воскресенье, 30 ноября 2014 г.

Journalism Essay

Привет! Две недели назад у нас по предмету Media and Society было задание - Term paper - что-то типа небольшой research essay, выбрать топик на журналистскую тему и полно раскрыть его используя посторонние источники. Так вот, мне сегодня пришла оценка - А (пятерочка!), и я решила поделиться с вами своим "исследованием". Комментарий моего препода можете посмотреть в паблике Вконтакте. Вставляю сюда все прямо как в документе Ворд было, с citations в конце. Enjoy!

Are Americans passive media consumers?

News media sources, such as TV channels, newspapers and websites constantly provide people with information about events that are happening right now. There are always several sides to the stories shown on TV or written about in newspapers. However, most United States mass media companies usually choose the side people would want to hear most. Over the years of receiving only pieces of trustworthy information about important events, American audience grew to just accept one side of reality and became less media-literate.

I have been observing the way Americans my age react to events worldwide, treat the existence of news programs and justify their claims and opinions about certain political events. What I noticed was that very few Americans actually consume political news media, as opposed to how many follow updates about celebrities or sports. Often they do not know about some crucial incidents in the world. They have already formed an opinion about politics that is quite vague, based on what they might have heard from their parents or teachers. Young Americans are the generation of passive media consumption when it comes to world politics, mostly because they believe those events do not directly affect them. However, when there is a lot of coverage of an event on multiple media sources, discussions start. Sadly, most of the time the newly emerged active media consumption is heavily influenced by Americans’ own assumptions and early conclusions, which are caused by only knowing one side of the story or relying on stereotypes. That way, falsified news spreads among the population creating biased opinions about certain political figures or places in the world. For example, most Americans’ thoughts on the conflict in Ukraine or Ebola epidemic in Africa would generally be negative and very similar to one another: reasons for that are lack of diversity in news sources, less media-literacy, no interest in doing personal detailed research using different information channels and already existing perceptions about particular topics, nations, cultures, races, etc. Going back to the examples mentioned above, there is already a way Russian president Vladimir Putin is viewed by in the US, so no matter what his future actions will be, he will continue being a “political villain.” Same with the deadly Ebola situation on the African continent: the American vision of an African will remain a stereotype: a dirty, uneducated, unhealthy black man living in the jungle, in conditions where diseases spread rather fast. These biased opinions seem to have become a social norm in America and young adults like me are most influenced by those. Children of the next generation risk being even more “media-ignorant.” For instance, statistics show that over 5 million US teens do not know history behind the Independence Day! (Libaw 1)

What could be the reasons of both media literacy and interest in world politics declining among American teenagers? One of the main ones is localism, which was already mentioned: if the events do not have a direct influence on Americans, they are likely to not pay attention to that news. That is why a vast majority of news channels today show news about a particular area or state for their local audiences to know what is happening nearby. As professor Lawrence Davidson said in his article about American ignorance, “If something non-local happens that is brought to their attention by the media, they will passively accept government explanations and simplistic solutions. The primary issue is ‘does it impact my life?’” (Davidson 2). Localism has become a big part of the American society, shaping Americans’ views and level of media literacy.

Another important reason for Americans’ media passiveness is their knowledge of geography, a science that is directly connected to history. Knowing it is essential to understand cultural aspects of some nations and therefore be aware of and acknowledge reasons and roots of international problems in the modern world. Rick Shenkman talked about the differences of Europeans’ and Americans’ geography knowledge in his book “Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth about the American Voter,” blaming the USA’s location: the country is stretched far from east to west on the continent, while European countries are tiny and there is a greater population concentration on a smaller area. Nevertheless, it was quite a shock for me to see that some of my American friends do not know where Russia was on the map. Or, coming back again to the Ukraine situation, 84 percent of Americans were not able to find Ukraine on the world map, according to an article on Washington Post (Dropp, Ketzer, Zeitzoff 3).

Finally, the common US ideology and bureaucracy are crucial to the way Americans consume media nowadays. The widespread opinion about the USA being the “peacekeeper of the world” is so deep in Americans’ mindsets, it does not allow them to take some news with a grain of salt or listen to criticism from people of different countries that often have a more accurate outsider’s perspective. “In effect, a closely adhered to ideology becomes a mental locality with limits and borders just as real as those of geography. In fact, if we consider nationalism a pervasive modern ideology, there is a direct connection between the boundaries induced in the mind and those on the ground” (Davidson 4). The American opinion and belief system has been forming for years, influenced by the government, world events such as the two World Wars, passed on to younger generations by parents. The patriotic ideas are so deep in the basis of the American society that many Americans make jokes about themselves and their ignorance when consuming news about events abroad.

The evidence for American declined media literacy is quite overwhelming. Numerous reasons why people in the US are by default passive media consumers include the American ideology, geographical location of the country, their school education with so-called “critical thinking” encouraged a little too much, and localism, or inability to go outside of the comfort zone in terms of obtaining knowledge, becoming media literate, etc. Even though there is an emergence of a number of independent journalism sources that promote open-mindedness, America still remains a place that needs improvement on the media literacy part. 

Works Cited

1. Libaw, Oliver. “Poll: Many Teens Don't Know July 4 History”. abcnews.go.com. July 4, 2014.
2. Davidson, Lawrence. “The Whys of American Ignorance.” consortiumnews.com. April 6, 2013.
3. Dropp, Kyle. Ketzer, Joshua.  Zeitzoff, Thomas. “The less Americans know about Ukraine’s location, the more they want U.S. to intervene”. washingtonpost.com. April 7, 2014.

4. Davidson, Lawrence. “The Whys of American Ignorance.” consortiumnews.com. April 6, 2013.

Вот такое вот эссе! Надеюсь вам понравилось и вы узнали что-то новое. Всем удачи и хорошего настроения,

2 комментария:

  1. Great essay!!! I realy liked it) No wonder you got A :) Btw, i like your blog) It is wonderful! There are a lot of interesting and useful information)

  2. Thanks for sharing! Nice post!
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