Books and Movies Reviews

war of the worlds

The article "The Invasion from Mars: Radio Panics America", author and source unknown, is a review of the Orsen Wells's, "War of the Worlds" phenomena, and thefirst mass communication study researching this event, Hadley Cantril's (1940)The Invasion from Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic. The event referenced above was a dramatic radio broadcast of a fictional alien invasion. The broadcast aired on October 30th, 1938, and created wide spread panic among many people who believed it to be a factual news account. The phenomenon has been traditionally used to support theories that believe mass communication has a powerful effect on its audience. Although the early communication research of this event is generally considered faulty, the event itself was believed to cause panic with at least a million people, and the research into it was thefirst of its kind.
The articlefirst provides us with some background as to the social environment of the audience during thisfirst broadcast. Radio Broadcasting in 1938, although it had been around for over two decades, had only recently reached critical mass and acceptance among American Society. It had replaced the newspaper as the medium of choice for news and information. The country itself was coming out of the great depression, facing signs of war in Europe, and the emergence of both communism and fascism. Science Fiction broadcasts were not very common, and radio broadcasting had just developed the technique of "on the spot reporting".
The broadcast itself was masterfully written to appear as a music program with "emergency news broadcasts interrupting regular programming" to tell the story of an alien invasion. Although the program was proceeded by a disclaimer, many people tuned in during the program, and believed it to be a real news broadcast. The dramatization included an "emergency broadcast" by the secretary of t…

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