Blog 1: Examining Media Use and Influence

Using new media is something that I use every day in both my career and in my personal life. Let’s first start with my personal life. In my personal life I currently post to social websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. On these websites I connect with friends and family about my personal and professional endeavors. I also use the Internet daily to access my favorite music via Pandora online or I stream funny videos whether that is on YouTube or Netflix. I consider myself to be a new media and technology fanatic. I love buying new technology such as the Apple TV, IPad and Apple computer to access new media at the tips of my fingertips. New media consumes most of my personal life outside of working and participating in my graduate course.

In my professional life I use new media to communicate with my coworkers on a daily basis. I currently use Microsoft Lync to communicate with my coworkers on team assignments, I use email to correspond between those in my office and I use Microsoft Dynamics CRM system to communicate with my processing team on difficult financial aide processing issues. I even check my email on my phone for work purposes when I know I am going to be out of the office. Even though technology has advantages to accessing new media at a faster rate, I do find that being able to access work from anywhere can be stressful. In the article The Impact of Technology on our Work and Family Lives, Judi Casey (2012) states, “A 2010 study found that more frequent use of ICT (information and communication technology) (computer, email, cell phones, Internet) results in being more effective at work, but also generates increases in work load and the pace of work demands. In a subsequent paper, 83% of workers indicated that ICT increases productivity, but 53% describe greater stress levels” (Casey, 2012). Since taking COM-500 last term and learning about the effects of technology and new media I have tried balancing the amount of time I am using new media on a daily basis.

Media reaches me indirectly through others on a daily basis. Each day in our morning standups our Financial Aide Communications Coordinator presents us with recent news stories. He then sends the news stories to us via email. My mother is also a new media fanatic on news events. I will admit I do not spend as much time as I should looking at news events globally, but I know almost everyday my mom will send me interesting news articles on world events through email. My boyfriend similarly uses new media to text me throughout the day to send me funny videos or pictures. New media indirectly impacts me through advertising that I see on Internet sites I visit daily. According to Curtis (2012) “After seeing thousands of persuasive advertising messages, we make buying decisions based on what we [see] in newspaper and magazine ads” (Curtis, 2012). I will admit that some of my buying and personal decisions have been made indirectly because of the advertising shown on new media websites.

Media influences my perspective on world events. I can clearly remember when I was in the 8th grade and the 9/11 World Trade Center attack occurred. I will remember that day vividly in my mind forever. Shortly after the attacks Al Qaeda and the Muslim race was portrayed negatively in society. According to the article Critical analysis of Islamphobia in the West and the Media Siraj (2012) states, “Reporters who cover the Muslim world often know very little details about it. The major factor that contributes to Islamic stereotyping in the West relates to the selection of words in media. Some common names heard or seen in the news about Muslims are “extremists” or “terrorists” (Siraj, 2012, p. 27). After viewing the way that Muslims were displayed in the media I was afraid of them. Since I was only in the 8th grade I did not have the tools and resources to view media events like I do now. I personally believe that our Western culture news reporters only briefly show news events to us. After taking my last course COM-500 I know how vitally important it is to research many news stories before making an opinion on a world event.

Media has the power to tell us what to think about and not what to think. Every day we are bombarded with news stories and advertising that agenda sets what we should think about. In 2014 the coverage of Robin Williams suicide caught my attention. There was many that called Robin “selfish” while others thought it was sad he was found dead because of suicide. One in particular was through TMZ, a celebrity news site that some may view as a “credible” news source. TMZ is not like Times, Boston Globe or the Wallstreet Journal but it is a source of media people turn to for information.  In the article Robin Williams ‘selfish’ for committing Suicide says Todd Bridges, TMZ staff (2014) state, “Robin Williams’ death had been reported for just minutes, when “Diff’rent Stroke” star Todd Bridges bashed Williams for committing suicide…calling it a “very selfish act” (TMZ, 2014). Those who are not media literate may look at this website and assume either one of two things: Todd Bridge is a mean person because he commented negatively on Robin William’s suicide, or Todd Bridge is correct for his comments. What if Todd Bridge didn’t even make this comment? This news story got us to think about Robin Williams as someone who committed suicide because he was selfish, relying on the media to tell us what to think about. It is extremely important for society to question the credibility of the media they are exposed to today and view media from multiple different viewpoints.

Media has the power to shape our beliefs over time. Most of society’s beliefs are cultivated over time through continued exposure, resulting in small but measureable effects. An example of exposure to media that shapes beliefs is the beautiful and handsome men and woman that are being plastered throughout media and advertisements today. This is having a slow but negative effect on young woman today. According to Curtis (2012) “Teenage obesity and anorexia have been identified in recent years as nationwide problems. Even while millions of adolescents presumably are fighting obesity, they are exposed to countless advertisements for fattening junk food juxtaposed against countless idealized images of successful people appearing thin” (Curtis, 2012). Since people are constantly exposed to media it is highly important for people to have strong interpersonal relationships outside of media influence to make ethical beliefs and decisions.

While media certainly has an effect on some of the items I purchase and some of the decisions I make; it would not make me jump off a bridge so to speak. Since I have the strong interpersonal relationships of my family and friends around me it helps me balance my decision making against the influence of media. Media can have both positive and negative influences on decision making. In order to be a media literate person in the 21st century you have to be able to have the fundamental skills of understanding media from multiple points of meaning. According to Baran (2015), “Learning to enjoy, understand and appreciate media content includes the ability to use multiple points of access—to approach media content from a variety of directions and derive it from many levels of meaning” (Baran, 2015, pp.22). Being media literate in the 21st century can help us from creating stereotypical dominant stereotypes in the 21st century.

Information revolutions in ways of knowledge changing have changed over time making the exchange of communication much easier. According to Kovach & Rosenstiel (2010) “Communication of shared knowledge and shared curiosity brought people together in larger and larger communities based on common ways of knowing. Each advance in form and efficiency was also a democratizing influence: As more people became more knowledgeable; they also became better able to question their world and the behavior of the people and institutions that directed their lives” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2010). With each advancement in technology and communication society was able and is still able to question the media and information they are receiving on a daily basis. This will be highly important in establishing media literacy against authority and conglomerate companies in the future.

The power of media has changed throughout history. Written communication allowed for words to be written down and not forgotten. The printing press allowed for many copies of written documents to be produced. The telegraph allowed for communication messages to travel across long distances, and the radio allowed for people to hear the news versus reading it (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2010). While these communication techniques all allowed for communication and media to be shared at a quicker pace, the introduction of cable television pushed the envelope on the power of media. “Unlike newspaper readers, television viewers could not pick and choose what they wanted to watch. They had to watch the programs as they were designed or turn them off” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2010). Since people can now access information faster with the television and the Internet today they are being more exposed to the power of media and what to think about while viewing media.

The similarity in information revolution is the ability for society to clearly see the world and authority figures around them easier. “Each advance in communications technology has made it easier to learn about the world around us, to more easily become involved, to challenge and even dismantle old authorities who once controlled the flow of information, and to create new authorities” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2010). The primary difference of media being accessed today is the ability to access news and media from virtually anywhere. “Previously with the exception of rare moments of breaking news on cable and some all-news radio, people acquired news primarily around the breakfast table…[this is] no longer. Websites began to chart news consumption throughout the day” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2010). With the tools and resources to access media at a quicker pace we have to now start looking at the reliability of our resources.

Works Cited

Baran, S. J. (2015). Introduction to Mass Communication: Media Literacy and Culture. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Casey, J. (2012, October 2). The Impact of Technology on Our Work and Family Lives. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judi-casey/the-impact-of-technology-_b_1932974.html

Curtis, A. R. (2012). Mass media influences on society. Retrieved April 26, 2015, from http://www2.uncp.edu/home/acurtis/Courses/ResourcesForCourses/PDFs/Mass_Media_Influence_on_Society.pdf

Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T. (2010). Blur: How to know what’s true in the age of information overload. New York: Bloomsbury.

Robin Williams ‘Selfish’ for Committing Suicide Says Todd Bridges. (2014, August 11). Retrieved March 26, 2015, from http://www.tmz.com/2014/08/11/robin-williams-suicide-dead-todd-bridges-twitter-selfish/

Siraj, S. A. (2012). Critical analysis of Islamphobia in the West and the Media. Global Media Journal Pakistan Edition, 5(1), 26-37.