Posted by: alansylvestre | October 14, 2014

The relationship between social subsystems and media coverage

In chapter four of Mediating the Message in the 21st Century, Shoemaker and Reese write that “communication connects the ideological subsystem to the cultural subsystem by transmitting familiar cultural themes that resonate with audiences.” (Pg. 69)

As a practitioner of media, I find myself constantly having conversations with my editors about this very subject. When I’m pitching stories, my editors constantly ask me what message is the story trying to convey, and in what manner.

With a vast array of cultural subsystems emerging, there is no one answer about how media should cover cultural events because of the amount of extraneous influence that emerge from other subsystems. Take, for example, the coverage of the events that unfolded in Ferguson. The media did not just look at the social implications of the police shooting a young man, but also focused on political and economic factors that contributed to this situation. The Economist took the story to another level an showed how that event indicated a flaw in the Obama Administration.

Should the media take a more narrowly tailored approach when covering events like these at the risk of losing some audience members, or should they continue to cover every angle of the story to appeal to all audiences? How important is one subsystem, compared to another subsystem when covering events of this stature?

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