Mass media play an important role in interaction within the modern society. Media give coverage of local and world's events by certain means of communication with the audience. The consumers of the information are the people who read various print editions, watch TV or use the Internet to follow the latest news. Both sides are engaged in the process of mutual interaction; however, the power of influence is on the side of news makers. Mass media determine the social course of actions, its mood and common emotions. At the same time, the economy, ideology or military forces can make an impact on media and vice-verse. There are several theories which reveal the interrelation between the sources of information and the audience. One of them, the social cognitive theory of mass communication, studies how news influence an individual and violent behavior in particular. This paper will discuss how social cognitive theory can be used for the analysis of the situation brought about by extreme rain in Qatar that caused leaking roofs at Doha's airport.
Various media theories analyze the audience’s feedback to the consumed information. Each of them emphasizes some specific aspects of impact on the audience. For example, one approach to analyzing news coverage chooses the importance of an event, another evaluates the television influence on violent actions. Moreover, there are theories which examine the effect of innovations implemented in a society or give an analysis of links between social networks participants. As for the social cognitive theory of mass communication, it is aimed to show the influence of information on the variety of individual behaviors. It assumes that people can learn through observation, which gives mass media the power to influence consumers’ beliefs and choices. However, for the implementation of a new behavior, an individual has to pay attention to particular information, remember it and become motivated to act according to the new data. Observation can model behavior, which can have both positive and negative results. Moreover, violent content draws more attention and is easy to reproduce. Similarly, expectancy of an award leads to a stronger motivation. Therefore, the analysis of an event using social cognitive theory reveals the informational influence on the receiver’s mind and actions.
On Wednesday, 25 November, in Qatar, a year's amount of rain dropped in a few hours, which not only resulted in widespread flooding, but also damaged 72 cars and the $17 billion airport in the capital. People died in flooding in the western areas of neighboring Saudi Arabia. On top of that, Qatar will be the host of the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and is starting a program of infrastructure development that costs $200 billion (Agencies in Doha, 2015).
The main reason for the investigation of the situation with Doha’s airport ordered by the Prime Minister has to do with the fact that it is the capital's international airport and it was opened only a year ago. The Prime Minister assures that private or governmental parties guilty of negligence will incur responsibility. The event does not only undermine the state's image, but it also reveals the carelessness of the government and lack of care with regard to the protection of nature and environment. Moreover, to the cost for relieving the consequences of the disaster will be topped by the costs of the airport's repairs.
According to the social cognitive theory of mass communication, this event can cause the following social impact. Today's abnormality of climate and weather has no borders. That is why, no state can be sure of avoiding natural disasters, devastation caused by them and, therefore, expenses for renovations. This argument can bring mass anxiety and uncertainty about the future and government's protection. On the other hand, the observation of weakness in the face of nature can unite people and make them act towards the protection of environment. As natural disasters are caused by imbalance between the consumption and regeneration, people can stimulate revisions and alterations in the states' programs to minimize harm on the environment.
Additionally, the case of damage of the capital's new airport reveals weakness of the construction and negligence of the companies responsible for its maintenance. These aspects can decrease belief in the authority's accountability. Moreover, the image of Qatar is important today like never before due to the World Cup. It is critical to fulfill the programs of infrastructure establishment in full for the safety of citizens and tourists. Similarly, lack of responsibility on the government level can lead to personal negligence. However, conversely, this case can heighten the civic stand and promote active behavior in communication with the local and state authorities.
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This event shows mistakes of the state's leadership and gives a chance for the active members of community to influence the decision-making process. Together with the victims of weather abnormalities, citizens, not only in Qatar, can contribute to the environment improvement by taking action.
In conclusion, mass media with all modern technologies and methods can make changes not only to people's mentality but actions as well. There are several theoretical approaches which examine the peculiarities of the interactive process between the sender of the information and its receiver. For instance, the social cognitive theory of mass communication reveals the impact of news on personal conduct. It assumes that people can learn due to observation and motivation. Evaluation of an event using this theory can help to predict how data influences behavioral changes in society.
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