Media shapes our views

Have you ever thought about how much popular culture (movies, music, news, media, ect.) influences the way we view the world? These mediums have a powerful effect on us.

This is particularly true for news, which functions under two assumptions: that we rely on news to give us information about important current events, and that the stories contained therein reflect reality.

Perhaps the most powerful medium of news is television because unlike a newspaper, television news contains audible voices and moving images, giving it an added touch of reality – and less time to reflect on what is being said.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is the worth of a moving, speaking image?

So what does this mean?

It means that individuals have a responsibility as consumers of media.

If we truly expect the media to accurately reflect important current events, then we must be able to think critically about the messages they are sending and be willing to put our dollars into stations that accomplish this.

Too often, our culture screams for more of what it doesn’t need: we are glued to the screen by the Britney Spears wedding gone awry and images of Michael Jackson on top of his van for a photo op before his court case on sexual abuse. Meanwhile, important questions that directly affect our individual lives go ignored or unanswered.

What the media leaves out is just as important as what it includes. During the recent war in Iraq, one Arabic television news station referred to Operation Iraqi Freedom as “War for Oil.” If we only watch the Arabic news station, we are likely to assume that the U.S. has only one goal in the war: to control Iraqi oil.

Likewise, on the day Saddam was captured, an American news station continuoulsly repeated the same two 20-to-30 second clips of Iraqis celebrating in the streets while reporters spoke about the events in the forefront of the screen. If the Iraqi celebrations are the only thing we see, we are likely to assume that the vast majority of Iraqis were overwhelmingly happy about the U.S. capture of Saddam.

Both of these assumptions are based on just a few moments of the same message repeated over an extended period of time.

Therefore, as consumers of media, we must request news that reflects many sides of the same issue, that gives credible sources for the information presented, and that gives ample consideration to important issues rather than spending a great deal of time on, well, Michael’s mug shot.