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Discourses in Shock Jock Radio

Discourses in Shock Jock Radio

STEP 1: A developed understanding of Mayr�s (2008) Ch.1 Introduction: power, discourse and

institutions reading from Week 6 is required. Students should read Mayr again and concentrate on the

themes in the reading that focus on the media as a production industry that produces content for

commercial reasons, and in so doing distributes content that conveys dominant ideologies about its

function as a reflection of society�s beliefs, values, principles etc.

STEP 2: A developed understanding of Talbot�s (2007) Ch.1 Introduction: media and discourse reading

from Week 7 is required. Students should read Talbot again and concentrate on the themes in the

reading that focus on the media as embedded in peoples daily lives and interactions so that through

shared knowledges, mediated texts are interpreted as conveying ideas about particular persons social or

professional positions.

STEP 3: The �identity� role you will research is: radio shock jock and/or commentators and their

activities (see pages 786-787 of Turbide, Vincent & Laforest 2010)

STEP 4: Conduct independent research to locate contemporary * Australian Newspaper content that

features the topical professional/social roles mentioned above. Use ANZ Newsstand (Proquest) online

library database resource as a starting point. See the link below. *Article must have been published in a

(print or online) newspaper publication within the last 12 months.


Discourses in Shock Jock Radio

Section One

The publication chosen for this work for discourse analysis in this work appeared in the
Sydney Morning Herald on March 20 th the year 2015. The article was titled, “Shock jock John
Laws savages caller claiming to be sex abuse victim”. It takes us through a phone call interview
between a shock jock radio presenter known as John Laws and an old man who turned out to be
to a victim of sexual abuse during this childhood. This article was very important to identify
because it portrays a very sensitive issue in the contemporary society. The manner in which the
presenter questions the old victim of sexual abuse portrays the highest level of ignorance about
how a victim of abuse should be handled. This article communicates various ideas that are
directly linked to various social and political malpractices that still take place in the society
where we live in. The fact that the interview was conducted through a phone call meant that
there were so many people who were listening to the flow of conversation (Mayr 2008).
There are quite a number of institutional practices and procedures that qualified this
article to become a news item.One of the practices than has been witnessed from the side of the
media is that of John Law who according to the article, was a radio announcer. For any person
who was listening to this it was very clear that Law did not really understand how serious the
effects of the sexual abuse were on Brian, despite the fact that event happened more than fifty
years ago (Sydney Morning Herald, 2015). The questions that were being asked by John proved
that he was already judgemental on Brian and they actually insinuated that it was Brian’s fault
that he was sexually abused. It is very unfortunate to hear the presenter ask Brian why he could
not resist or fight back the perpetrators knowing very well that he was a minor who at that time
could not do anything. Brian called the radio station hoping that he could at least get some help


in form of counselling but in real sense, contrary to his expectation, the situation become even
worse (Sydney Morning Herald, 2015).Another institutional practice that actually enables this
article to become newsworthy is directly linked to Brian’s family. Under normal circumstances
one of the major roles of the family institution is to provide its members with love, warmth and
security. Brian, right from his childhood until his old age today has not experienced any of these
from his family or any relationship. He completely knows nothing about family love. As a result,
he has lived a very miserable life believing that nobody in this world is worth his trust.
Another institution that gives a very bad picture from the article is the law enforcement
urgency. In the interview, Brian confessed that he had reported to the police that he had been
sexually assaulted two times but the police never did anything and instead told him to go far
away and forget about the case. Unfortunately, the memories of the ordeals are still very fresh in
him mind at 80 years of age. It is the expectation of every member of society that the police
should enhance security by arresting law breakers and protecting crime victims (Tschopp, Wells
& Barney, 2012). However, for Brian’s case, nothing was done, and the fact that he was a child
then did not make any difference. When the police refused to perform their essential duty of
providing security particularly to minors who innocently asked for help, it becomes news
(Talbot, 2007).
This article served the media’s role of communication despite the controversy created by
its content. This information has been encoded to bring to the attention of the reader,the manner
in which people can harass victims of abuse either knowingly or unknowingly during interviews
(Katju & Markandey, 2011). The case used for this article serves as an eye opener to so many
other people whether presenters like John or listeners. Readers of this article would clearly
dismiss the impression created and the kinds of questions were asked by John.



One morning, as was his routine, John Laws was hosting show at the radio station. On
this morning, he received an unusual call from one of his listeners who according to the article
was named Brian, though not his real name. Brian called the station to make a confession about
his childhood predicament where he had been sexually abused as a young boy. Today, Brian is
aged 80 years old and he recalls that the event occurred two times in the 1940s, when he was 11
and when he had reached 14. The first instance took place at their home in Goondiwindi and
when his family relocated to a different town which he never mentioned, the perpetrator
followed him. John seemed so surprised at this turn of events and decided to ask Brian where his
parents were all this time. Unfortunately, Brian never informed his parents about all that was
happening because he was never loved. To make the situation even worse, Brian never had
anybody in the name of friends or relatives that he could trust largely because of the abuse he
had experienced and his denial of family love. Today, Brian is completely withdrawn from any
relationships with people to an extent that he lives alone.
John made an attempt to cheer him up but it was all in vain. On seeing that John was
completely annoyed, he quickly responded by expressing his disappointment on how his time
had been wasted in the interview because Brian failed to cheer up even after sharing his story.
Brian further expressed his bitterness by saying he did not feel like talking to anybody. He
remembered than when he was still a boy, he had reported the matter to the police who never
took any action but instead advised him to go away and forget about the case. The police did not
refuse to act because they had doubt on Brian’s case but because they just did not want to help
him. All this time, as the interview was going on, John was trying to persuade him to come down
in a very impolite way. In fact, John kept insisting that the event happened long time ago and it


was his choice to forget about it. He even suggested to Brian that he should go to the pub, grab a
drink and have as much fun as he can with friends to help him forget about the whole story.
However, John Laws has no idea how difficult it is for Brian to forget this event. Nothing
changed and Brian became even more furious. On noticing that he had not managed to help
Brian in any way, John advised him to change his negative attitude which was his greatest enemy
and that God could only help those people who try to help themselves.
In his comments about the case, the president of Adult Surviving Child Abuse, Dr.
Kezelman, said that he was happy because John Laws had expressed some feelings of empathy
for Brian but continued to say that it was helpless because his understanding of Brian’s situation
was still very poor.

Section Three

This article as a media discourse has basically made use of different language styles to
convey the information that was intended. One such observable style particularly in this for
representing the morning show was the use of a radical version of giving out opinions by use of
hosts who are very provocative like John Laws. Some of John Laws utterances in this article are
very inciting to the members of the public who are listening as well as other fellow radio
presenters (Turbide, 2010). It was clear that Brian who was the interviewee was in a serious
trouble but even so, John Laws, the shock jock, further worsens the already worse situation by
telling Brian, to simply try to help himself because even God only helps those who try to help
themselves. This statement is so provoking both to his subject Brian, the listeners at that time and
the readers of this article. In fact this style is one that can actually be able to mobilize the opinion
of members of the public due to its provocative image (Saba & Jennifer, 2009). Initially, this


kind of show was supposed to entertain the readers by the manner in which it attracted people’s
opinions but this did not apply with Brian’s case. The style gave a lot of room for freedom of
expression and democracy and as a result, it ended up getting criticisms from readers such as Dr.
Kezelman(Zou, 2014).
In the article, John Laws constantly blames Brian for his predicament with full
knowledge he was just a child then and could therefore not defend himself. Readers therefore are
able to notice the use of irony in this article. Nobody could expect a presenter of John Laws
caliber to question his interviewee why he could not rise and fight his assailants when he was
being abused. His comments and opinions regarding Brian case were definitely out of place for
any person who was reading the article. The use of circulation of discourse has also been noted
in the article as restatements and propagators have been identified in the article (Turbide, 2009).
When various concepts are circulated in an article, it brings about reinterpretations, repetitions,
and reformations of various utterances which further bring in to play sociolinguistic and socio-
historical factors. In the radio show as documented, the article records John Law’s repetitive
“cheer up” calls to Brian, he has been quoted telling Brian a number of times to try being happy
by going to the pub and enjoy some drinks with friends (Mahesh & Dileepkumar, 2014).Towards
the end of the article, the President of Adult Surviving Child also becomes repetitive by insisting
that John Laws was not in any way helpful during their conversation with Brian because he could
not understand the effects of sexual abuse from the perspective of the victim. He also repeated
the statement that he was impressed with the fact that John was somehow empathetic even in his
lack of understanding (Mattis, 2009).
In the article the name of the caller, “Brian”, was quoted in the first instance to show that
it was not his real name but actually a pseudo name. This style is normally used in quite a


number of times in the media to hide the identity of the subjects particularly those who have
been involved in abuse or victims of certain crimes. The sensitive nature of the issue discussed in
the article does not warrant the revelation of the identity of the victim in question (Downie and
Schudson, 2009).
The repeated use of direct speeches in the article has did not change the circulating
discourse that emerged throughout the article. The circulation of discourse was rather enhanced
because the same socio-linguistic and socio-historical factors still came to play (Awad & Isabel,
2011). A large part of the conversation between John Laws and Brian was documented in form
of direct speeches rather than reported. For example, when Brian expresses his disappointed by
saying that the experience of abuse had completely turned him off in any relationship and
therefore could not trust anyone. John Laws responds immediately saying that he had only
wasted his time performing the interview because it did not make any difference. The use of
pejorative characterization has actually been repeated quite a number of times as we have seen
the way John Laws has belittled his caller and kept on blaming him, an event that further
worsened the situation (Vincent, 2009). Expectedly, pejorative characterization in this article has
been manifested in a very injurious waydue to the fact that there has been a conflict between the
two parties involved. The reader will clearly notice that this conflict was brought by the kind of
verbal violence that was being perpetuated by the radio host (Peng & Buwei, 2009).
At the beginning of the article, there is a photo of an old man, in a dark room. Below the
photo, there is a statement that actually acts as an eye-breaker to the reader of the article. The
statement actually reveals that Brian was warned by John Laws to change his attitude. It is clear
right from the beginning that indeed John Laws was a hard man considering the manner in which
he interviewed Brian. Before anyone begins to read this article, an impression has already been


created that there is a victim of sexual abuse who had been harassed during an interview with a
radio presenter (Blocher, 2012). This in itself is a factor that creates curiosity to the reader to find
out all the details of how it all happened.
This article actually expresses the language of an activist. Right from the beginning he
keeps pointing out on the flaws of John Laws for harassing and insulting Brian who was is a
distressed situation. The article has been structured in such a way that all the fingers point at the
John Laws while much empathy is felt for Brian. At the end of the article, he goes further to seek
the opinion of an expert in matters of child abuse. The expert manages to reinforce the point that
he was trying to bring home about the savaging of Brian, an old man who still lives with
memories of sexual abuse during his childhood.



Awad, Isabel. (2011). Latinas/os and the mainstream press: The exclusions of professional
diversity. Journalism, 12(5), 515-532.
B P Mahesh, C. G., S, V. M., C, A. R., & Dileepkumar, M. (2014). PRINT MEDIA
Applied Services Marketing Perspectives, 3(3), 1047-1051.
Blocher, J. (2012).Public Discourse, Expert Knowledge, and the Press. Washington Law Review,
87(2), 409-443.

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