Is the media influencing your ideology ?

What first comes to mind when you see or hear the word ‘shark’?

I can imagine the words ‘attack’, ‘killer’, or ‘predator’ surfaces in your mind. Think about where you have heard these words used and where this perception of sharks has been represented.

The answer is in the media; in newspapers, on television, in memes, on face book, in movies, on online publications etc.

Due to the reality that not everyone has personally experienced being in the presence of a shark, we rely on the media to fill in the gaps and form our perceptions of these animals.

It is common for the media to capitalize the audience’s fear of sharks and feed off societies negative ideological position that sharks are blood thirsty killers which has been disseminated globally with the release of the 1975 film ‘Jaws’. The media continually reinforce these negative perceptions by adopting the most engaging news angle in order to formulate a news story that captures the audience’s attention.


{image 1 source, image 2 source, memes made by me here}

This has contributed to a severely unbalanced representation of shark’s in the media.


Take for instance, the media coverage of the professional Australian surfer Mick Fanning and his encounter with a shark.

Headlines of this event include;


{screenshot from The Sydney Morning Herald}

Shark_MF_headline_2_ABCNews{screenshot from ABC News}

Shark_MF_headline_4_guardian{screenshot from The Guardian}

Shark_MF_headline_3_Telegraph{screenshot from The Telegraph}

As you can see these headlines encapsulate the mainstream ideology of sharks and demonstrates the heavily unbalanced media coverage of these animals, as only one of the stories has sought the input of a shark expert.

If you listen to the interview with the professional surfer, Fanning’s direct quote is “I felt something get stuck in my leg rope”. In this scenario, it seems that the media has chosen to embellish the appearance of the shark’s violent behaviour as the animal attacking the surfer. Whereas, it is possible that the shark’s tussle may have been one of distraught in attempt to untangle itself from the leg rope.

The reason why I am talking about these attitudes towards sharks is to allow people to begin to understand the media’s capability of reinforcing negative ideologies, which I believe that most people can relate to in terms of fearing sharks as cold-blooded killers.

This leads me to emphasise media critic, Jeff Cohen’s valid point that ‘what we learn will be what the media shows us’. The fact that it is the media informing us of issues and events, that they have the power to dramatically influence our ideologies and our perceptions by choosing what to show us, what to tell us and what not to, gives them the power to shape what we may think. Even more alarming is that there is a severely unbalanced ownership of media in Australia.

To put it into perspective here is a snapshot:


{image source}

Consequently, this amass of ownership yields the power to ideologically concentrate content that is distributed to the public, meaning that bias news is inevitably existent.   In response to this, there is rising critique and concern regarding media’s role in our society and the ideological control it has over people.


What is your attitude towards sharks and where did it come from??

Who do you think has influenced your opinion???



2 thoughts on “Is the media influencing your ideology ?

Add yours

  1. Sharks do seem to receive the ‘short end of the stick’ in the media. However, I think this misrepresentation has its roots in a psychology that is somewhat more substantial. While you are seriously more likely to die in a car crash, people don’t demonise cars, perhaps because the car is not capable of eating you, you’re on land and you are behind the wheel with a sense of control. I think that our primal fear is natural, and it is up to our heads to override our hearts and sort out fact from fiction. The ABC ‘Conversations’ podcast on the great white shark says it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was a very interesting podcast, thankyou for sharing!! Perhaps it is a combination of both the media’s coverage of sharks and our psychological means of instinct as sharks are at the top of the food chain in the aquatic environment and when people swim in the ocean that obviously frightens people that they are not in control anymore are not at the top of the hierarchy as we are on land. Thankyou for your comment and sharing your opinion!


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