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Exploring the Boundaries of Heroes, Celebrities and Role Models after 9/11: Lessons from Shanksville
Unformatted Document Text:  Lessons from Shanksville p. 16 Assessing the role of the mass media in creating and portraying celebrities and heroes is perhaps a neglected area of mass communication research. Considering their powerful influence on values, beliefs, and behavior, much future research should be directed toward this area of study. Although our results did not show that exposure to news media directly influenced how people changed their thinking about celebrities and heroes, news media exposure did promote talking about the fate of UA Flight 93 and was an antecedent to identification with those on board. Our findings thus affirm the important function of the mass media as providing the role models with whom we identify and emulate. Results of this study are limited by the nature of the sample and the common limitations of survey research. A longitudinal study would be tremendously beneficial in helping to overcome some of these deficiencies. In addition, qualitative research approaches could shed light on the reasons why people responded to this event the way they did. Future research is also needed on the important relationship between mass media and memorializing the dead. More than one-fourth of the respondents in our study had memorials in their home. Qualitative research is needed to discover how people memorialize the dead and how the mass media affects this process. Responses to the tragic deaths of Princess Diana, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Dale Earnhardt, and other celebrated people need to be examined in light of the mass media’s ability to keep their images alive for years to come. Some of the residents of Shanksville told us they have grown very close to the family members of those lost on board UA Flight 93, and some of these residents also

Authors: Brown, William. and Fraser, Benson.
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Lessons from Shanksville
p. 16
Assessing the role of the mass media in creating and portraying celebrities and
heroes is perhaps a neglected area of mass communication research. Considering their
powerful influence on values, beliefs, and behavior, much future research should be
directed toward this area of study. Although our results did not show that exposure to
news media directly influenced how people changed their thinking about celebrities and
heroes, news media exposure did promote talking about the fate of UA Flight 93 and was
an antecedent to identification with those on board. Our findings thus affirm the
important function of the mass media as providing the role models with whom we
identify and emulate.
Results of this study are limited by the nature of the sample and the common
limitations of survey research. A longitudinal study would be tremendously beneficial in
helping to overcome some of these deficiencies. In addition, qualitative research
approaches could shed light on the reasons why people responded to this event the way
they did.
Future research is also needed on the important relationship between mass media
and memorializing the dead. More than one-fourth of the respondents in our study had
memorials in their home. Qualitative research is needed to discover how people
memorialize the dead and how the mass media affects this process. Responses to the
tragic deaths of Princess Diana, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Dale Earnhardt, and other
celebrated people need to be examined in light of the mass media’s ability to keep their
images alive for years to come.
Some of the residents of Shanksville told us they have grown very close to the
family members of those lost on board UA Flight 93, and some of these residents also


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