Media And Its Effects On Society

1775 words - 8 pages

Media and its Effects on Society
Media plays a crucial role in our life nowadays. It serves as a bridge that connects people to the world, leading to a global exchange of information and knowledge. Media also offers platform for people to voice their thoughts on political and social issues, providing room for different perspectives. Unquestionably, media affects our life in nearly every ways. With a turn of a magazine page, a tune on a radio, or a flip of a TV channel, media somewhat plays a part in our life. Different media coverage can influence the audience interpretation as well as affect the information dissemination. Effective media coverage can lead to positive public viewpoint while ...view middle of the document...

It was not until the publication of a study by a British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield that the controversy set off. Wakefield reported a small number of patients who developed autism after their measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination. The media shortly learned about this study and spread the information like a wildfire. Parents of autistic children, believing in Wakefield’s study, formed a group to advocate anti-vaccine movement. In response, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a study to assess all of the products for their mercury content and revealed that the content of ethlylmercury in infant vaccines exceeded the limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency. To put the public at ease, the FDA abruptly decided to remove thimerosal from childhood vaccines and by 2001, thimerosal was eliminated from infant vaccines. In subsequent years, a number of studies reviewed by the Institute of Medicine (IMO) have also showed negative correlation between vaccination and autism. Despite an overwhelming evidence, many parents, influenced by media, still believe that vaccine is responsible for autism. As seen in the vaccine debate, the media sways public viewpoint by broadcasting certain information in certain way.
The power of media influence can be seen through many aspects of the vaccine controversy including the starting point of the debate. In 1998, Andrew Wakefield held a press conference to publicize his hypothesis that the MMR vaccines can induce autism. His study was later published in a prestige medical journal Lancet. The media shortly picked up his claim, launching headlines on newspaper warning parents about childhood vaccination. Through compelling scientific-based information, the media caused public unease and drove parents to refuse to vaccinate their children. As a result, vaccination rate for MMR fell from 92% in 1998 to 80% in 2003 . The low vaccination rate led to measles outbreak in the U.K. There were 56 cases of measles in 1998, the year that Wakefield’s research was published, and 449 cases in 2006 with the first death since 1992. The decline in vaccination rate after Wakefield’s publication clearly reveals the role of media in manipulating public view. The media emphasizing on Wakefield’s hypothesis guides a number of parents to ignore the other side of the story, leading them to completely fall for Wakefield’s claim. Years later, Wakefield was exonerated due to professional misconducts. The discovery on the link of MMR vaccine and autism was found to be a result from contaminated lab equipment, which Wakefield acknowledged. Despite the fact that Wakefield’s study was refuted, parents of autistic children still blame vaccine for the cause of autism. The media propagating Wakefield’s study has led root of anti-vaccine activity set deep in public mind. By disseminating information on Wakefield’s research, the media chooses to present the vaccine controversy in certain way and sways public toward the...

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