An exercise exploring the ways of the Media, and people’s reactions to it, especially in relation to vulnerable groups.
1. Have a large and varied collection of newspapers and magazines and/or ask participants to gather some together. Ensure that some of them have some clear reference to your chosen topic. Scissors, sellotape, glue, coloured paper, crayons and pens should also be available.
Split people into small groups, with four to six in each. Give each group a large sheet of paper. Ask them to create a collage of words and images that show how the Media portray „victims“. It might be a good idea to ask people to start with what they understand by the word first. It could be victims of disaster or conflict or circumstance. In groups they should look at, and think about, how the Media shows the ”victims“.
As well as creating the collage, they should discuss their reactions to the word „victims“ and the media attitude towards „victims‘ and why this might be so.
After a set amount of time, maybe thirty minutes, ask each group to show and explain their collage to everyone else.
2. Open up a general discussion by asking how people reacted to the task, the word, the media messages and others in their group. Encourage some analysis of the Media: its ways of working; its views of vulnerable groups; its reasons for being as it is; how influential and powerful it is; how it could be changed or modified. Some strong feelings may also be stirred up. Allow time for them to be expressed but also time for some analysis and positive as well as negative aspects to be considered.
This is a deliberately provocative exercise to stir up some thoughts and feelings about the influence of the Media on people and the world. It also provokes people to consider their own attitudes – and those of Society in general – towards vulnerable groups. Similarly provocative variations would be to change the title to: vulnerable groups or helping the needy. More specific, and perhaps less controversial, would be to have the name of a specific group as the title or disasters or conflict or, even, the Red Cross.