Ribeiro, Nelson, and Christian Schwarzenegger. (Eds.). Media and the Dissemination of Fear: Pandemics, Wars and Political Intimidation. Switzerland Palgrave Macmillan Cham, 2022. Pp. 305. ISBN: 978-3-030-84988-7 (cloth) $159.99; ISBN 9783-030-84989-4 (e-book) $119.00
This book reminds us that communication media have a history and that history is relevant to the concerns of our times. We are reminded early in Media and the Dissemination of Fear, that our concern about Covid-19 and its coverage by media is not new: the Black Death in the 14th century generated a number of pamphlets from physicians with warnings of the plague. The fear of death motivated people to pay attention to this kind of message since the plague killed huge numbers across Europe. This book reminds us that communication media become central in times of stress. This book also reminds us that media have changed and continue to spread messages of fear and persuasion across the globe.
To begin, a couple of observations are in order. First, almost all of the authors do historical research on media and have a European or Middle Eastern identity. Second, all of the chapters are heavily documented with original data or in-depth secondary research, often from sources like newspapers and radio programs. Third, there are clear connections for the use of these contents with consequences for audiences, whether intended or unintended, of fear and political propaganda. Even though Media and the Dissemination of Fear focuses mostly on cases that may not be in readers' personal experience, the thesis of media's role in promoting propaganda and fear are abundantly clear to today's world of fake news and fearmongering in all regions of the globe. The need for the field of communication research to take history of the field seriously is the clear conclusion.
The first substantive section contains two chapters, the first one, by two health researchers (Anna Wagner and Doreen...