ROLES OF PRINT MEDIA IN CREATING AWARENESS AGAINST DRUG ABUSE

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ROLES OF PRINT MEDIA IN CREATING AWARENESS AGAINST DRUG ABUSE

CHAPTER ONE

1.0    Introduction

1.1    Background to the Study

Mass media have been a major agent of socialization and tools for social changes especially now that people depend on message from mass media.

The potential power of the mass media to help solve social problems. Television, radio and print advertising can entice people to buy a wide range of products and services, and television entertainment programs and movies exert enormous influence over our ideas, values and behavior.

Therefore, according to conventional wisdom, it should be possible to use mass communications to get people to act on behalf of their own health and well-being or to “do right” by important social causes. Based on this assumption, since World War II, federal, state and local governments, private foundations and other nongovernmental organizations have sponsored hundreds of public service campaigns to promote social rather than commercial “goods” (DeJong and Winsten, 1998).

It is not surprising, then, that prevention advocates would look to the mass media as an important aid in addressing the problem of high-risk drinking among college students.

Some advocates have pushed for reform or other restrictions on alcohol advertising (DeJong and Russell, 1995). Others have sought to influence entertainment producers to end the glorification of high-risk drinking on television and in the movies (Montgomery, 1989). More recently, prevention advocates have produced a small number of media

campaigns designed to change student knowledge, attitudes and behavior.

How can the power of the mass media be used effectively to reduce high-risk drinking among college students? To explore that question, this article begins by reviewing three types of mass media campaigns focused on student drinking: information, social norms marketing, and advocacy.

This is followed by a review of key lessons for campaign design derived from work in commercial marketing, advertising and public relations and from past public health campaigns. The article concludes by suggesting how future campaigns on student drinking might be constructed so that they work in sync with environmentally focused prevention efforts now being implemented on college campuses.

Most media campaigns focused on college student drinking have been campus based, using a mix of posters, flyers, electronic mail messages and college newspaper advertisements. More recently, a few regional, state and national media campaigns have begun to address this issue as well.

The following review describes three types of campaigns. First, information campaigns try to raise awareness of the problem, usually with the intent of motivating students to avoid high-risk alcohol use. Second, social norms marketing campaigns try to correct misperceptions of current drinking norms, based on the idea that if students no longer have an exaggerated view of how much alcohol their peers are consuming, fewer of them will be led to engage in high-risk drinking. Third, advocacy campaigns attempt to stimulate support for institutional, community or public policy change. Unfortunately, evaluation data for all three types of campaigns are still very limited.

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ROLES OF PRINT MEDIA IN CREATING AWARENESS AGAINST DRUG ABUSE

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