From the media theory perspective
This article will seem like an outlier from other works I have read about Russia-Ukraine invasion. But before I proceed, I must state unequivocally that I am against the assault and atrocities against Ukrainians. I believe that there are sounder diplomatic measures for intergovernmental negotiations on geopolitical matters without risking the lives of the polity.
In fact, in my opinion, it is the height of human right violation that the lives of citizens of a country should be at the mercy of governments faulty decisions.
My sincere prayers are with the Ukrainians at this really critical time.
Now to the topic,
Theories are simply scientifically proven concepts or ideas that help us describe or predict human behavior or how society relates with one another. As I read through articles, listen to conversations about this recent but rather unfortunate cum historical development in Ukraine, I see how some postulated media theories play out which I will discuss briefly.
Spiral of Silence Theory
This theory makes an attempt to explain how public opinion is formed. It simply explains how individuals tend to remain reticent when they feel that their views or opinion is in the minority to avoid being socially isolated.
So, the closer individuals perceive their opinion to be the prevailing view of the public, their desire is burgeoned to share it in the public sphere.
It is not advisable to create a kind of ‘binary or multi-dimensional’ situation about the war, still I believe that there is a form of schism about this historic happening, in fact I have read diverse stances on the war, but it seems a side of the spectrum is prevailing particularly because of the media’s depiction.
Don’t you think some people might be supportive of the war, but might not be able to air their views to avoid being lambasted within their social circle?
This theory posits that the media determines what issues are important and should be discussed in society. They filter diverse news contents and determine which should be made on the agenda of discussion in the society.
The news about the invasion dislodged other news agenda and discussions in the past few weeks or months.
Do you agree?
In fact, in one of the television stations in my country Nigeria, there is a separate program entirely on the war that is run at a particular time of the day. The old, young, literate, illiterate are aware that there’s something going on somewhere in Europe.
Clergies talk about it in their sermons, websites put a word about it on their homepage; it’s a topical issue in the academia, political space, amongst the economists and the list goes on.
So the media says, Russia- Ukraine invasion is the topic that should be talked about for now, but in a few days or weeks from now, I believe that another story (which I don’t know either) will take the center stage whether the war is over or not.
Uses and Gratifications Theory
This theory tries to explain what individuals use the media for, why they use it, and how they use it to gratify their needs. In order words, individuals select a particular media that soothes their views.
In the context of the war, individuals (including me) have chosen a particular media channel that is in tandem with their conceived belief or opinion about the war.
We subscribe to that newsletter, YouTube page, follow that individual on our social media handles because our thoughts are not in conflict with theirs about the war. For instance, I watch the BBC because I admire their approach to the analysis of the war; you might prefer CNN or Aljazeera for a reason best know to you! That’s what this theory is trying to explain.
George Gerbner, Professor George Gerbner, one of the foremost communication theories postulated this theory. The theory asserts that television has a powerful effect on viewers and it is responsible for shaping their social reality and eventually culture, although this effect could be gradual and subtle.
Although the crux of this theory was centered on television which was the most popular medium at the time, I believe social media can fit into the role.
Note that I am not underestimating the magnitude of Russia’s invasion and its effect on the world politically, socially and economically, I have only discovered that constant exposure to the news about the crisis and other related events around the world has sought of shaped our perception of the world and life itself.
It has created some sought of ‘fear’ in many that the world is no long a safe place and in fact world leaders comments and handling of the war as well as the media depiction of the situation also can also be held responsible.
While I am not writing this to scare anyone, I will conclude with these quotes
Plato-“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
John Steinbeck- “All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”
Do you agree?