I found the article on the History of the U.S. Movement to Protect Open Space the most compelling, because I have always been very interested in environmentalism and activist movements. This article focuses on the history of Open Space preservation, and the methods organizations have utilized to gain public support and accomplish their goals. I found it interesting that the earliest Environmental Protection Agencies were run primarily by wealthy men, and it was also interesting to read about how the structure and function of these organizations h over time with increasing support from the public.
The “Movement to Save the Headwaters Forest in California” was a very applicable case study to read in regards to the media. This movement occurred in the 1990s, and media coverage played a critical role in the successful logging ban in the area. Activism groups stated that media coverage was critical for gaining support for rallies, as well as for raising money for legal and political disagreements. Protesters did find, however, that some media outlets showed biased and one-sided coverage of the Movement, with some newspapers lacking any quotes from the activist cause in their articles. One newspaper even claimed that “non-violent civil disobedience is counterproductive,” without ever considering prominent success stories such as Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi.
While the media’s coverage of the event could have skewed the outcome drastically, overall, leaders from the activist side believed that media did make their victory possible. I found it very interesting how much influence media networks can have on the outcome of an event, simply by the choice of content they choose to cover. While news is supposed to be purely objective, this case study highlights the brutal truth of media’s often unavoidable bias.
I would like to ask Eesha Williams how young adults and college students can make the biggest difference in the media industry for causes they support. Is there a specific approach to lobbying for fair and unbiased media that is most effective?
At South High, a school that is very culturally aware and diverse, our presentations, with some exceptions, were given by primarily white, American students. Although we spoke about global issues such as minority representation in the media and horizontal integration, the majority of our perspectives are from a primarily white, privileged background.
Our time spent at South High, however, also highlighted how electronic media can be used as a tool for globalization, bringing global awareness across great distances through use of the Internet and of YouTube. For example, many of our video essays used clips from You Tube and information from Facebook and Twitter to support global ideas of media conglomeration. The ability to see a clip from Sri Lanka or the Arab Spring would have been impossible in the past, and this advancement in electronic media has changed how people can view the world.
Cultural imperialism encompasses the argument that media products flow primarily from “the West,” or America, influencing Eastern culture with little input from other, less wealthy nations. The term seems to highlight the possibility of “domination,” and suggests that the media industry in wealthy nations has such a large influence over the rest of the world that topics are being skewed and ideas misrepresented and misinterpreted (a very definite possibility).
I found the ideas of the “global village” very intriguing as well – the possibility that the media holds to unite nations shows great possibility for peacemaking and global understanding. However, as the reality of the “global village” is considered, it is seen that this promise is largely unrealistic – the largest and most influential media organizations are born from wealthy, powerful countries – giving little voice and making little difference for smaller, poorer nations of the world. This reality has led to a “homogenization of culture,” and a loss of local cultural awareness. As long as the wealthiest nations hold them most power in the media world, a true “global village” will never be realized.
The League of Nations’ view on globalization as a tool to increase peace and understanding is an excellent way to guide future thoughts and decisions regarding globalized media. While underrepresentation of underdeveloped countries is still an issue, the politics of information flow has the possibility to unite countries in the future. Global media regulation could aid in this process – while media corporations undoubtedly hold huge influence over government protocol, organizations such as Free Press are setting good examples for the future of fair and diverse media.
After reading this chapter and showing my video at South High, I would like to include more perspectives in my video essay, if possible. I think it would be beneficial to focus on the prevalence and use of media in underdeveloped countries as well, instead of only focusing on how media is influencing activism in the United States.
I would like to focus on Media Ecology in my video essay. Media Ecology explores the relationship between humans, and considers the different ways that humans interact with each other and with the media. I want to explore how technological determinism is playing a role in the environmental movement, both in terms of how information is being conveyed to the public and whether or not this process is beneficial or negative to society. I want to look at how the media is affecting our understanding of environmentalism, and whether or not it is increasing awareness of issues or de-sensitizing us due to over-exposure. I’ll explore how the environmental movement would be different without technology, and also think about the ways that the media has gotten people interested in this issue. Social media may also be interesting to consider; it tends to play a very large role in activist causes.
I think Media Ecology is a good theory to focus on when considering media’s role in the environmental movement because environmental issues deal heavily with how society is changing and being affected by its surroundings. Media ecology focuses on how people and technology interact to produce change in the world, and also explores how media is changing how society thinks or behaves. The environmental movement relies completely on society’s perception and understanding of climate change and anthropogenic effects in nature, and therefore, a theory focusing on how people and media interact to produce a greater outcome seems like the best approach.
After reading about the four theories outlined in these chapters, I find myself most interested in active audiences and the construction of meaning. I would love to learn more about this area of study because in the future, I hope to combine my interests in media and science to convey environmental issues to the public. I believe that how a message is conveyed to a larger audience is crucial for the success of an idea, and understanding how audiences interpret media messages are an important part of accomplishing this goal.
It is necessary to understand how the public interprets the media in order to predict the reaction that a certain media campaign will have: “Sometimes there will be a very close correspondence between the intended meaning and the ways a particular audience interprets the message” (Croteau, 258). The idea first arose that audiences are active “in opposition to the notion of all-encompassing domination” (Croteau, 256) – in other words, that the media has an all-empowering influence over society, and that individuals must take all information conveyed at face value. Once it is realized that audiences are in fact very active, with the ability to intelligently consider and interact with media messages, the conversation surrounding the construction of meaning becomes far more complex and relevant. Audience activity can determine how successful a media pursuit will be, and can also result in surprising success in a political or social movement in society.
From public protests to lobbying and publicity campaigns, the “collective action” of an audience can make or break a media platform. The number of people in society that experience media on a daily basis is huge, and the unpredictable nature of human behavior often makes it hard to determine the outcome of how a message will be conveyed. While some attempts fail, it is also possible for the media have an enormously positive effect on a population. Pepsi, for example, has started the “Refresh” project, which promotes wellbeing in society through audience interaction. Individuals can submit videos of what they want to change in their community, and Pepsi selects a few each year to support. The “Refresh” campaign connects the image of Pepsi to a benevolent cause, and promotes their product at the same time. By targeting what an audience will support, Pepsi has advertised their name and positively influenced society.
While I am definitely the most interested in active audiences and the construction of meaning theory, it is also important to consider how the other three theories play into the success of the media as a whole. Media effects on individuals teaches us how visuals and images can enhance an image or specific message, and culturally, media ecology can inform us how to adjust a message so that it applies to different individuals. I hope to draw upon these other approaches when considering active audiences.
The Free Press is a national organization aimed at keeping media fair and reforming flaws that present themselves within the media world. These reforms range from media ownership and independent media business to issues concerning who can access the media. The Free Press realizes what a huge impact media has on society, and also recognizes the vast power media organizations have over deciding how information is presented to the public. The Free Press explores how information is presented in educational, political, and entertainment realms, and believes that no matter what issue a individual is passionate about, media reform is crucial in order to get that message presented in a logical and effective manner.
As stated in “Media/Society,” vast changes in the media world have occurred in the last century. Not only can media now reach millions of people through broadcast news and the Internet, ownership patterns within media organizations have shifted dramatically. “Investment capital to produce media is enormous” (83), and with this economic trend, organizations, such as Disney and Time Warner, have power to gain influence over huge portions of the industry. The Free Press works in order to give the public a voice; to compensate for the enormity of power that media industries have in the present day.
An issue that the Free Press has addressed is Internet accessibility and censorship. They state that “Free Press works to promote high-speed Internet that is accessible, affordable and open — regardless of technology,” and they are also exploring ways to encourage competition within the Internet industry. Net neutrality, which focuses on stopping censorship and restrictions from Internet providers, is one issue that Free Press is focusing on predominantly at the moment.
Some questions I would like to ask the Free Press director include, how does the Free Press determine what is in most need of “change” in the media world? Is there a system in place that determines what percent of the organization’s resources should go towards each reform project? I understand that your organization works to give the public a voice in media reform, but how do we (the public) influence these decisions directly?
During the past few years, the environmental movement has begun to grow drastically in the United States. Many activist groups have emerged and are loudly voicing their opinions on the negative impact that humans are having on the environment. Efforts to “Go Green” have been utilized in every aspect of society, including businesses attempting to frame their marketing schemes around the movement and these ideals. Mass media has also been swept up in environmentalism; like any economic business model, the media focuses on what interests the people.
After watching the movie “Avatar,” it quickly becomes apparent that the film contains strong ideological statements concerning the environmental movement. Although at first glance “Avatar” appears to be an action movie and perhaps purely a fantasy, it is laden with strong messages that reflect a large portion of modern day beliefs. When humans invade Pandora, the fictional planet where “Avatar” is set, they begin destroying the landscape and habitats for their own gain of natural resources – a shockingly similar storyline to the controversial real-world issues of resource use, from fossil fuel drilling in the Middle East to deforestation in the Amazon.
“Avatar” explores the emotional storylines of the Na’vi, whose tree homes are being destroyed by the human inhabitants. Like the endangered plants and animals of the real world, “Avatar” highlights the inability of nature to survive catastrophic destruction. The emotion portrayed through the Na’vi people, as well as the magical and beautiful portrayal of Pandora, are clear illustrations of environmental ideals, and effectively comment on how important it is to limit human intrusion and destruction in the natural world.
As seen in Avatar, American audiences are attracted to movies that are relatable to real-world issues. I think it’s often easier to consider complex, controversial problems in a non-real setting, such as a movie or TV show. When one considers his or her stance on a fictional movie, it can often result in clarifying personal belief in the real world. After viewing “Avatar,” I found myself thinking mainly about how beautiful the graphics were in depicting the magical ‘Pandora,’ and how upset I was when the forest was destroyed. Indirectly, my own personal feelings on environmentalism were highlighted through my vieweing of “Avatar.”
Traveling outside of the United States was a very eye-opening and valuable learning experience for me. Last summer I spent two months living in a flat in London with my friend and his uncle. In terms of variance in lifestyle, England is arguably quite similar to the United States – a modern, technologically driven society, high-quality living conditions, and a well-established education and health care system. What took me by surprise when I first arrived was the fact that everything was smaller – the refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher took up the same area that my oven did at home. The streets were narrower, the cars were far more compact and sparse…England seemed to have figured out how to thrive on simplicity, an important lesson that the US had apparently missed.
How had I not realized the enormity of everything American? How had I not previously judged the supermarkets, the shopping malls, the SUVs? Without the new perspective gained on my trip overseas, I’m sure I would still be blissfully ignorant. Growing up, I was subjected to a similar “hunt-and-peck literacy” (61) as Davidson mentions in her book. Only abroad was I able to engage in true educational exploration – similar to a student “searching, surfing, and browsing the Web,” I was able to focus on ideas that shocked and interested me personally, instead of being subjected solely to the information my teachers deemed important. The idea that “creative thinking requires attention to surprise, anomaly, difference, and disruption” (77) summarizes the impact England had on my ability to explore and learn.
Technology lets students explore what interests them. While traveling abroad I learned more about England than in any class, and I believe surfing the web or listening to an international news channel or podcast can have the same effect. Perhaps it’s the freedom that technology holds – it’s completely up to the user how to gather data and learn new things. Davidson states that her students pointed out she “used entirely conventional methods for evaluating their work” (106), which, when considered in real world context, ends up being very impractical. Many forms of assessment do miss “complex, rational, and logical thinking entirely” (115), which is the one type of thought that can have the most impact on the success and happiness of a student’s educational career. An ideal grading system would be based on the significance and meaning that each student took away from what interested him or her.
I think an appropriate boss-level challenge for this class would be to have students determine a new aspect of life that could be improved by technology or media. The scope could be very large, from education or business to entertainment or fitness, and each student could write a proposal of how to implement his or her method of improvement. The students could utilize the same approach that real media and technology corporations use when establishing their own plans.