Media Is Manmade
To the Editor:
I studied mass media in college. The class work included analysis of media content (stories) and advertising. The homework was a fun exercise. We watched TV news and compiled data on what stories were reported and what products were advertised during which programs. Instead of passively watching news, the class was a lesson in actively understanding what happens on TV.
When I started my real-life career in NYC, I took a job in “media buying.” This was with an agency that keeps track of TV program ratings and target audiences. My job was offering marketing strategy to advertisers and selling time slots on the air. It was a glamorous job with plenty of perks.
The job didn’t last long for me, however. This insider experience left me wondering what happened to the important lessons I had learned in college. Didn’t college prepare us for becoming ethically responsible for the content message and give us a duty to the public?
Instead I found out that media ran on ratings and the cheap sell of “giving the audience what they want.” And so it continues; the competition for our viewership has increased to hundreds of TV channels and millions of internet sites. This creates a situation where we are left to pick and choose what we think is real or true. The media is off the hook since they are just giving us what we want.
It’s important to remember that the media is manmade, that our attempts to make meaningful order of it are constantly challenged by our changing world. When watching the news, the best way to proceed may be to take courage, act kind and stay calm.