The story I found most compelling was the one about Wal-Mart. In high school, I watched a movie about the growing corporation and it completely changed my view of the store. Ever since, I’ve always been interested in the power-house company. Before reading Good News: Local Journalism That Made a Difference, I knew Wal-Mart was a huge corporation that was full of scams and treated suppliers poorly, however, I didn’t realize how poorly they treat their own employees and how they build in such remote locations that are important to the environment. I thought it was interesting how Wal-Mart, “the world’s biggest corporation” (123) “violated minimum wage laws in the 1960s” (124). Why would such a large corporation that has already cut corners with suppliers, etc. pay their employees so little that they were paid below minimum wage? I found that ridiculous. I also thought it was sad to hear that “the average Chinese factory worker was paid about 40 cents an hour” (123) to make products Wal-Mart was buying. I feel as though Wal-Mart has too much power and continues to work in harmful ways. That’s why I was so happy to read about St. Petersburg where “citizens saved a wetland by stopping a proposed Wal-Mart store” (131). Media played a huge role in preventing the construction of this unnecessary Wal-Mart. One radio station, WMNF, broadcasted the beliefs of the “anti-Wal-Mart activists” while the St. Petersburg Times newspaper “criticized Wal-Mart but largely left out the activists in favor of government spokespeople” (131). Another newspaper, the Tampa Tribune, didn’t even bring up the issue until it was fixed. The varying types of media and bias played a big role in public awareness and opinion of the building of the Wal-Mart in St. Petersburg, which I also found interesting. One question I would ask Eesha Williams is are issues similar to the St. Petersburg Wal-Mart incident usually brought up in the media, or was this a rare incident? And how do you think the media can keep bias out of their reports?
Our interaction at South High relates to trends in globalization in a couple of ways. Globalization relates to the “growing interconnectedness and intensification of connections” as well as the “changing role of geography and physical distance” (326). At South High, we were able to connect with a different, more diverse community of kids. Although we did not share our technology from overseas, we did see communication through kids living nearby. We were able to view new ideas and were able to see different cultures through South High. As globalization describes, “culture becomes more accessible to larger numbers of people.” For example, I believe one of the students from South High was from somewhere in Africa. It was interesting to see and hear his point of view of our media presentations. South High enabled us to interact and view a variety of new content and cultures through media.
I learned a lot about cultural imperialism, the “global village”, and local cultures. First off, I had never really thought about cultural imperialism until I read this chapter. I didn’t realize how much American movies and U.S. productions impacted other countries. I knew “U.S. projects tend to have substantial budgets” (333), however, I did not realize that other countries don’t spend this kind of money on movies, etc. I also thought it was interesting how other countries chose to buy U.S. media products because it is cheaper than their own. I would have thought it would be the other way around – since America spends so much money on movies and television shows, wouldn’t those products cost more? Next, I thought the idea of a “global village” was interesting. McLuhan believes that “the airing of voices and knowledge can promote greater understanding between different nations and cultures” (329). I agree and disagree with this idea. I think it is important that everyone’s voice is heard. As McLuhan states, this would “extend the range of publicly available knowledge about many different areas and aspects of the world” (328). I somewhat disagree that these voices would lead to greater understanding. I think that a “global village” could lead to greater understanding at some point, however, I think it would create many arguments and misunderstandings too. And as of right now, the only voices that are really heard are those of the large media corporations. Last, I learned that local cultures is a strategy corporations use “by exporting the U.S. model while adapting it to local conditions” (338). I thought this was interesting, as I had never thought about this before either. Companies like MTV are able to reach more people in different countries through creating multiple parts such as “MTV Africa” and “MTV Asia” (338). This causes more people to tune into MTV because they can relate to this channel more than other Western oriented shows.
I also learned a lot about politics of information and global media regulation. I think that politics of information is an important aspect of media. I thought it was interesting how “the idea that information should flow freely across national boundaries sounds benign to Western ears, many developing countries came to understand it as privileging the ‘First World’s’ market-driven perspective of information flow” (340). I do think the government should have some say in the media, however, the extent of their involvement may vary. I think under-developed countries want more of a balance between Western news and their local news. Also, global media regulation is an important aspect of the media. I never realized how difficult it must be to regulate “media ownership and programming extending beyond national borders” (344). How do you decide who regulates the media when the media becomes global? I did not find it surprising that “national governments and international organizations are feeling increased pressure from global media conglomerates and transnational private capital” (344). The conglomerates want to have global media regulation to increase their influence and power in the media industry. I also thought it was interesting how some people are “advocating for a more democratic media and creating their own independent media” (345). I believe the issue of global media regulation can relate to several other topics we have learned about in class.
My experience at South High does not make me want to change my video essay. My group and I made a video essay about the active audience theory and discussed how a variety of factors such as background, age, culture, etc. can influence how people interpret certain media. I think we demonstrated this in our video and the kids at South High helped advocate how several people may have different interpretations about the media.
The most compelling theory to me is the active audience theory because I find it to be one of the most important and realistic theories. Often times, the audience is viewed as passive and unresponsive. This grabbed my attention because I had never really thought about this before. When I talk about media and the audience, I often think of the audience as an unreceptive group of people, or a group that unanimously understands the media in the same way. However, the idea of an active audience thinks of “audiences as active readers rather than passive recipients” (256), which I believe is more accurate and true to reality. There are three ways that audiences have played a more dynamic role in media. Those ways are “through individual interpretation of media products, through collective interpretation of media, and through collective political action” (257).
Individual interpretation of media is the way in which an audience member understands a message given off from media. Although it may seem like some media messages are clear-cut, not all are. Everyone thinks differently, and therefore, interprets the media in different ways. It’s important for producers to know that “there is no guarantee that producers will get their message across in the ways they want” (258). The varying backgrounds and knowledge of the audience may alter what the producer was intending to say.
Collective interpretation of media is the idea that audiences “interpret media messages socially” (258). I also found this very interesting because I have never really thought about it before. I almost always watch movies or tv shows with someone else and often discuss what happened on the last episode of some tv show with my friends. It’s interesting to notice how much media takes a role in one’s social life. The idea that a large part of media takes place socially further proves “that audiences are far from passive” (258).
Collective political action is the idea that the audience will come together to try to alter parts of the media. Not only do these groups strive to change the media, they are able to “produce and distribute independent media” (259). Audiences that seek to alter the media and create new media and new ideas are clearly an active audience.
The active audience theory compensates for the idea that most of the time, the “discussion of media effects ignores living, breathing human beings” (255). The audience is viewed as a passive individual when really, we are not always mindless listeners. This theory gives the audience a louder voice and ability to play an active role in the media.
Free Press is a nonprofit association that is striving to change the media. This group wants a more liberated and varied media industry in the United States. Free Press believes this is an important issue because they think the news plays an important role in showing and shaping how the people view the world today. They believe the media has immoral policies and are seeking to change these policies with the help of the public. They are trying to give the public a voice in the media industry.
Chapter 3 discusses issues similar to the topics Free Press is fighting. One topic brought up in this chapter is “Regulating Ownership of Programming.” (pg. 86). This section describes one of the most debated issues in the media: “government protection of the ownership of media products.” Media industries can now have rights to all network programming, creating vertical integration. This problem can help explain why the people in the Free Press association do what they do. These people believe the media industry needs to be more “diverse and independent” and with media corporations having control over all aspects of a production creates a less diverse and independent industry. They want to constrain these growing media corporations and have a more liberated media industry.
One issue Free Press has addressed includes network neutrality. I think this is an important topic – the public should have the right to chose where, when, and what they do on the internet. One question I would like to ask the free press director is how did this idea come about and why do you think several American’s don’t know this is occurring or even a possibility? I had never heard of network neutrality until reading “Media/Society” and visiting the Free Press website. How can we get this information spread so that there are more Americans fighting for their rights to access the internet whenever they want and wherever they want?
“Forrest Gump” is a heartwarming movie created in the ’90s about the life of the kindhearted man named Forrest Gump who lived (I believe) around the ’70s. As Forrest describes his life story to passerby’s, he reveals a variety of biases about American culture. The first bias I noticed about American culture through this film was the importance of presidents and the favor of or dislike towards several presidents. At the start of the film, Forrest meets president Kennedy. Kennedy is shown in a positive light, which reflects the bias working in favor of American politicians. The positive light shed over Kennedy depicts the support for politicians similar to him. However, about halfway through the film, Forrest meets President Nixon and unknowingly reveals the Watergate Scandal. Nixon is shed in a negative light, portraying the public’s distaste of him at this time. However, I do think this shows the American bias of trust put within a person of power. This bias favors politicians as well, showing how although Nixon made this terrible mistake, other leaders will rule better. Forrest also meets president Johnson to receive a medal of honor after serving in the army in the Vietnam War. This incident obviously portrays politicians in a positive light as well. I think the variety of politicians shown in this film demonstrate how Americans privilege presidents over other people in power, and how the biases about politicians usually work in favor of the presidents and American politics in general.
I also think Forrest Gump shows the American bias towards the military. In American culture, joining the army is often viewed as an honorable position, taking the risk to serve our country. I think the American army is viewed exactly like this in “Forrest Gump.” In the film, the bias favors the army. Forrest meets some lifelong friends in the army, such as Bubba and Dan. And as a soldier Forrest is seen as a brave savior, which is how the military wants the American culture to view their group. The more positive the military appears, the more people that will join.
The final bias I believe “Forrest Gump” demonstrates is the American bias towards sports. Americans typically spend much of their time playing or watching sports. Throughout the movie, Forrest is very skilled in the sports he participates in. Earlier in his childhood, Forrest is a star on his high school football team, and later on he gains a real knack for ping pong and running. I think sports programs benefit from this bias. Watching Forrest perform all of these sports at such amazing levels makes viewers want to watch and see these sports in real life.
Other examples that depict similar biases include “The Hurt Locker” and “Valkyrie.” Both show the bias of the military and politicians. I never realized how media reflects the biases of society and how media alters the way we look at the world. Media ideology has definitely opened my eyes!
This past summer, my family and I traveled to Spain. I’ve been taking Spanish for six years now and had always wanted to travel to a Spanish speaking country to see just how well I could communicate with the natives. It all started when we first got on the connecting flight to Barcelona. Everything on the plane had two labels – English and Spanish. My brother, Josh, and I decided to make a game out of it. While on the plane, we could only read and talk to one another in Spanish. I knew Josh would be much better at this than I was. As Davidson describes in her essay, Josh is a hardworking, intelligent kid who receives “A’s and even A+ grades in every class, always taking the most difficult courses, earning perfect scores on tests, and doing lots of extracurricular work, too” (pg. 64). His hard work had paid off – he was at a much higher level than I was. When Davidson says “you don’t get an A or an F on life’s existential report card” (pg. 109) it reminded me of how much more important it is to actually understand the information given to you in class than it is to just try and memorize the Spanish vocabulary and get an A in the class, which, unlike Josh, I have usually done.
Once we arrived in Spain, I was lost for words. Josh and I could read a majority of the signs, but when it came to speaking and listening to the natives we were usually confused. Often times, we would take turns trying to talk to the Spaniards. The first time, Josh and my dad would speak with the tourist information worker; the next time, my mom and I would speak with the hotel workers. (Neither one of my parents speaks Spanish). When Davidson says crowdsourcing “assumes that no one of us individually is smarter than all of us collectively” (pg. 65) this definitely sums up one of the things I learned in Spain. When Josh and I spoke and listened to the Spaniards together, we were able to understand what was going on and reply. This came as somewhat of a surprise to me because Josh was at a higher Spanish level, so I assumed he would be better off without me asking what every other word spoken was. Being in Spain also taught me how to judge the quality of my learning. Often times in Spanish, I would avoid speaking Spanish unless the teacher was nearby or I had to answer a question. I realized I needed to take control by improving the quality of my learning through speaking Spanish the whole time I am in the class.
In Spain, while Josh and I spoke with the natives, we would often forget common vocabulary words and whip out our iPhones to quick translate for us. Technology definitely played an important role in helping us speak with the Spaniards. Even though as Spanish students we are often taught not to use translators, they were very useful when it came to the real life situation. My experiences in Spain taught me so much and I couldn’t have asked for a better time there.
In terms of this class, I think an appropriate boss-level challenge would be to have two of the same or similar assignments where we have to figure out a different way to complete each assignment. For example, maybe we are given a topic with two viewpoints – the first time we have to reply saying what we believe in, the next time we have to fight for the other side. Reading apart of Davidson’s book has taught me a lot about the importance of change, technology, and learning and I can’t wait to apply her ideas in class.