We get a daily diet of media coverage from our televisions and radios to our computers and mobile devices.
As much as we rely on popular media to inform us, newspapers headlines, television broadcasts and online blog posts have the power to influence our reactions and perceptions of what we read, watch and hear.
A group of MA students in the Social Justice and Equity Studies program at Brock will examine the power of popular media as one of 12 panel presentations at the April 11 Mapping the New Knowledges Graduate Student Research Conference. More than 90 graduate students are participating in the seventh annual research conference that runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Plaza Building (levels 3 and 4).
The Social Justice and Equity panel will cover a range of social justice topics including animal rights, Afrocentric schools, pimping, and youth-driven NGOs.
“The projects that we are working on are intended to be not only interesting, but also relevant and useful both inside and outside of academia. We are, after all, engaging with popular media’s representation of important issues that are a part of many people’s everyday lives,” says Jade Wallace who will present along with Jennifer Lucking, Lynn DeCaro, Ian Purdy and Mash Modiji, from 2:15 to 4 p.m., in Plaza 410.
Wallace will speak about a recent controversial public awareness campaign by PETA in which the organization drew comparisons between the historic enslavement and oppression of African-Americans and the historic and contemporary exploitation of animals.
“It’s not a historically uncommon comparison, but it ignited a lot of controversy. My presentation looks at the history of the comparison, as well as newspaper coverage of PETA’s campaign, to figure out why people were so riled by the comparison of animals to slaves,” she says.
“I wanted to determine whether public anger was reasoned or just reactionary and whether PETA did in fact act condemnably. What I found was that the newspaper articles tended to sensationalize and failed to provide context for PETA’s campaign, but that PETA also exploited African-Americans and their history, which is not really a useful strategy for an animal rights organization that claims to be interested in the end of all types of oppression.
“As far as my research indicates, PETA’s tactics in this campaign have not really been discussed at an academic level. Given that PETA is the world’s largest animal rights organization, I think it is important to critically evaluate their strategies to see whether they might helpfully or harmfully be adopted by similar organizations.”