Sometimes, when I am at my very luckiest, my job is simply to think about interesting mediated phenomena. Recently, I was interviewed for a story on media fear-mongering about predatory animals:
For most of us that live in urbanized settings in developed nations, the media stands in as our primary (sole?) source of contact with predatory animals, filtering out all but the most remarkable-seeming animal behavior. My hunch is that in much the same way that newsmedia in particular focus on certain forms of violence among humans, so too does it apportion attention to apparently ‘violent’ forms of animal behavior. On the other hand, those stories where animals appear simply as objects of sympathy (e.g. Cecil the Lion) don’t help much either, because they also tend to obscure the complexities of all human-animal relationships. Either kind of story invites audiences to react viscerally and reaffirming the notion that animals are objects for our use and gratification.