Friday, March 07, 2008

The Mass Media, Scary Children, and Thoughts on Becoming a Hermit

This book made me hate society.

At first glance, the baby looks kind of peaceful, right? Wait. TV for an eyeball. That's kind of unnerving. And so is everything within the covers of this book. While I admit that I am often a skeptic of taking everything within a book for truth (see: early reactions to the Di Vinci Code), considering its academic nature, I gave this book a shot. My life, how I live it, the TV I watch and the people I know will never be the same.

In brief, Croteau and Hoynes spend hundreds of pages discussing theories of mass media and its effects on the public. As a frequent consumer of mass media (I check CNN daily, read the Times when I'm feeling ambitious, read the DI for entertainment purposes, among others), I find with each chapter this book revealing things about myself and mass communication culture that, I, for one, had a hard time coming to terms with.

For one, it has taught me to regard the media with an even more critical eye (hopefully not one that will turn into a television set anytime soon). I have always been a stereotypical hater of Fox News. What they put on TV and the internet is criminal, and something that should be addressed on a federal level. However, it is only because they do these things more blatantly than other sources that I find them so offensive. CNN, the Times, AOL, Yahoo.... these outlets thrive on sensationalism--something that, while entertaining, is doing so much harm to the intellect of the American people that I can hardly stand to stomach it. Placing a story about the Iraq War on the front pages but utilizing only a quote by the Defense Department and providing no critical counter arguments as these outlets so often do is something straight out of Orwell. Do we not realize that we are being primed to believe the agendas of official sources and respect them perhaps far more than they deserve? Furthermore, corporate ownership has corrupted the process further by strategically placing products and emphasis in certain areas that will promote action from the consumer though we are unconscious of these efforts. Yet, under the guise of "independent" media, these outlets continue to push an agenda while allowing the public to believe they are not subject to one.

It's a sad world when the most unbiased, or at least honest outlet in the news media is a program that is run on a comedy channel. Yet it seems no solution is on the horizon until consumers of news media realize they are nothing more than recipients of an agenda that preferences consumption and sensationalism over honesty.

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