mass media to learn

Mass media are important in figuring ourselves out. Insights into the human condition come from prose, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in every medium. Mass media are powerful vehicles for self and other exploration. Think about listening to a moving obituary on a pivotal person in our society, or reading a powerful novel—Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun on the price of war or Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, and imagine how you were changed by content of those media. Ideas that have changed our worldview gained traction and acceptance as mediated messages— Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, or Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique—all were fundamentally transformative in their own way. The whole range of media products, as diverse as sappy television sitcoms, somber radio documentaries, and online brooding anime cartoons, can tell us something about ourselves.

Mass media has such a strong impact on the thoughts, attitudes, opinions, and behavior that people often turn to certain types of media when they want to be enlightened and educated. Consider bibliotherapy—a form of self-therapy involving an individual who is seeking enlightenment and transformative change by reading self-help books or inspirational novels. Many people who saw the movie The Wild, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of walking the Pacific Crest Trail alone in order to deal with her grief in the wake of her mother’s death, became determined to do something similar to deal with their own heartbreak. Essentially, mass media are an ideal way to gain insights about ourselves and the world around us, to be moved emotionally, to feel connected with something larger than ourselves, to gain new perspectives, and to experience personal growth.

1.2.5 Overlapping Purposes 1. Objective: Identify forms of media that serve overlapping purposes

Dissecting media messages by their purpose is useful; however, the pigeonholing or categorizing media by its purpose is limiting since most media messages have multiple purposes. Social humorist Bill Maher, for example, is a comedian but his intent is not mere amusement. Maher is also a source of information and might lie to persuade you to see things his way. Other examples of media with overlapping

purposes are John Oliver from Last Week Tonight and Stephen Colbert of the Late Show, both of whom deliver political news while entertaining through humor and sarcasm.

Media consumers may not be aware of the overlapping purposes of media, and particularly when persuasive messages are packaged as entertainment, yet with a well- developed sense of awareness and a high level of sophistication, media consumers can become savvy at assessing the true nature of media messages, which renders them less susceptible to media manipulation.

Writing Prompt Journal: Applying Your Media Literacy—Purposeful Mass Communication

Watch television for one hour, switching channels at least three times. Write down the purpose of the various forms of mass communication you watch, including commercials, and television shows. What did you notice that you wouldn’t have noticed before? How often did you note overlapping purposes? What is the value of becoming more aware of the various purposes of mass media?

The response entered here will appear in the performance dashboard and can be viewed by your instructor.

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