Societysociety Essay, Research Paper
Marc Wallin Wallin #
Mass Comm. 110
The Positive Benefits of Mass Communications to Humanity
Mass communications, like anything for humans, has its advantages and disadvantages, but mass media has far more advantages to offer the world. From taking you to a far off land to teaching you about the intricacies of the life inside a colony of ants, to surfing the Internet for a new chat group to join, we learn and experience things and events that no humans ever before in history have experienced through this miracle we call mass media. In the next few pages we will explore the multifaceted and unique areas of the public?s perception of mass media, the educational value of the media, and the Internet as a new mass medium.
The public has always had an interesting relationship with mass media because it is the public that is breaths life into this organism called the mass media machine. From the earliest time periods in human history mass media was communicated through ?word of mouth,? and it was that very relationship that spawned small town gossip in the middle ages , where information like what the local lord was doing and if he was hanging anyone that week for insubordination. Word of mouth continued until the invention of the printing press in 1436 when the news of the town could be told and recorded forever. A present-day survey taken about what the public?s view on the media is from the article, ?Who Do You Trust and Why?,? by Joe Saltzman says that ?… the public?s use and view of its media, shows that word of mouth is less trusted than CNN, public television news, local television news, and prime-time TV news magazines. News anchors American?s see on television are considered more reliable as sources of accurate information than personal acquaintances? (par 3). This article shows that after the advent of the press people find that a recognized news source rather than a personal contact is trusted more. People feel that
they can trust someone as long as he stays credible and they feel positive because of that fact. Another positive benefit that modern people have as opposed to their ancient counterparts is that citizens who get their information from trusted sources as CNN, local news casts, public television news, and TV news magazines usually end up better informed and more accurately informed than those ancient immigrants and peasants from their word of mouth reporting (Saltzman, par 11).
Still connected to the public?s feelings on mass media today we come to a recent survey of young adults which is also a very quickly informed and Internet savvy group. The survey, ?Survey Asks Young Adults About Media Use,? of 22 to 34 year olds by BBDO New York in a periodical called,The Quill , tells about some positive ways that media affect people. In one quote describing the Internet’s impact it says, ?The young adults used the Internet for escape and mental stimulation and to obtain specific information on travel, business and health issues. Users were perceived positively as young career-oriented adults. The Internet produced feelings of innovation, intelligence, creativity, power and accomplishment? (par 2). It goes on to say that, ?Reading magazines gave respondents feeling of sexiness, self-esteem, luxury and creativity? (par 3), ?Television gave respondents feeling of happiness, comfort and fun? (par 4), ?Radio listening provided a feeling of peacefulness, relaxation, inner harmony and youthfulness? (par 5), and lastly ?Newspapers gave respondents feelings of tradition, stability, security, maturity, respect and intelligence? (par 6). This shows that with all mediums there are many benefits of informing, comforting, and reaching your full potential and self-fulfillment.
Leading into a much undiscussed area of the media: education through media. This
is often times not mentioned as one of the most fulfilling and life rewarding part of media. All to often this is swept under the rug of positive areas to note because, lets just face it, our culture is an entertainment oriented lifestyle, so education through media doesn?t get the admiration and respect it ultimately deserves. From the article, ?Media Education? by Marjorie Hogan we find that if the public is media-literate in how to break-down the content of the media and read what messages each presentation and advertisement is telling us,
rather than taking something at its ?face value?, then the public will be able to make better choices and educate their children about the messages of all media, and thereby control their children?s exposure to potentially harmful media (Hogan, par 7).
Other effects of educational programming such as, Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, and for older kids documentaries from public TV, channels like A&E, The History Channel, and The Discovery Channel have been shown by an article by Aletha C. Huston and John C. Wright, called ?Television and the Informational and Educational Needs of Children,? showed that the television medium has a positive effect on children?s education process. In 1990 the article says that the Children?s Television Act was passed requiring all broadcast stations to provide programing that, ?meets the educational and informational needs of children and youths? (Huston, par 2). The fact that this was passes meant that during the daytime there stations had to play a minimum of three hours of educational media a day (Huston, par 2). This was a very positive outcome and in the 1960?s Sesame Street was formed which through the years has had a very positive impact for children in their early preschool and school years (Huston, par 5). Sesame street helped to educate the urban poor in the inner cities that normally wouldn?t have the opportunity to gain a quality education like their suburban counterparts who have better access. Since the passing of the Children?s Television Act the number of educational programming has increased ten-fold.
These programs have led to children having, according to Huston and Wright, ?…social skills, (for example, cooperation, conflict resolution, knowledge about different cultures), emotional development (for example, understanding feelings), creativity, language and literacy, positive attitudes about learning, critical thinking, problem solving, quantitative skills, cognitive skills (for example, inference, concept formation), and knowledge about the arts, history, social science, and natural science (Neapolitan and Huston 1994)? (par 11). Interestingly enough these are all things, together with books read while young, that gave me an upper edge on my classmates in reading and critical thinking as well as giving me a curiosity and longing for a lifelong quest of knowledge.
Some other interesting facts found during an educational study done by the
Educational Testing Service in 1971 were that out of two groups: a control group that was unchecked and not encouraged to view and an experimental group that was. The children in the experimental group gained more than those in the control group in their grasp of specific skills and comprehension of vocabulary (Huston, Wright, par 13). In another study called the Early Window Project, it was found that, ?…children who frequently watched educational programs (including Sesame Street) when they were aged 2-4 performed better than infrequent viewers on tests of school readiness and vocabulary at age 5, again with extensive controls for initial language ability and characteristics of the home environment (Wright and Huston 1995)? (Huston, Wright, par 15). This just makes common sense kids who get more education from television show an improvement from their peers who don?t. Huston and Wright go on to list several more studies in following years that illustrate in their report that television?s place as a positive media tool is cemented for all humanity, and lays waste claims to the contrary calling TV media a negative and ?vast wasteland? suitable for only zombies to zone out to. Children can learn concepts and facts thereby generalizing what they learn; they can also travel through time and space grasping the fullness of humanity?s span through the ages (Huston, Wright, par 38). We as a society should be
working with mass media to teach our children all the things they will need to know in the new electronic age.
The electronic age is one filled with ambiguity because so much lies within our reach that at times it?s overwhelming. Presently most colleges and universities are filled with computer systems and the new reference librarians have it easier than their ancient counterparts, they can locate info at a faster rate and keep it more readily available, which all help improve reference service immeasurably. This is but one aspect of this new Internet age. One filled with life enriching and tumultuous times ahead. In an article, ?The Net-Setters,? Neal Gabler goes on to explain how the net-savvy people of today rival the early Jet-Setters of the 1960?s. Gabler says, ?…what they live is the cyberlife–more thrilling to many than the old high life of the jet-setters because it has more variety. In cyberspace, there are virtually no limits to what you can purport to do? (par 3). The thing is with the
Internet there is so much locked away potential that know one can avoid hearing of it. It?s recognized that the Internet is the future yet there is much ambiguity to where it will truly go and how it will be used. The Internet is a forced to be dealt with, but it is sure to serve humanity much as its precursors of media have, to learn from and aid the greater dissemination of information to all in this new fast-paced information super age.
All things discussed, public perception of mass media by having and making our lives more comfortable and more informed, educational value of media by helping our children to grasp concepts and skills, and the computer/Internet revolution by expanding our minds to boundless possibilities have all made impacts on who we are as humans and what we will become in the future as we progress through the ages. Hopefully mass media will last several more hundred years being that mass media is only fairly recent when human history is considered.
Gabler, Neal. ?The Net-Setters.? The Los Angeles Times 27 June 1999: 3 pgs. 22
March 2000 Online Proquest.
Hogan, Majorie, ?Media Education.? Pediatrics Aug. 1999 22 March 2000 Online Proquest.
Huston, Aletha C. ?Television and the Informational and Educational Needs of Children.?
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science May 1998: 9-23.
22 March 2000 Online Proquest.
Saltzman, Joe. ?Why Do You Trust and Why.? USA Today Jan. 2000: p. 59 22 March
2000 Online Infotrac.
?Survey Asks Young Adults About Media Use.? The Quill Jan. 2000: p. 7 22 March 2000