Media as a Medium for Awareness and Change
As most people are aware, mass media can be used as a vehicle for both social change or activism AND for maintaining the status quo.
Media is the Key!
Mass media is any method of communication that reaches large groups of people quickly and effectively, thus many means of communication can be considered “mass media”. Television, radio, print media (magazines, newspapers, journals, pamphlets, flyers, books, letters, etc.), the world wide web, email, chat rooms, advertising, marketing, publicity, photography, documentaries, video, – even theatre, movies, songs, dance, art, storytelling, and so on can all be categorized as media that can be used as a medium for social change. The central criteria is that any of these mediums can be used to get messages out to thousands, even millions of people.
One of the key distinctions of mass media is that it can affect people's perceptions of social norms. The media play a significant role in forming and influencing people's attitudes and behaviour. Media has a central role in mediating information and forming public opinion. The media casts an eye on events that few people directly experience and renders remote happenings observable and meaningful.
In general, common means used by various groups to promote social justice activism includes the use of the media and digital action alerts as well as lobbying and coalition building. Since the advent of the world wide web, many media initiatives include an on-line component, often offering information about selected social justice issues, action kits, and methods for interested individuals to join the initiative and easily send letters to appropriate politicians and decision-makers, as well as share the issue with others. Creative technologies such as Macromedia Flash animations, digital video and audio presentations, and web blogs have been developed by some to provide multi-sensory ways to stimulate interest and support in various social justice campaigns. However, very little of this work has been done to date in nursing.
Open source software (free programs created by ultruistic, creative and collaborative teams dedicated to producing high quality software for the good of humanity) can also be used to provide a virtual environment for project managment, teaching courses, coordinating online meetings, collecting data, producing printed materials, and so on. New communicative and creative technologies have added a plethora of media mediums that can be put to good use by nurses and people at large, to promote activist causes and work together on solutions.
Nurses are intelligent, articulate, and caring individuals who already know how to approach issues from a wide-angle perspective. Their ability to holistically view a situation makes them prime candidates for effective activism. If nurses can learn to capitalize on the potential of mass media, their ability to affect change and solutions will skyrocket.