Media Interpretation of Modern Threats
The wide range of media products containing the threat motives is
considered in the thesis. Analyzing and systemizing these media products the
researcher considers foreign and national scholarly experience in studying
media aspects of a phenomenon of fear and anxiety in other disciplines
(philosophy, psychology, cultural studies, etc.).
The main result of the research is creation of the function concept in media
technologies for modern threats interpretation, and also the creation of a
methodology for content analysis of news feeds relating to the use of linguistic
and contextual threat markers. These methods allow us to analyze and to
compare how differently digital editions estimate various threats. They also
allow us to determine which events or phenomena are considered by specific
media as a greater or lesser threat.
Meanwhile, the use of media technologies of fear in social threats
highlighting can contribute to a better implementation of the social functions of
journalism, or vice versa, distort them having a destructive influence on public
consciousness. Therefore, the researcher has tried to synthesize social
functions of fear and social functions of journalism. Numerous examples of
modern journalistic practices show that media have all the technical and
ideological possibilities to influence the audience by using the threat motives.
The main condition of adequate use of threat motives in journalism is a balance
between a lack of information (broadcasting “threatening” media image without
trying to comprehend or explain it) and information overload (ungrounded
oversaturation of the media space with alarming messages). Rationalization
(that is, comprehension with the help of facts and expert assessments) of
anxious events to the society, problems and phenomenon can be considered the
most optimal way to neutralize its negative impact. One of the most effective
tools to rationalize the threat motive is the usage of clarification questions,
which will help rationalize the motive of the threat and thus, find out its level of
The most widespread fear technologies are analyzed on the model of
Donbass’ armed conflict (2014–2018).
The most widely spread media technologies of fear anxiety and hatred used
by both sides of the conflict are highlighted and analyzed, in particular: using
of alarming lexemes, using of military equipment movement images as
escalation of the conflict, using images of the forbidden or super destructive
weapons, using “collusion” images.
Various social risks, which can be provoked by the threat motives in
media, are analyzed in the context of such phenomena as media violence, media
mystification, “moral panic” and also in the context of exploiting the threat
motives in commercial, political and social advertisements.
The results of the content analysis of popular digital edition’s news feeds
claim that using of threat words (“terrorist attack”, “murder”, “accident”,
“catastrophe”, etc.) not only makes the news anxiously colored but
hypothetically can lead to strong psychological effects. The news texts with
connotation-neutral semantics can also contain a high level of modeling image
of the threat. They are constructed to take into account psychological and
mental dominants of audience and contain an alarming context.
The results of the comparative analysis of the threat level presented by the
news policy of the analyzed publications, with the expert assessments of these
threats (in particular, experts of Strategic Studies National Institute, Gorshenin
Institute and Razumkov Centre) turned out to be ambiguous. On the one hand,
experts’ estimations and media attention coincide in dealing with such threats
as “Russian aggression”, “terrorism”, “separatism”, “corruption”,
“economic crisis”. But on the other hand, the editorial policy of these media
pays not enough attention to the news about other threats that have been
defined by experts as ineffective system of State Administration, ineffectiveness
of the system of National Security of Ukraine, threats to the critical
infrastructure of the State, cybersecurity, technogenic and environmental
The results of the research cause a scientific interest in media products that
appeal to the feelings of fear and anxiety and also in technologies that are used
to produce these media products.
Key words: threat, fear, anxiety, aggression, manipulations, forcing,
media influence, mystifications, information war, fear technologies.