DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know that a “panic broadcast” happened on the Halloween eve of 1938 when Orson Welles broadcast the 17th episode of the CBS Radio series ‘The Mercury Theatre on the Air’ featuring the novel written by H.G. Welles, ‘The War of the Worlds’? Perhaps it might be hard to imagine that a simple broadcast could cause a panic attack, but it really did. How did it happen? The 1-hour radio drama directed and narrated by Orson Welles was in the form of a simulated live newscast of developing events telling the story of Martian invasion of Earth. Out of the 12 million people in the United States who heard the broadcast, about a million gullible audience believed that a serious alien invasion was indeed happening causing a massive panic among the citizens. As a matter of fact, some people fled to seek shelter in different areas and began calling their loved ones to bid them farewell. Some ran into the grocery to hoard supplies—the nation was in mayhem and it was because of the simple broadcast.
The incident made a significant hallmark in the history of communications and as a matter of fact, it led to the development of the Hypodermic Need Theory—a theory that states mass media has a direct, immediate and powerful effect on its audiences. According to Pew Research Center, news watchers still prefer television as the main channel and source of news in 2016 with 80% votes. Consequently, over the years, the credibility of news sources has been the concern of citizens in the United States.