Pubdate: Sun, 13 May 2007
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2007 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Author: Richard Johnson
Bookmark: (Drug Test)

Drug Testing


In 1972, Stanley Cohen described a moral panic as "a condition, 
episode, person or groups of persons emerges to become defined as a 
threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a 
stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media; sometimes the 
panics passes over and is forgotten; at other times it has more 
serious and long-lasting repercussions and might produce such changes 
as those in legal and social policy."

Does this sound at all familiar to how The Advertiser and other local 
media helped produce the latest moral panic? Was drug testing on the 
radar screen before your headlines and lead story(s)? Your attempt to 
"get past rhetoric of drug-test program" in a recent editorial speaks 
volumes to the multiple roles of the media in moving public school 
teachers to having to vote for drug testing.

You say: "So the time for posturing has passed, giving way to the 
need for thoughtful design to begin" and "it's up to the HSTA 
leadership to get past that."

I can't help but question your (the media in its many forms) 
complicit relationship in all of this. When I read or heard about one 
of the drug busts one afternoon on the radio, I knew the next morning 
that a 4- to 6-inch headline would rule the morning Advertiser.

My prediction was spot on, and I used that headline to talk to 
teachers that I work with about how the media creates moral panic to 
sell papers -- for as the saying goes, "If it bleeds, it leads."

Richard Johnson

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