Information dissemination is essential for the daily operations of humankind. The media has been used, over the past years, to pass on information to the general public, as well as to educate the public about developmental issues. It has, however, a great effect on how people think, as well as on how social norms and values evolve in a society. The agenda setting theory of mass media postulates that media gives the people what to think about, and influences how they think about it. It sets the agenda for the masses. One of the phenomenal issues that has been greatly affected by media is the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood controversy.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation is one of the leading foundations in the United States, which gives funds to organizations involved in research for a cure for breast cancer in the name of Planned Parenthood. The foundation announced that it would stop issuing funds for Planned Parenthood, as it was under investigation by congress. This caused a political uproar, and led to many controversial social media debates involving high profile politicians. Although the dynamics of the media influenced the points of view and the perception of the controversy, it is evident that the world of technology has, in a way, trivialized the connection between people and tremendously affected the way ideas and opinions are spread around societies. Moreover, the political bias of the media is affecting societies to a great extent. The main purpose of inquiry into this controversy is to show how the dynamics of the media can twist a political issue to an absolutely different angle.
HISTORY OF THE CONTROVERSY
One of the latest media driven controversies is the Susan G. Komen Foundation controversy. The media has played a major role in politicizing the issues concerning Planned Parenthood funds from Susan G. Komen. A number of judgments concerning the funding of the foundation have been passed by many journalists and other key players in the media. The press has also played a crucial role in prejudicing the issues surrounding Planned Parenthood. In addition, many complaints and biased stories have also been written, and issues created, concerning the funding of the foundation. Although the foundation funds projects that are aimed at improving people’s health, it is clear that those funds do benefit many people personally. Despite this fact, many unreasonable fingers have been pointed at the mismanagement and the importance of the projects, by the media, thus creating one of the biggest controversies in the world.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation had linked with PPFA, a research company whose main objective is to find cures for lethal diseases. Recently, the company had been sponsored by the Susan G. Komen Foundation in the search for a cure for breast cancer. Although for a long period of time breast cancer was considered as an issue which should not be politicized, it was clear that this controversy attracted political debates to a great extent. This was due to the Foundation sponsoring a company which had no impact on the research for curative diseases. In addition, the Foundation was supporting abortion, which politicians were against. This sparked a huge debate across the political spectrum against the Foundation. The media also played a key role in spreading the information through offering different standpoints on the issues.
The controversy began after some of the media personalities began to believe that the Foundation was allocating resources to the unnecessary projects. This was wrong because the mission of the Foundation is to search for curative measures for women affected by cancer. Contrary to its mission, the Foundation had come with a campaign known as Planned Parenthood, which was opposed by many people. This led many individuals to debate the relevance of funding the project, thus stimulating a heated debate on social media. The withdrawal of the charity meant that many women would not receive health care, and this was considered as a political issue by many people in the United States, and that is why it became controversial.
ARTICLE FROM ABC NEWS
The controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood took different courses, with the media taking sides on the issue. An article on ABC News entitled “Top Susan G. Komen Official Resigns after Planned Parenthood Flap” took a different angle while focusing on the politicization of the issue. This article discusses the resignation of Karen Handel, a topmost official at Komen. In this article, ABC News focuses on the leadership of the Susan G. Komen Foundation while, at the same time, citing the politics that was responsible for the controversy. It however defends the Foundation against the political claims. It focuses on Karen Handel, the former official at Komen, as a politician who was against abortion and Planned Parenthood during her political campaigns in Georgia. By mentioning her former candidature at Republican gubernatorial in Georgia, the articles tries to show the political influence on the issue.
On the other hand, this article gives the Susan G. Komen Foundation a voice to reply to the accusations leveled against it through Karen Handel’s statement, that the move to drop funding for Planned Parenthood was not politically motivated. The article also gives the Komen foundation a chance to be heard through the apology that the foundation gives in response to how it handled the controversy. Through this article, the media makes the public believe that the Susan G. Komen Foundation had no faults, while at the same time faulting Planned Parenthood for the controversy (Khan, 1).
HUMAN RIGHTS ARTICLE FROM EYESWIDEOPEN.ORG
Another article on the Eyes Wide Opennetwork focuses on the controversy from the human rights perspective. The article looks at how Planned Parenthood has helped over 4 million cancer victims, and catered for over 70,000 mammogram referrals. The writer of this article focuses on how the finances of the Planned Parenthood Group would be affected if the funding is stopped. The main audience for this article is the general American public, especially the female population from the lower income earning class and the uninsured, who were the main beneficiaries of the Planned Parenthood projects. The article sympathizes with this vulnerable group and criticizes Komen for her decision (Eyes Wide Open).
ARTICLE FROM BBC WEBSITE
An article from BBC’s website shows that the media took sides in the Planned Parenthood controversy. Some supported the funding, while others were surprised because of the perception of the media on the issue. The nature of the language in the article shows how the media had a different point of view on the conundrum. The author of the article tries to insinuate the importance of Planned Parenthood to many people within American society, as he tries to attract the attention of the public to the problem. It is arguable that the author of the article is a supporter of the charity due to the statements he uses in the article. The most important aspect of this article is that it is against the people who politicize the issues concerning the health of people in American society. This article definitely attracts the international community to get involved in the controversy (BBC News 3).
JOURNAL FROM CBS WEBSITE
Michele Jones, in her article on CBS’ website, tries to show how politics influenced the internal employees of the Foundation to resign. The context used in writing this journal clearly shows political influence in decision-making in the Foundation. Moreover, the article also shows the extent of political involvement in the deliberation of the organization. This also shows that the media has played a key role in defining Planned Parenthood through its controversial ideologies formulated on the issue. Although many people had distanced themselves from the controversy, it was clear that the debate affected many individuals, especially women (Michele 1).
It is now evident that the electronic media has covered the globe, and made it a small village where everything is possible. This has been made easier through globalization of the world by the Internet. Due to the interconnectivity of the Internet, it is now possible to communicate information to different people quickly, thus enhancing peoples’ knowledge on current issues. To begin with, McLuhan argues that this has become a world of communication, attributed to the age of connection. The media played a key role in taking sides in the controversy, and this helped to market the controversy to a great extent. This is because many people have access to the media and can get information fast.
Many societies have changed the way they do their activities due to the influence of the media on these vital issues. The culture of the world has changed quickly with the advances in electronic technology and this has enhanced the flow of information. Due to the social connection of the media with the masses, it is easy to increase the awareness of political issues in American society. Many people took sides in the Planned Parenthood controversy. As a consequence of the divided thought and issues surrounding the debate, the controversy took a longer period than it would have taken if there was no interference from the media. The media accused the Foundation of mismanagement of resources through the allocation of unnecessary funds to companies in the name of Planned Parenthood. This created debates, with the media taking sides on the issues concerning the controversy. The division of media thought created a cataclysm within American society, where political issues are debated. It is evident that the media represents a platform for communication for many people in American society.
In another instance, William Saletan takes a different angle on the story by showing how the Foundation was itself playing politics by distancing itself from it. In his article on Slate.com, he looks at how defunding the Planned Parenthood was a political affair (Saletan 1). His blurb reads, “Defunding Planned Parenthood over “Controversy,” was Politics by Another Name” (Saletan 1). This excerpt clearly portrays an opinionated angle of the story, where he communicates the media’s thoughts on the issue. Throughout the article, he tries to show that Komen was indeed indulging in politics.
Through the hyper connectivity of people, made easier by the Internet, many people are able to read different versions of the controversy on media blogs. Moreover, through social networking, many people from across different backgrounds were able to air different views regarding their thoughts on the Foundation’s controversy. Thus, the topology of social media and its tribalizing effects is evident in the course of the controversy. It is a fact that the controversy grew due to the perceptions of different people on the issues revolving around Planned Parenthood. It is thus evident that the public has now embraced the new technologies and, as a result, created a tribalized community with different views on the current issues. The media is believed to change issues, which concern the people, into political issues, bringing different dimensions and in so doing, contributing to the politics of interest within the society.
To epitomize, the Susan G. Komen’s controversy is a solid demonstration of how the communication world has been revolutionized. The effects of retribalization can be greatly felt through social media communication. As a consequence, the world has become a global village where information is spread around diverse social groups in the blink of an eye. Marshall McLuhan’s ideas are evident in the Susan G. Komen Foundation in general, and Planned Parenthood controversy in particular. The media played a great role in the awareness of the issues concerning the controversy. This is due to many ideologies and propaganda being generated through the media, thus leading to a debate which took a long period of time to settle.
It is believed that the dynamics of the media influenced the points of view and the perception of the controversy. It is evident that the world of technology has tribalized humanity and enhanced the connection between people more than ever before. McLuhan’s arguments are also supported by one of the leading political thinkers. Ivan Krastev argued that the communication revolution has created a “fragmentation of the public space” (Freeland, 1). This is true with social media, and the Internet: information travels rapidly, thus leading to an increased public debate across the globe. It is now evident that this is an age of connection, where the world has become one village, and where people around the globe can acquire information as it is happening.
- BBC News. Komen and the Planned Parenthood Controversy: Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16939488
- Eyes Wide Open. Susan G Komen Flip Flops on Funding. Viewed on 25th Feb, 2012. Retrieved from: http://eyeswideopen.org/?p=131
- Freeland, C. Hungary’s Revolution and the Arab Spring. Retrieved from Reuters on 25th, February, 2012. From: http://blogs.reuters.com/chrystia-freeland/2011/06/17/hungarys-revolution-and-the-arab-spring/
- Khan, H. Top Susan G. Komen Official Resigns after Planned Parenthood Flap. In ABC News. Feb 7, 2012 11:26am. 2012 print. Retrieved on 25th February, 2012 from: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/top-susan-g-komen-official-resigns-after-planned-parenthood-flap/
- Michele, Jones. Komen Executive at Center of Controversy Resigns. Article from Raycom News Network, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/16695708/komen-executive-at-center-of-controversey-resigns
- Saletan, William. How Komen Became a Tool. In Slate. Com, Viewed on 25rd Feb, 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_nature/2012/02/komen_s_planned_parenthood_controversy