How `Media` is continuously changing American society - Media Essay Example

How `Media` is continuously changing American society

            The emergence of new media has rapidly changed the face of mass communication production, distribution and reception - How `Media` is continuously changing American society introduction. And these changes are leaving an impact on the American society. The 21st century has come with its surprises. Thanks to the advent of new communication technology, media practitioners now have a new way of producing and disseminating information to mass audiences. These technologies include, but are not limited to, the internet, direct broadcast satellite, portable TV sets, mobile phones just to name a few.[1] Research interest in “new media” has continued to grow among social scientists over the last decade.[2] Communications satellites are amongst the most popular of these new devices. These allow broadcast signals to be transmitted back to the earth from space satellites. When we blend the current level of computer technology with wireless internet technology, the prospects for the social impact of new media seem awesome.[3]

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            Community and alternative media have a significant place in the American media landscape. It’s a strategic component when it comes to media democracy and that is because it leaves room for more strata of society to freely express themselves and their views. These media are independent of the commercial broadcast and print media. And this media is also closely tied to local governments and their policies. Americans are increasing gearing towards these media because they are more independent of the influence the major advertisers as well as the owners who tend to influence the content of other more commercial media. Some Americans are also wearied of the capitalistic tendencies of the mainstream media; as a result they tend to prefer something different. Community and alternative media have the tendency to portray some cultural and community values that the other media fail to highlight. And many of them also carry feature stories that have a human interest and hold the interest of the community at heart.

Independent media include those that are produced outside the mainstream commercial industry. This type of media has been in existence in the American society for several decades today. The lack of huge capital has tied down the growth of the independent media. That is because the commercial media industry has attracted capitalistic enterprises that have enough funds to create huge media conglomerates. The independent media industry in the U.S. can be described as the difference as the clash between commerce and art.[4] That’s because the independent media tend to promote a course, culture or society. Meanwhile the mainstream media have just one goal — profit making.

In Europe, for instance, the filmmaking industry has always viewed films more as cultural rather than commercial products. But the opposite is true with Hollywood. That’s the difference between independent media and commercial media. “From the very beginning, there were “films d’art,” which often documented great performers such as Bernhardt, Loie Fuller and Pavlova. Private patronage allowed many artists, including Man Ray, Picabia and Duchamp to create films. State-subsidized filmmaking provided the impetus for the careers of many European filmmakers, among them Ingmar Bergman, Francois Truffaut and the Taviani Brothers.”[5]

            Today, Independent Media Centers make up a large chunk of alternative journalism in America. These centers have been created because media owners have always sought to influence media content. As a result, these centers have continued to emerge in an effort to overturn the trends. Many American communities have now established alternative news outlets, such as African-American organizations, feminist groups, and various organizations. This is because these communities seek to bring some issues, which do not get enough coverage in the other media, to the light of day.

            The advent of the new media is changing and restructuring the American society. New media has made it possible for huge amounts of date to be accessible to many people thanks to new communication technologies. The way Americans receive and use information now has tremendously transformed when compared to a few decades back. “The new media are the result of technologies combining computers, laser discs, and telecommunications. Information can be stored, manipulated, and processed, then delivered visually to the user upon demand. The new media are fast, accurate, information rich, and responsive. They are based on inquiry and response. Interactivity is prime. So different and so much swifter are they than the old media that they are generically referred to as ‘hypermedia.’”[6] These media also give users a choice to choose what they want. On the internet, for example, consumers have a choice to choose which particular story they want to read about. But the traditional electronic media do not give consumers such a choice as to selecting particular news stories etc

            The new media also has a positive influence on community media and alternative media. And that’s good news for these sectors.  “The current media landscape is marked by a great fluidity. Inexpensive media, resulting from recent advances in video technology, have produced a greater ease and immediacy in media production. Cable access shows, which often have lower production values, and reality television programs – which often intentionally adopt a low-tech look – have engendered different attitudes in relation to technical requirements for mainstream media. And the media environment continues to evolve.”[7]

            The public has diverse viewpoints when it comes to the social impact of the media on Americans. But one thing is clear. The media do impact our life and society, be it negatively or positively.  Be it in newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, congressional sessions etc, charges and counter charges appear in discussions that focus on the impact of the media on society. And many parents and organizations are worried about the negative impact of media on the American society. These include violence, sex, crime, stereotypes and other sensitive subjects.[8]

            Today, public opinion is currently divided about the impact of viewing or reading erotic content on the Internet. Meanwhile most pornographic web sites have warning messages to under age users, many children, some of them in their early teens are visiting these sites and viewing these materials that can truly have a negative impact in their lives. In the 1970s and 80s, about half of respondents who were interviewed in surveys across America believed that erotic media content led people to commit rape. Meanwhile it might be difficult to prove this assertion in certain circumstances, one thing is clear. Children and even adults tend to copy things they view on TV. The agenda setting function of the media tend to push audiences to believe in the things and people they see on TV. And today, with the presence of the Internet, more Americans, of all ages, are exposed to erotic content. This pushes more young Americans, some of them teenagers, to believe in the importance of sex.[9] In this regard, the media, especially new media is helping to promote promiscuity in America. Looking at such point, it’s easy to conclude that the media is negatively changing the American society.

However, the new media is not just about a gloomy picture. The internet is also changing the face of America. This tool has created enormous opportunities for American students and scholars. The emergence of online libraries and journals present a wealth of opportunities for the exchange of knowledge that is vital for the growth of modern society. These libraries and other publications help to facilitate research for academics and individuals. The internet is home to a world of education and information. Today, it’s easy to quickly type in whatever you want to know about in a search engine and then see hundreds of pages for you to choose what information you need. The new media could be said to be positively changing the American society by educating the public.[10]

            In addition to its educative strength, the advent of new media, especially the internet has changed the face of modern business. Today, you no longer need to drive around town from shop to shop to purchase certain goods. All you need to do is log on to your computer and shop online. This is major source of income to many businesses. This medium does not only make it easier for consumers to buy their needs, but it also gives advertisers another forum to carry their messages to consumers. Online business is growing in America thanks to the coming of the internet. When we look at the opportunities that have been ushered in by the new media, it’s easy to play down the negative side.

            “We currently leave an electronic trail with our credit cards. Telemarketing firms interrupt us with phone calls and even messages on our computers; junk mail pours into our homes and offices, as mailing lists are rented or traded among those who wish to sell us new commodities. It is clear that once our information tastes are clearly identified, the marketing function will be set in motion to sell us more of what we are known to consume. For some, this is a good thing since it saves them the job of “shopping” for the additional informational commodity. For others, the very existence of solicitations on their computer screen or by phone or by mail will be seen at best as an annoyance and at worst as an invasion of privacy. ”[11]

            When it comes to information gathering and dissemination, the new media have truly changed the face of the American society. In addition to portable radio sets, consumers can conveniently follow the news via internet on their mobile phones. While some broadcasters notify their audience through text messages on their mobile phones about breaking news, other networks have made it possible for mobile phone users to follow the newscast view internet on their mobile phones. That’s an enormous opportunity to news hungry Americans. At first, Americans used to close work and then return home to switch on their TV and follow the day’s news. Now right at their work places, viewers have the choice to know what is happening using small portable gadgets.[12]

            The advent of new media like cell phones has helped the media to effectively carry out their surveillance function. Unlike before, cell phone users can get weather updates wherever they are directly into their phones, and this can help them to make the best decisions especially when there is bad weather forecast. This is of great importance to society as a whole. When the audience is warned about bad weather, there are always chances that more people will survive dangerous conditions such as floods and storms. Now we the advent of cell phones, users can be informed about breaking news events like floods, and then quickly make a life saving decision on which direction to take in order to get to safety.

            The new media have helped to restructure the American media industry. Prior to the advent of the less expensive news media, the American media industry was left in the hands of a few influential media moguls who could afford the capital to produce and market hundreds of thousands of copies of glossy color magazines. To start up a magazine was always a venture including several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many small organizations which had small running capital found it hard to market some justifiable courses they operate for. But the Internet has changed all that. There are millions of web sites around the country that advocate various courses, leaving the audience with a huge variety of choices. The advent of new media has, to an extent, helped to divert media control from the hands of few media moguls in this country.

            America has a heritage of democracy and freedom of the press. But at the same time, there is a long running history of regulation especially in the electronic media. In the past, there used to be scarce public resources. An example of such regulation was the broadcast spectrum which had a limit on the number of stations that could be on the air at without mutual interference. But the advent of new technology and the availability of resources have made it possible for the electronic media to operate with fewer regulations.

            It is true; the media is continuously changing the face of American society. And most of these changes are arising due to the new communication technologies that have been made available in the 21st century. The changes have two faces: one is negative and the other is positive. But it’s worth saying that the media have done more good than harm to the American society. The advent of new media has also helped to change the way American politics is conducted. Although presidential debates have been an old tradition in the race for the White House, things have slightly changed. There is a two way flow of information especially through the new debates that are hosted online by You tube. Voters now have the chance of sending their questions directly to Presidential hopefuls through the internet. But in the past it was not this way.

            The internet has also made it possible to the audience to react almost immediately to news events. What happens is that viewers are now given their chance to express their views about TV programs. There is more feedback now than in the past. The traditional media used to practice a one-way flow of communication, whereby members of the audience mostly had to do the listening and leave the talking to the media. However, that has changed today. More and more people find it easy to reply to mass communication messages, given that they no longer need to go and buy stamps and go to the post office as they did in the past. That used to be a barrier in traditional communication.

            New media have also gone a long way to develop some aspects of the American democratic model. More online publications and web sites means that even the minority have a chance to put across their viewpoints and opinions. In the past, mass communication was left in the hands of the rich and influential people in society. But today, the poor an underprivileged class can also advocate their view points through email messages that are disseminated by unorthodox means such as bulk messages and even online newsletters that are sent directly to people’s emails.

REFERENCES

Cordell, Arthur, (March-April 1991) “Preparing for the Challenges of the New Media,” The Futurist, Volume: 25, Issue: 2, PP.  22

Pavlik, John, (2001) Journalism and the New Media, PP. 42

Kessler, Lauren, (1984) The Dissident Press: Alternative Journalism in American History, PP. 42-45

Moore, John, (September-October 2005) “The Role Of New Media,” The Futurist, Volume: 25, Issue: 5

Rice, Ronald, (1984) The New Media: Communication, Research and Technology, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications

Williams, Frederick, (1983) The New Communications, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth

Wright, Charles, (1986) Mass Communication: A Sociological Perspective, New York: Random House

Chin, Daryl, (1994) “Independents: Notes on the Rise of Independent Media,”

http://www.experimentaltvcenter.org/history/people/ptext.php3?id=13&page=1

[1]Pavlik, John, (2001) Journalism and the New Media, PP. 42
[2] Rice, Ronald, (1984) The New Media: Communication, Research and Technology, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications
[3] Williams, Frederick, (1983)The New Communications, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
[4] Kessler, Lauren, (1984) The Dissident Press: Alternative Journalism in American History, PP. 42-45
[5]Chin, Daryl, (1994) “Independents: Notes on the Rise of Independent Media,”

http://www.experimentaltvcenter.org/history/people/ptext.php3?id=13&page=1

[6] Cordell,Arthur, March-April 1991) “Preparing for the Challenges of the New Media,” The Futurist, Volume: 25, Issue: 2, (PP.  22
[7]Chin, Daryl, (1994) “Independents: Notes on the Rise of Independent Media.”
[8] Wright, Charles, (1986) Mass Communication: A Sociological Perspective, New York :Random House, PP. 172
[9] Ibid, PP. 178
[10]Moore, John, (September-October 2005) “The Role Of New Media,” The Futurist, Volume: 25, Issue: 5, PP.  15
[11] Cordell, Arthur, (March-April 1991) “Preparing for the Challenges of the New Media,” The Futurist, Volume: 25, Issue: 2, PP.  23
[12] Ibid, PP. 12-15

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