Media, its changes and influences

  1. What forms of new media do you use daily?

Every day, I go to Twitter on my phone to access news from around the world; it is part of my morning routine that keeps me informed about what happened locally, regionally and internationally overnight.  I then check my personal email on my phone and then my work email on my work assigned phone.  This has proven very useful to me, as it keeps me abreast of any emergency meetings that are sometimes called at short notice.  During the course of the day I keep up to date with my work email on my laptop and check personal email intermittently throughout the day on my phone.  I also read one of the local daily newspapers on my iPad, using an app, and books and magazines with my Kindle App.  I also tend to communicate more via instant messaging with WhatsApp, BBM or Viber, than via phone calls.

  1. In what ways do media reach you indirectly (through friends, co-workers, etc.)?

Very often friends and co-workers send me links to interesting articles and YouTube videos or may show me them on their own computers and mobile devices.  Since my last course I began subscribing to Frontline and they send me emails regularly about new videos that are available.

  1. Do you think that media influences your perspective of world events?

Media is all around us and we depend on television, radio, newspapers and social media to get information on world events.  While I like to think of myself as an independent thinker, I believe that media does influence my perspective of world events.  However, I support the theory that media have limited effects rather than an all pervasive effect, as in mass society or hypodermic needle theory.  Lazarsfeld’s limited effect theory reveals that people’s individual and social characteristics such as religion, education, and kinships impact on the degree of influence that the media have on them (Baran, 2010).

  1. Do you believe that the media has the power to tell you what to think about, but not what to think?

Since Thursday 20th November, 2014, social media and traditional media have been ablaze with stories and opinions on President Obama’s audacious move to take executive action to protect 5 million illegal immigrants in the United States.  While, I was following tweets about Shonda Rhimes’ shows on Thursday evening, these were interspersed with tweets about Obama’s action. It was also on the  11:00 pm news on ABC; on Friday morning, GMA, and on the local news in the morning and evening, so even as a Caribbean person, the media has made me think of this issue.   Nonetheless, I form my own opinions on this and other issues, so it does not tell me what to think but what to think about.

  1. Can media shape your beliefs? If not, explain. If yes, to what degree? Is the influence strong and direct—for example, if a newscaster told you to go jump off a bridge, would you do it? Or are your beliefs cultivated over time through continued exposure, resulting in small but measureable effects?

My beliefs have been shaped and continue to be shaped by myriad factors such as my family, friends, my religion, education, the books that I have read over the years and undoubtedly media because I have been connected for as long as I remember. Since I was a child I enjoyed watching television, and that has not changed.  I subscribe to cable and Netflix and enjoy Twitter very much.  I have been greatly inspired by Oprah Winfrey and though I do not get OWN in Trinidad, I watch her interviews on YouTube and subscribe to her magazine.  Sometimes media have challenged my beliefs or made me rethink my ideas on things; for example capital punishment.  I also enjoy the writing of Paulo Coelho and Richard Bach and they have both influenced my beliefs greatly.  However, I definitely think that my beliefs have been cultivated over time and media is but one of the influences.

  1. Are these positive or negative influences?

Since, I am not one of those people who would jump off a bridge if a broadcaster told me to, I think that media’s influence on my life has been positive.  It has certainly enlightened me.  I watch Dr. Oz or the Doctors for health tips, and would certainly modify my diet if I think that the advice they are giving is worthwhile.  I also learn about illnesses and possible treatments.  When I am going to work for 9:00 a.m., I begin my day with a local talk show, The Morning Brew and when that ends at 8:00 a.m., I watch Good Morning America; both are informative.  Oprah’s message of being the best you can be and giving back continue to resonate with me and watching Robin Roberts battle and survive cancer twice, with such grace and gratefulness has been an invaluable life lesson for me.

  1. How have information revolutions resulted in ways of knowledge changing or remaining the same? How has the power of media changed throughout history? What are some differences and similarities of our current time and place to the past? (Hint: See Blur Chapter 2.)

The main result of information revolutions is that they have all made information more accessible to everyone and assisted in empowering citizens to not just be consumers of media but producers of media also. The Net gives a voice to every user and turns every user into a potential mass communicator (Baran, 2010, p. 276).   The challenge with this though is that not all producers of media act responsibly, ethically or professionally (Baran, 2010).

From cave drawings to hand written and printed books to Guttenberg’s printing press, to newspapers, magazines, the radio, television, cable television, the Internet and the World Wide Web, there have been may centuries of change in the way that knowledge is communicated. Over time mass communication has moved from unidirectional to multidirectional (Narula, 2006).  Weinbereger states that “the ecology of knowledge has filled out” and “the ability of people to engage in discussions and to get additive knowledge and perspectives is orders and orders of magnitude better than it was” (Gladstone and Weinberger, 2012).  With each change, people have feared that it would be the demise of the medium that preceded it but this has not been the case.  In fact Kovach and Rosenstiel note that “whatever the future news structure, the history of communications suggests that the old technologies will not disappear.  But they will change, becoming smaller and playing a different role” (2011) and this is in fact what has happened.

Today there is a blend of traditional and new media but the concept of truth has changed.  The cautious media that chose its words advisedly in a crisis has been replaced by a media that frequently makes errors in a rush to get the story.  Often traditional media is scooped by social media whenever a story breaks, so traditional media too has embraced social media in order to remain viable.  Weinberger warns that “our old idea of knowledge was too restricted”.  We all have the option to contribute to knowledge because difference and disagreement are a part of it now.  No one has a monopoly over knowledge any longer (Gladstone and Weinberger, 2012).

References

Baran, S. J. (2010). Introduction to mass communication: Media literacy and culture. (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Gladstone , B and Weinberger, D.  (2012, February 17).  The changing nature of knowledge in the Internet age.  Transcript retrieved from

http://www.onthemedia.org/story/187775-changing-nature-knowledge-internet-age/transcript/

Kovach, B and Rosenstiel, T.  (2011). Blur: How to know what’s true in the age of information overload.   New York: Bloomsbury USA

Narula, U. (2006). Communication models. New Delhi, India: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=NCpYZSSEWwEC&lpg=PA11&pg=PP

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