My double major in journalism and communication studies taught me…
1. Everything has an agenda
In school, I learned the term “agenda setting.” This is the idea that the media doesn’t tell a passive audience what to think, instead, it tells an active audience what to think about. With this said, everything that is mediated to you is framed to fit a particular viewpoint for a specific purpose, so don’t let sensationalized news stories prevent you from logically connecting the dots to form a larger context.
2. There’s a method to this madness
I’ve learned so many theories about how people interact with each other and media that I can’t watch T.V. without having flashbacks of test questions. And just when I thought I was dodging numbers by choosing a journalism major, I was forced to take an Ad and PR research course that introduced me to the world of research, charts, graphs, and standard deviation.
With this said, don’t underestimate the power of advertising or the media. There are tons of theories and research backing it up.
3. Minority representation sucks but stereotypes are easy
While in school, I took two diversity in media courses. These two courses reiterated something I already knew: minority representation in the media sucks. But why is this? It’s easier to use short cuts to developed characters. Unfortunately, these short cuts often come in the form of misinformed stereotypes.
From my studies and observations, the best way to combat these misrepresentations is to counteract them with mediations of your own story.
4. The media is a representation, not a reflection, of our society
With a reflection, what you see is what you get. When you look in a mirror, there is only one version to be reflected back at you. But a representation is something depicted in a particular way and can have several versions. This is why, when it comes to media, it is important to remember that what is being mediated is not a reflection of society but a version of society representing a particular viewpoint. The question is whose viewpoint is being represented, and whose viewpoints are missing?
5. Social media has been a game changer
Social media is changing the game. No longer does traditional news media have a monopoly over the flow of information. Thanks to social media, anyone can create and spread news. But don’t be so quick to dismiss traditional news outlets. They still come in handy when twitter randomly decides to kill someone; traditional media is great at verifying the credibility of news.
As traditional media fights to stay afloat in the flood of information produced by the digital age, it has adapted to new forms of spreading news. You will often catch news outlets interacting with their audience via hashtags,mentions and Instagram photos.
In retrospect, after condensing 4 years of college into five key points, it seems as if my accumulation of almost $30,000 in debt has been worth it…nahhh.