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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. 5 Brown (1987) discussed the exploitation of tragedies by the news media. She contends that photojournalists intensify tragic situations because of the desire to capture more scandalous and titillating photographs of the event. The news media’s role in reporting on stories of grief and heroism as well as their efforts to memorialize the dead is not well researched. However, there is substantial work on how people form emotional bonds with media persona and thus vicariously experience emotions like grief. In this paper we focus on one type of involvement called identification. Identification with Celebrities and Heroes Identification is a fundamental process of social change that has been discussed by a number of important theorists, including Freud (1922), Kelman (1961), Lasswell (1965), and Burke (1969). Freud (1922, p. 29) defined identification as “the earliest expression of an emotional tie with another person.” Lasswell (1965) observed mass identifications giving rise to social forces such as nationalism. Organizational communication scholars have taken the identification concepts of Lasswell and Burke and applied them to the concept of organizational identification (Cheney, 1983; Cheney & Tompkins, 1987; Johnson, Johnson & Heimberg, 1999). Burke (1969) indicates that identification occurs when one individual shares the interests of another individual or believes that he or she shares the interests of another (p. 180). Although two individuals can be joined, they still can be distinct. Rosenfeld (1969) sees identification as simply the common ground held by people in communication. Brown and colleagues (Brown, Basil, & Bocarnea, in press; Brown & Fraser, in press) see identification as a form of audience involvement that commonly follows parasocial interaction.

Authors: Brown, William. and Fraser, Benson.
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Lessons from Shanksville
p. 5
Brown (1987) discussed the exploitation of tragedies by the news media. She
contends that photojournalists intensify tragic situations because of the desire to capture
more scandalous and titillating photographs of the event. The news media’s role in
reporting on stories of grief and heroism as well as their efforts to memorialize the dead is
not well researched. However, there is substantial work on how people form emotional
bonds with media persona and thus vicariously experience emotions like grief. In this
paper we focus on one type of involvement called identification.
Identification with Celebrities and Heroes
Identification is a fundamental process of social change that has been discussed by
a number of important theorists, including Freud (1922), Kelman (1961), Lasswell
(1965), and Burke (1969). Freud (1922, p. 29) defined identification as “the earliest
expression of an emotional tie with another person.” Lasswell (1965) observed mass
identifications giving rise to social forces such as nationalism. Organizational
communication scholars have taken the identification concepts of Lasswell and Burke and
applied them to the concept of organizational identification (Cheney, 1983; Cheney &
Tompkins, 1987; Johnson, Johnson & Heimberg, 1999).
Burke (1969) indicates that identification occurs when one individual shares the
interests of another individual or believes that he or she shares the interests of another
(p. 180). Although two individuals can be joined, they still can be distinct. Rosenfeld
(1969) sees identification as simply the common ground held by people in
communication. Brown and colleagues (Brown, Basil, & Bocarnea, in press; Brown &
Fraser, in press) see identification as a form of audience involvement that commonly
follows parasocial interaction.


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