FAMILY IMAGES AND FAMILY ACTIONS AS PRESENTED IN THE MEDIA: WHERE WE'VE BEEN AND WHAT WE'VE FOUND
University of Dayton
The "legacy of fear"--that sometimes real, most times imagined, power of the media--has been with us since the first day that we discovered how to send messages beyond the range of our voices and reach of our arms. The public concern reflected in this legacy of fear has been primarily focused on the effects that media may have on children. The 13 separate investigations known as the Payne Fund Studies ( Charters, 1933) were motivated by a public concern regarding the influence of motion pictures on young people. Although some of the investigations by today's standard hardly measure up, their contributions to the public discussion, understanding, and policy formation at the time were quite significant. Exploring the content of the media as a first stage in the evaluation of its potential impact has been and remains a fundamental step in virtually every sizable investigation ( Schramm, Lyle, & Parker, 1961). Whereas the intervening years of the 1940s to the 1960s expanded our methodological repertoire and theoretical understanding of the media, it was the violent events of the 1960s that once again fueled the legacy of fear. The Media Task Force Report, Violence & the Media ( Baker & Ball, 1969), and The General Surgeon Report, Television and Social Behavior ( Comstock & Rubinstein, 1972) each reflects public concern over the impact of the media.