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PRIMING EFFECTS IN MEDIA DISCOURSE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING: THE NARRATIVE PERSPECTIVE

Authors:
  • Borys Grinchenko Kyiv Metropolitan University

Abstract

The project is an empirical study of priming effects in modern media discourse on human trafficking. The primary interest lies in revealing whether analytical articles intermingled with elements of a narrative, saturated with stylistic devices, contribute to a change of readers’ attitudes and to what extent. The results of the statistical sleuth may have great value for the study of media discourse within the paradigm of cognitive linguistics. KEYWORDS: media discourse; human trafficking; priming; narrative.
PRIMING EFFECTS IN MEDIA DISCOURSE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING:
THE NARRATIVE PERSPECTIVE
The project concentrates on the study of priming effects in modern media discourse on
human trafficking from the narrative perspective. This research is going to be the elaboration
of the previous empirical study (Paliichuk 2007), the primary interest of which has been
responses (Miall, Kuiken 1994) to media differences in treatment of human trafficking.
The public opinion toward this social situation is predetermined by the contours
(Blommaert, Verschueren 1998) that, being filled with verbal means, provide the way and
direction of the verbal conceptualization of the event shown in media texts (Rayner et al.
2001). Priming, especially in its broader definition by Fiske and Taylor (Fiske, Taylor 1991),
addresses the importance of both the mass media agenda and mass media semantic content in
affecting (Rogers 1988) public attitudes.
The concept was introduced by Iyengar and Kinder (Iyengar, Kinder 1987) to explain the
power of the media. If the mass media agenda “primes” readers by giving salience to certain
events, these events are not merely made more salient to the audience. The mass media prime
focuses on specific issues, as for instance human trafficking. This selectivity forces these
issues, not just the event, to the forefront (Rogers 1988) of mass media coverage.
Thus, priming, defined by Fiske and Taylor as the effects of prior context on the
interpretation and retrieval of information (Fiske, Taylor 1991:231), tells us whether
something is good or bad, whether it is communicated effectively (Brewer et al. 2003). By
offering the audience such background for perception, it enhances the effects (Cappella et al.
2001) of the media.
As a preliminary stage of our research, we have evaluated the emotional power of media
texts with the help of the traditional lingua-stylistic analysis and then identified numerous
expressive means and stylistic devices such as metaphor, simile, irony, parcellation, allusion,
antonomasia, parallelism, etc. (Paliichuk 2007). In the process, we have noticed that such
devices are mostly used in media texts which contain the narrative elements. This leads to our
hypothesis that an audience can be primed with particular images and semantics represented
by the narrative elements of media texts on human trafficking situation.
The objective. The previous research showed that the readers were very sensitive to the
emotional perception of the media text, saturated with literary devices. However, the results
proved to be insignificant in terms of influence on the change of the readers’ opinion after
one-time reading of the text containing large number of expressive means and stylistic
devices.
Supposedly, the shaping of public opinion depends on the priming effects employed in
mass media, i.e. the influence of the previous context on the text, which is immediately being
read. Consequently, this has given us an impetus to undertake an enquiry, which is explorative
in nature, aimed at collecting the empirical evidence to justify or disprove the
abovementioned idea. Thus, the objective is to check whether the preliminary reading of the
texts on human trafficking influences upon the change of the readers’ opinion toward the
social situation, highlighted in media discourse and, if so, to what extent.
The hypotheses: H0 the previously read texts do not influence on the change of the
readers’ attitude; H1 – the previously read texts influence on the change of the readers’
attitude to a large extent.
The sample. The participants are 60 humanity students aged between 20-22, divided into
two groups.
The case study. For the survey there will be selected four texts of two types: the factual
media articles without stylistic means and analytical media articles intermingled with
elements of a narrative, abundant in literary devices.
The procedure. The groups are divided according to the sequence of reading of the texts.
The participants will read three texts. Group 1 will first read two factual articles and answer
the questionnaire, and then an analytical article, answering the same questions. Group 2 will
first read two analytical articles and answer the questionnaire, and then a factual article,
answering the same questions. So, the scheme is as follows: group 1 (a a b) and group 2 (b
b a), where a is a factual article and b is an analytical one. After the papers are collected,
the responses will be processed by means of SPSS Programme for Windows. The Descriptive
Statistics, Anova-test and Pearson Correlation test are used to analyse whether there is
dependence between the preliminary reading of the texts and extent of changing the readers’
opinion after the last reading of the text.
Conclusion. If the hypothesis 1 proves, it would be quite reasonable to claim about the
power of priming effects employed in the media texts. Since the empirical research is a part of
the project on the cognitive mechanism underlying the process of shaping public opinion, the
results may be very precious for the study of the human trafficking in media discourse.
References
Blommaert, J. and Verschueren, J. (1998). Debating Diversity: Analysing the Discourse of
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Brewer P. R., Graf J., Willnat L. (2003). Priming or Framing: Media Influence on Attitudes
Toward Foreign Countries. Gazette. 65, 493-508.
Cappella, J.N., Fishbein, M., Hornik, R., Ahern, R.K., & Sayeed, S. (2001). Using Theory to
Select Messages in Antidrug Media Campaigns: Reasoned Action and Media Priming. In
R.E. Rice & C.K. Atkin, (Eds.). Public Communication Campaigns (pp. 214-230).
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Miall, D.S. and Kuiken, D. (1994). Foregrounding, Defamiliarization, and Affect: Response
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Paliichuk E (2007) Human Trafficking and Media: Is Language That Powerful? In S. Zyngier,
A. Chesnokova & V. Viana, (Eds). Acting and Connecting: Cultural Approaches to
Language and Literature (pp.175-189). Munster: LIT Verlag.
Rayner, P., Wall, P. and Kruger, S. (2001). Media Studies: the Essential Introduction.
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Rogers E.M. (1988). Mass Communication. New York: Free Press.
... Readers' reactions were compared on items measuring cognitive, emotive, and attitudinal impact. Another study (Paliichuk 2009) looked at priming effects in modern media discourse on human trafficking and responses to media differences in treatment of human trafficking, showing that readers were very sensitive in their emotional perception of the media text saturated with literary devices. Junior researchers from two different universities (Munich and Rio de Janeiro) together investigated the representation of gender-related disease in German and Brazilian literature (Mäkinen and Lemos 2008). ...
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Using Theory to Select Messages in Antidrug Media Campaigns: Reasoned Action and Media Priming
  • J N Cappella
  • M Fishbein
  • R Hornik
  • R K Ahern
  • S Sayeed
Cappella, J.N., Fishbein, M., Hornik, R., Ahern, R.K., & Sayeed, S. (2001). Using Theory to Select Messages in Antidrug Media Campaigns: Reasoned Action and Media Priming. In R.E. Rice & C.K. Atkin, (Eds.). Public Communication Campaigns (pp. 214-230). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
News that Matters: Agenda Setting and Priming in a Television Age
  • S Iyengar
  • D R Kinder
Iyengar S., Kinder D.R. (1987). News that Matters: Agenda Setting and Priming in a Television Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Acting and Connecting: Cultural Approaches to Language and Literature
  • E Paliichuk
Paliichuk E (2007) Human Trafficking and Media: Is Language That Powerful? In S. Zyngier, A. Chesnokova & V. Viana, (Eds). Acting and Connecting: Cultural Approaches to Language and Literature (pp.175-189). Munster: LIT Verlag.