way -I know some instructors who would rather not encourage their students to cite text off the Web because they do not believe that everything we can find online is reliable or credible. This is to say information can be altered or, worse, fabricated. If there are still some in the world who think as these instructors, then a social phenomena like the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast will not happen.

    In this day and age we’re spoiled for choice -we have television, radio, the newspapers and the Web to get our news. On the other hand, there are people who rely solely on the Internet for news.

    I recall the incident about how a major newspaper published a fraudulent picture, how the online community spotted the fraud right away and had it reported. I am certain that other media outlets commit such offences too or we wouldn’t have media watchdogs to begin with. This is the discerning public of today. No magic bullet theory or hypodermic needle theory is going to work on this lot.

    But then accidents do happen and a phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast may just happen one fine day. I think now, people who use different avenues to get their news will react differently to the same content. Just like how it was said different people reacted differently to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast all those years ago.

  55. From my point of view, a phenomenon such as “War of the Worlds” by the radio broadcast is not prevalent today. This is because in this modern society, the masses are much more educated thus allowing them to become good critics about any issues that have been portrayed. People now do not merely get and absorbed facts from one source but instead many sources and from there, they will try to make their own stand about the issues. We are no longer a sponge that just absorbed anything or everything that has been told to us. As media and technology develops, people too are not left behind as they have become more rationale and logical in their thinking and perception of the media effects.

  56. A similar phenomenon like the one the radio broadcast of the “War of the Worlds” is unlikely to happen again. Presently, people have more than one source of medium to rely upon. If such a play was enacted over radio today, people would be able to use the Internet or the television to verify the details. In addition, in 1938 the one million people who created a mass hysteria were those who were lacking in “critical ability…self-confidence and emotional security”(textbook, pg 51).

    In page 233 of the textbook, McLuhan’s idea of the situation in a classroom before and after the mid-1900s is discussed. Initially, the amount of information available was higher inside the classroom than outside. However, today the tables have turned with the advent of the electronic media. The amount of information outside the classroom is higher than inside the classroom. As a result, it is safe to assume that the average person now is more informed than in 1938.

  57. Dalina Daud

    I agree with most of the guys that it is unlikely such a phenomenon will happen again. Audience today are more skeptical and critical. With the prevalence of media, the society today is well-informed. Unlike the people back in 1938 who were naive and gullible, we tend to question news like alien invading earth and such. Furthermore, back then they rely heavily on radio, tv and print media. We on the other hand have access to other types of medium and so we are able to compare and analyse the different information.

    However that does not mean we do not believe entirely what the media says. Sometimes shorcut thinking forces us to believe and be influenced by the media. Also, news that are sensationalised can sound very convincing. So i think it all boils down to how listeners or audience intepret and react to the piece of information given.

  58. The War of the Worlds radio broadcast can be characterised in several ways. For the sake of simplicity though, I would like to highlight one characteristic in particular; it unintentionally caused panic and misinformation. So when we ask if a social phenomenon like the War of the Worlds radio broadcast could happen again, we need to analyse if the present conditions are favourable.

    The sources of information that were around in 1938, pale in comparison to what we have today. While radio and the print media may have had their golden years during those times, today’s media landscape provides people with unprecedented avenues through which information can be acquired and interpreted. The Internet alone already provides for constant updating of information and the presence of countless agencies.

    I believe that it is highly unlikely that an event like the War of the Worlds radio broadcast could occur again. I base this conclusion on a single premise; that today’s media landscape provides people for numerous ways in which they could seek information and clarification. Radio, television, print and the Internet combine to provide us with a comprehensive safety net against such an occurrence.

    Beyond the media landscape, technological advances also add to the safety net. Mobile phones with cameras allow for actual footage or images of events, and software like Skype now makes communicating with someone on the other side of the world efficient and reliable.

  59. The phenomenon of mass hysteria created by The War of The Worlds broadcast is unlikely to happen again in this day and age of information. Firstly, people today are more educated than they were in 1938. Even in school, we are taught not to mindlessly believe every piece of information thrown at us. With the advent of the Internet which promotes the free exchange of information, we are able to seek alternative points of view and check the credibility of information sources. The media is no longer restricted to a one-way communication tool as it was in the past, as the Hypodermic Needle Theory suggests.

    Of course, now that we have so many different versions of events available online, confusion may ensue and at the end of the day an individual ultimately has to decide which is fact and which is fiction. Given that, I also think that effects similar to the one brought by the War of the Worlds broadcast could still occur, although on a smaller scale, in poor areas of lesser developed countries where information may still be restricted to the local news service through one-way communication media like the radio and TV.

  60. Tharavathi Sithi

    Many of us have become rich today, information rich that is. With the presence of internet, it has become easy to get information and to check the accuracy of that information with billions of people all around the world. For one, the very instant that I saw the very first footage of the September 11 incident on the television, I was in absolute disbelief! The very first thing I did was to open up several different news websites to check if this really was happening. And true enough it was and there were live updates on the incident while I was reading the news. I also was able to chat with some Americans at that time to check with them as well.Not only did I turn to the internet, because we had cable, I tuned into different news channels to check the information as well.
    So, the answer is obvious. No I do not believe that a social phenomena similar to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast could happen today. Back in those days, while the radio was easy accessible to people, the television was not. Only the rich had television and could turn to that medium to check if such a thing was indeed happening.However, that was the only current and reliable, a source of information people could turn to. Because of the lack of resources, many people of course did believe that the alien invasion was really happening. Today, people have become smarter and they are very resourceful.They know how to check the accuracy of an information before reacting to it!Hence the social phenomenon of the “War of the Worlds” broadcast is indeed history that will not and should not repeat itself.

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