Misinformation of animal agriculture and its effects on climate change within media outlets is a problem that needs to be addressed in the field of communication studies. The media does not adequately communicate and continuously misinform the public the primary causes of climate change while underestimating animal agriculture as the leading cause of global warming. The public is entitled to the truth about animal food production and its effects on climate change. They need to know the truth about how harmful animal food production is to the world as well as its ethical and moral issues.
This topic needs to be examined within the field of communication studies as it affects democracy, diversity, globalization, and technology. This problem intersects with our democracy as greedy conservative politicians and corporations pay media outlets to lie and deceive the public about climate change in order to make more money. It intersects with diversity as there are many communication efforts to shape beliefs, values, and perceptions in different communities and cultures through the media platform.
This problem affects globalization because animal agriculture is present throughout the world and climate change not only affects the United States, it affects everyone globally. It also intersects with technology as the public is being misinformed through miscommunication from different media outlets such as the internet, television, advertisement, and magazines. In this essay, I am going to explore how Media Ecology Theory can help with misinformation in the media of animal agriculture and its effects on climate change.
Media Ecology Theory is a theory which may help with this problem.
According to the textbook, Introducing Communication Theory by West and Turner, Media Ecology Theory is the study of how media and communication processes affect human perception, feeling, emotion, and value (West and Turner, 2018, pg.438). The word “media” act directly to mold and organize a culture while “ecology” is the study of how environments influence individuals. McLuhan who is a communications theorist wanted to understand the influence between media and technology and how it integrates in human affairs. Media Ecology assumes that how we understand reality is based on symbol systems and technologies people use to communicate and think with. As these symbols and media evolve through time, so does our thinking process. This theory is known for its catchphrase “the medium is the message” (Mclulan,1964, pg.444) which means that the medium or communication channel has the ability to change how we think about others, ourselves, and the world around us (West and Turner, 2018, pg.444). The internet, television, radio, movies, lectures, seminars, and email are all considered as a medium. McLuhan says that these mediums affect out unconscious state while the content or the message affects our conscious state. As humans, we are always searching for information and are constantly being influenced by media as we see, read, hear, listen, and try to understand content that is given to us by media. Harold Adams Innis who is a Canadian political economist believed that technology has the power to shape society. Society cannot escape the influence of technology, technology brings global lands together, and technology will remain central to virtually all walks of life (West and Turner, 2018, pg.438).
Media Ecology theory applies to my communication problem because people use different media outlets on a daily basis and are easily influenced by what they see and hear. People unconsciously turn to media outlets such as newspapers, television, internet, magazines, movies, and radio for updates or information on a wide range of topics as days and months progress. Many times, the media misinforms the public through its bias media platforms. Fox News for example, are mostly right-winged conservatives who display a certain agenda that only appeal to other right-winged conservatives. According to McLuhan, we become manipulated by television. Our attitudes and experiences are directly influenced by what we watch on television and our belief systems apparently can be negatively affected by television (West and Turner, 2018, Pg. 441). However, although some media outlets may misinform and miscommunicate to the public about certain issues going on in the world, I believe that by understanding Media Ecology Theory we can use the same tactics that different media outlets use to influence peoples’ perception, values, and beliefs on animal agriculture and its effects on climate change. Change does not occur over night, it is a slow process which requires a lot of time.
Politics plays a large role in how the meat and dairy industry is perceived in the eyes of the public. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the beef industry is a $95 billion a year business and the North American Meat Institute estimates that, in total, the meat industry contributes about $894 billion to the US economy (citation). Being such a large conglomerate corporation means political influence. About $11 Million per year is spent on political campaigns and $7 Million is spent on lobbying the federal government according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets website. The meat and dairy industry wants you to eat meat and consume dairy products so they will do their best to misinform people through organizations such as The American Cancer Society, The American Cancer Society, and The American Heart Association which is stated in the film, “What the Health” by filmmaker Kip Anderson. These organizations are funded by the meat and dairy industry to promote consumption on their websites.