Benefit Concert - As Media Events

As Media Events

Large-scale benefit concerts attract millions of viewers and are usually broadcast internationally. As powerful means of mass communication, they can be highly effective at raising funds and awareness for humanitarian causes. Media scholars Dayan and Katz classify benefit concerts as “media events”: shared experiences that unite viewers with one another and their societies . In fact, in their book Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History, the authors suggest that the song synonymous with the Live Aid benefit concert, “We Are the World,” might as well be the theme song for media events, as it nicely encompasses the tone of such occasions: “these ceremonies (media events) are so all-encompassing that there is nobody left to serve-as out-group”.

Dayan and Katz define media events as shared experiences that unite viewers and call their attention to a particular cause or occasion. They argue that media events interrupt the flow people’s daily lives, and that such events create a rise of interpersonal communication or “fellow feeling”. Furthermore, they propose that media events transform the ordinary role of the viewer into something more interactive where they adhere to the script of the event . All these principles of media events are true of benefit concerts. Benefit concerts interrupt the routine of people’s lives because they occur (in most cases) for only for one night or for one week-end. Furthermore, they are broadcast as television spectacles that interrupt the regular scheduled programming on a given television network. Often, this kind of announced interruption will have television viewers discussing the event with others beforehand, generating a kind of excitement or “buzz” around the event. Moreover, benefit concerts encourage audiences to adhere to their script, such as by phoning in donations or signing an online pledge.

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