Welcome COMM-510! This will be the first blog post I will have ever written. I am excited to explore this form of new media as we discuss how it plays a role in our daily lives as students and as individuals.
The class text by Kovach and Rosenstiel (2010) Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload begins with the introductory chapters that argue how the media shapes beliefs and individuals have few opportunities to avoid this influence. In the age of information overload, one can find themselves adopting numerous forms of communication technology on a daily basis. As a consumer for new media, I am no exception.
My morning ritual begins with my smartphone, an alarm informs me the day has started. I begin by pouring myself a cup of coffee and then start mindlessly perusing emails that need to be answered, read news feeds on Facebook, my Yahoo account, CNN headlines, and the daily newspaper in my town. Once that is finished I am ready to head to work, but first I send a Snapchat to my sister who is away at school and send a quick text message to my parents informing them I am awake. Once at work, I am on the computer, accessing various healthcare data programs and filing information into an electronic system that is endless. In this time I am now checking my work email account and then my Supervisor’s email account, utilizing scheduling programs to allow access for her calendar. Lunch time arrives and I am eager to check Instagram, my online checking account if I can afford to make the shopping trip this weekend with friends and of course, a few more Snapchats and text messages must be sent. When evening arrives I arrive home to have my smartphone at my side, and homework begins, my laptop now serves as the new media I will utilize until the next day begins.
New media plays a very active role in my life. As a post graduate in the working world, going to school through an online program and aiming to pursue a career in the every changing techno-logic healthcare field, new media is not only a form of communications I adopt freely but a necessary fundamental skill needed to achieve success in both personal and professional aspects.
I mentioned how new media reaches me directly, through the applications I utilize to the daily work requirements I perform. Yet, media reaches me indirectly as well. When I receive CNN updates, email notifications and text messages from friends, co-workers and family, I am partaking in that form of new media. However, when I sit down to watch a favorite show on cable television, my Netflix account and all other premium networks available, I am also partaking in indirect media. Every advertisement and closed captioning commercial viewed in between Ellen or Law and Order: SVU special, I am being utilized as a consumer apart of a target audience. When I am on a shopping site online, I am being targeted based upon previous purchases made. Indirectly and often subconsciously, I am interested and zoned in on what is being sold as content. Whether it is a product, service or brand, I now have the image and words in my mind that I would like to purchase this content. Hypercommercalism and brand entertainment (Baran, 2014) are two very common ways new media reaches any individual indirectly. Therefore, even if I am not personally typing that text message, sending that email or updating a status, I am still utilizing new media as a part of my daily life.
The media influences subconsciously derived from cable television, Internet and the written word do influence our perspective of world events. As an undergraduate, taking courses in journalism aided in my comprehension on why certain stories are headliners and how one should make the reader feel in regards to the headlines being placed in front of them. One professor informed the class of inspiring journalists to remember “If it bleeds, it leads.” I consider this phrase now and the power it has for the everyday consumer. When one turns on the television, opens the newspaper, or browses Internet news sources the question of validity is not often taken into question. Kovach and Rosenstiel (2010) discuss the power of media messages through such databases by stating “The problem these institutions face is that the Internet has decoupled advertising from the news” (p.7). Thus, if we read of only terrible events that are occurring in the world that is in fact how we will view the world. There is no question that top stories with tragic details do occur, however, with many bias news outlets and less factious stories being released, it is often difficult to decipher the truth from the falsities.
I do believe the media has the power to tell you what to think about but not what to think because we are individuals in a participatory culture in which we interact with numerous media influences both directly and indirectly. As media consumers, we must possess the fundamental skills necessary to become media-literate individuals who seek truth in what is being delivered in content. According to Kovach and Rosenstiel (2010) these skills aide individuals on knowing how to evaluate information from various sources so that we can become those active participants in a new age of information overload (p.8).
The media has the power to shape beliefs, however the level of strength and direct the power has on individuals varies from the source used and the person the source is being influenced on. Media is often very persuasive and is nonetheless informative, even if the content being delivered is not completely accurate, it still has some effect on us as mentioned. It is human nature to conform to the most accepted beliefs of society in religious beliefs, politics, trends on the market and opinions of high power authority figures; we are easily influenced by what is being portrayed. These can either be positive or negative influences it depends on what content is being engaged by the consumer.
Beliefs can be cultivated over time through family history, educational backgrounds and the groups we find ourselves conforming to; however I believe the largest and most powerful influence is media. Continued exposure to specific content can result in small but measurable effects, but not as drastic as a newscaster informing an audience to perform a task and having the audience perform said task. Subconsciously, the consumers’ influenced have already a foundation of beliefs that have been taught over time, so one statement said by a media influence may not easily sway the individual completely, yet there is an effect there that the source has just impacted and it is our responsibility as media-literate active participants to decipher what that impact will be. Kovach and Rosenstiel (2010) discuss this influence in the last paragraph of Chapter 2 in Blur: How to Know What’s true in the Age of Information Overload by questioning the influence media has with one’s beliefs, “the reality of the change is not the end of one media and the rise of a new “we media” culture but a blending that is tending toward a new way of knowing” (p.7).
Information revolutions outlined in Chapter 2 of Blur: How to Know What’s true in the Age of Information Overload, have resulted in ways of knowledge changing. Beginning with the Printing Press to evolving to radio, television and resulting in the current digital technology and consumer choice we have now, one can see the evolution of the information revolution.
The power of media has changed completely, beginning with the written word moving towards cable television, to the consumer information we have now, accessible to anyone anytime. The information revolution has changed the way we receive information, “each advance in communications technology has made it easier to learn about the world around us,” (p.24). However, as Blur: How to Know What’s true in the Age of Information Overload states, the impact of the printing press was just as profound as the impact of the internet has on individuals today (Kovach and Rosenstiel, 2010). Therefore, although the amount of time information can be retrieved increased with the Internet, the impact the Printing Press had on individual’s centuries ago is no different. In turn, the effect the Internet has on individuals today will be no different than the effect a new form of information revolution will have on individual’s centuries from now.
Baran, S. (2014). Mass Communication, Culture, and Media Literacy. In Introduction to Mass Communication: Media Literacy and Culture (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T. (2010). How to Know What to Believe Anymore. In Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload. New York: Bloomsbury.