chapter  1
20 Pages

Introduction: media events in globalized media cultures


The interest in exceptional forms of media communication may be traced back to the beginning of interdisciplinary media and communication research; for example, Hadley Cantril’s (1940) study on the panic caused by Orson Welles’ radio play The Invasion from Mars (written with the assistance of Hazel Gaudet and Herta Herzog). We find early research on outstanding ceremonial events in broadcasting (cf. Lang and Lang 1969 [1952]; Shils and Young 1956; Chaney 1983). Other authors, more cynically, such as Daniel Boorstin (1963), complained about an increasing number of “pseudo events” in media communication. However, in their 1970s and 1980s work, culminating in the path-breaking book of 1992, it was Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz who brought this hitherto somewhat neglected discussion to a new stage, drawing our attention to certain phenomena which they called “media events.”