Õnnetuse konstrueerimine uudisdiskursuses Haapsalu väikelastekodu põlengu näitel
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The title of my master’s thesis is „The Construction of an Accident in a News Discourse based on the Haapsalu Children’s Home Fire”. The main goal of the thesis is to examine to what extent the comments that are written to the original news texts contribute to the news discourse and how does the news discourse itself change in these comments. The aim is also to find out to what extent the signs of traumatic stress (crisis reaction) and secondary trauma appear in the comments, what communicative aims and additional topics emerge in the comments. The theoretical part of the thesis is concentrated on the specifics of onlinemedia. The most important aspect of online-media in the context of this thesis is interactivity. Previously the public was only there to receive the message sent by journalists and media organizations. The interactivity of online-media enables the public to be a part of creating and upgrading a news discourse. There are multiple ways for the members of the public to take part in this process. For example by posting videos and photos, spreading additional information with hyperlinks or commenting in the forums of online-versions of media publications. The theoretical part of my master’s thesis also explains the specific aspects of covering accidents in news. It is also explained that the signs of crisis reactions that are the result of traumatic events do not affect only those people who were directly related to the event but also those who experience the event through a mediator (television, radio, newspaper, oral communication etc). More specifically I searched and analyzed the empirical data for occurrence of signs of shock and early reaction phase. The empirical data consist of the news covering the Haapsalu Children’s Home fire on 20.02.2011 in the online-versions of dailies Postimees and Õhtuleht, online news portal Delfi and the comments added to these news. The primary empirical data consisted of 69 articles and 3530 comments. For the final empirical data I chose 3 articles (one form each publication) and 735 comments written to these articles. The empirical data has been analyzed by combining the quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative analysis enables to place qualitative data into a certain relation taking into account the whole data. Qualitative analysis enables to make examples and show the content of a certain analyses unit. I encoded 735 comments taking into account the 58 categories determined in the encoding instruction. I used the same encoding instruction to analyze the three news texts. The analyses showed that the signs of secondary trauma really do occur in the comments and they are clearly distinguishable. The signs of early reaction phase are more likely to occur than the signs of shock. The most common signs of early reaction phase in the comments were sadness, looking for reasons and making assumptions about them. An important aspect of this is the fact that the encoding results of news texts did not show signs of crisis reactions or other aspects that would contribute to the members of the public developing the crisis reactions. The most important result of the analysis was the fact that self-regulation took place in the forums. The people who wrote the comments felt that they were a part of creating the news discourse and they had a sense of responsibility when it came to the content that was created in the forums. They felt responsible for it being in accordance with the norms of good practice and moral norms, adequate, truthful and respectful towards the public. The forum, according to the public, is no longer a place for people to take out their feelings. It is rather a place for getting and providing additional information. The analysis of the comments confirmed the assumption that critical events point out additional topics that the society finds to be important at the moment. In case of the Haapsalu Children’s Home fire the most important topic that emerged was the attitude towards disabled people in Estonia. There were different opinions about the topic expressed by those who had close experiences with disabled people and also by those who did not have any experiences of that kind. The additional topics emerged solely in the forums and were not motivated by the news texts. In conclusion it can be said that my master’s thesis reached it’s goals and offered certain surprises. The fact that the forums have become an important part of a news discourse is proven by the phenomenon that people are not indifferent towards who writes in the forums, what and how it is written. People perceive that new and constantly changing truth is being created in the forums concerning the concrete event as well as the additional important topics perceived by the members of the society at that certain moment.
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