Saturday, March 11, 2006

spring break

We know that interest groups attempt to frame the news and the news media generally play along. This is a common topic in journals about the news, other academic journals, and communication courses. Remember when gun control was a hot issue and purveyors adjusted their rhetoric to achieve maximum impact in framing treatment of the issue? We see this jostling all the time.

Kieran Healy writing in Crooked Timber looks at spring break through this aperture.
Credible Sources


This article in the Times is about the dangers to children, real and imagined, of social networking websites. The usual ping-pong back-and-forth about MySpace, etc. I liked the tag-line, though: “Parents fear Web predators. Some Internet experts, and some kids, call that fear overblown.” ... Compare these reassurances to their near-perfect complement, stern warnings from the AMA to 19-year-olds about to head off to Rocky Point for the week: “The American Medical Association is warning girls not to go wild during spring break after conducting a survey in which 83 percent of college women and graduates admit spring break involves heavier-than- usual drinking, and 74 percent saying the break results in increased sexual activity.” You don’t say! Both these messages will be put through the well-developed Bayesian filter located in the brains of their intended audience—parents in the first case, spring-breakers in the second—where the probability of the information being worthwhile is weighted by its source and then immediately disregarded.

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