Drugs and the mass media : a study of Saudi Arabian mass media prevention of drugs
The mass media nowadays hold a high position in the educational world, / and have a strong influence over societies. They influence and shape people's thoughts and behaviour. They have been used for a long time in many western countries in drug prevention campaigns, both successfully and unsuccessfully, Drug abuse has recently become a serious problem in Saudi Arabia . At first the Government tried to tackle the problem only by using the police force and without any publications . However, recently the Government has tried to utilize the advantage of the widespread mass media in teaching the population about the dangers of drug abuse. It started to publish a large amount of information about drugs in the mass media. This study is an evaluative research to assess the Saudi Arabian mass media coverage of the drugs issue in two respects. First is a study of the content of the coverage with regard to its presentation, style, and appeal. The second part concentrates on the effect of that coverage on the target audience: Saudi Arabian pupils, their knowledge and attitudes toward drugs, and whether those publications have benefitted them or not. This study has adopted the information-processing model as a theoretical framework. According to that model the first step in the change process is exposure to the message with a certain level of attention, that will lead to increase in knowledge and that automatically will lead to attitude change. The respondents' exposure to the newspaper messages about drugs has been measured and the result indicates that the majority of the respondents received the messages and are interested, like and believe them. Statistical tests indicate that their knowledge about drugs has been increased. Their attitudes have been assessed and the results indicate that most Saudi Arabian pupils aged from 12 to 25 years old have negative attitudes towards drugs. The results indicate that the newspaper coverage of the drugs issue has had some influence upon the Saudi Arabian pupils' knowledge and their attitudes towards drugs.