Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    Religious Education

    Article by Mr Brendan Nicholls

    Religious Education

    I would like to inform you that two of our students have secured an internship at Australian Catholic Magazine during May.

    The two students are Chiara Fankhauser and Abbey Maffescioni, both in Year 10. This is a significant achievement and a wonderful opportunity. Their applications were both excellent and testament to their competence and interest in the ‘media’, Religious Education and English.

    During the internship the girls will be part of a small team who will actually edit the winter edition of Australian Catholics Magazine. We are very excited about this as our Year 7 students will receive a copy of this as part of their Religious Educaiton program. Further, I look forward to hearing of their experience, their sharing to our community and the encouragement their success offers others in the future.

    I would like to conclude by sharing with you text of a piece of work that Chiara used to support her application. I am sure you will agree she is very talented and offers a persuasive and insightful response to the misuse of the media in the modern day.

    I wish both Chiara and Abbey all the best as they enter into this exciting opportunity.

    Brendan Nicholls  Religious Educaiton Coordinator


    Chiara Fankhauser: Language of Persuasion

    “Are we as a nation so starved for entertainment that we need to exploit an entire generation?” (Dunham, 2014).

    Good morning, today, I am arguing that the media focuses on the negative aspects of adolescents and creates representations that often sensationalise and distort issues affecting teenagers. Why? Because bad news sells.

    For the media to sell their information, they will amplify moral panic amongst our society to draw us in. Moral panic is “an instance of public anxiety or alarm in response to a problem regarded as threatening the moral standards of society,” (Oxford, n.d.). The media will often twist stories using textual gaps and silences, and inject thoughts and beliefs into the consumer’s mind.  An example of textual gaps and silences used in the media was when the curfew was introduced to Townsville, we were led to believe the cause of this was based on poor behaviours of youth (adolescents). However, the media failed to mention that the term “youth” was used to describe young adults, as Stockwell noted in a media release 2017, evidence demonstrates this was a political ploy released during an election campaign to try and address crime. False news like this, is often made to support political agendas, as these representations of teenagers can be used to the politician’s advantage. Moral panic is not created by the media; however, they are an amplifier, this results from political driven arguments.  

    The media promotes negative adolescent representations to further their political agendas for their own profit. The media focuses primarily on youth crime, to highlight the opposing politicians lack of toughness regarding crime, giving their favoured politician the chance to highlight and build on this problem, showing their strength. “Hallsworth and young (2005) claim that politicians use any mention of juvenile crime as an opportunity to display their toughness on crime.” This debate will be in the media, leading to more profit as people will have a craving to know more. The media’s strong influence on consumers, influences politicians to act to ensure that societies problems are solved, consumers believe they want this and will continue buying news to assist them when voting. However, why would the media only focus on the negatives, not the positives? Because bad news sells.

    Journalists are under pressure to cover negative stories. The media doesn’t represent reality, as particular new stories are selected over others for coverage. “Sensationalised images of youth predominate in the media and elsewhere, and display bias in the behaviour they report as well as the status of the children they depict. The well-behaved, well-adjusted ‘ordinary’ child may not be newsworthy but this does not explain the undue attention paid to negative messages about youth,” (Hertsmere Young Researchers, 2011). When consumers learn of issues they want to inform themselves further on those issues, they “have a thirst for those stories.” These stories create a ‘snowball’ the media can profit from, as they appeal to the audience’s need for drama. Journalists seek to this not only for profit but to support whatever politician is good for business. Society now has negative connotations surrounding adolescents, today’s youth are characterised by apathy and are said to be darkening our world with an epidemic of misbehaviour. Statistics show, 23% of media mentions were positive, 29% neutral or balanced, and 48% negative, the findings were a slight improvement from previous years. To receive a profit, the media will select to report on negative stories, this benefits not only themselves, but politicians, and our drama craved society.

    By now, it should be clear that the media focuses on the negative aspects of adolescents and creates representations that often sensationalise and distort issues affecting teenagers. The media does this because bad news sells; this is due to using moral panic. Political agendas are an underlying factor that assists in the company’s credibility and therefore its popularity and profit.


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