Examining Media Use and Influence
PC Magazine (2015) defines new media as methods of communication, which happen primarily through the Internet that allows, “smaller groups of people to congregate online and share, sell and swap goods and information. It also allows more people to have a voice in their community and in the world in general” (para. 2). New media has been an integral part of my life for several years and has changed how I manage personal behaviors, communicate with others, consume information, and acquire goods and services. By identifying key concepts of the indirect influence, I am able to gain a better understanding of how my beliefs have been shaped by new media.
Forms of Media I Use Daily
A cursory review of my daily technology use enlightens me to my new media habits. The Internet is the dominant source of information in daily consumption. I access the Internet through multiple channels including, my iMac, MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPad. Two observable conditions appear:
- After taking an inventory of my device use, I am apparently an Apple fan.
- My laptop has replaced my desktop as my primary tool for school because I can take my laptop into my son’s room to study while he plays with his toys.
Indirect Media Consumption
Indirect media consumption is an interesting topic because I am usually the person alerting others to information about the area in which I live. As an Information and Referral intern (n.d.), my responsibilities include establishing and maintaining information on, “local public, private and voluntary service agencies and organizations” (para. 9) as well as providing “information to individuals and families regarding military and civilian resources” (para. 9). However, in a passive context I glance at headlines of newspapers at the store, read billboards as I am driving, and occasionally catch a program on television while sitting in a waiting room.
Influence of Media on My Perspective of World Events
Media influences my perspective on world events if the event is relevant to me. In March 2015, my husband and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary by taking a Mediterranean cruise. During our trip, Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed in the French Alps killing all 150 people onboard (Zhang & Engel, 2015). The news coverage was affected me because I would be flying from Italy to Germany at the end of March. I searched the Internet, watched news programming in our hotel room, and sought out English language newspapers to find more information on changes of flight regulations in Europe. I needed to focus my attention on this media event because the aftermath of the crash had the potential to alter the last part of my trip as we flew from Italy back to Germany.
To Think or Not to Think; the Power of Media
Critical examination of media is a necessary skill for understanding the effects of media in the 21st Century. By regularly examining the influence of media in my life, I am better able to identify bias, misinformation, omission, and falsification in news and other sources of information. However, media literacy is a skill that needs to be improved upon continually to maintain accuracy in critical thinking. I choose to be skeptical but other people may not be aware of the influence of media and cannot apply skepticism to media information. An area of study I wish to further develop as a professional communicator is helping people decode the messages in different types of media sources.
How Media Shapes My Beliefs – Short Term and Long Term Effects
Media can shape my beliefs as long as the information is factual, but discovering verity in media is my responsibility. In December 2014, the article Breastfed, Homebirthed Babies Taken Away From Parents For Not Using Hospital from the website Medical Kidnap Health Impact News was posted in multiple Facebook parenting groups and caused quite a stir. Parents were enraged at the idea that CPS could waltz into someone’s home that held alternative beliefs in parenting, and steal their children. My first thought was, ‘There is way more to this story! CPS does not just take babies because CPS actively works to keep families together,’ and my second thought was, ‘Medical Kidnap?? That cannot be a real news site!’
After perusing the Internet, for more information about the family involved in this story, I found that my initial thoughts were correct. Relyea (2014) of the Bellingham Herald reported that the family in question had a history of domestic violence, untreated mental illness, and were residing in inappropriate living conditions. Additionally, I explored the Health Impact News website and after clicking on their Resources tab I discovered a page of links for visitors to purchase the products mentioned in Health Impact News articles. My beliefs in can be cultivated in the long term through transparency in media if the information is true and presented in a straightforward manner.
Positive and Negative Influences of Media Shaping My Beliefs
The influence of media shaping my beliefs is generally positive because I am skeptical. Without skepticism, I think media could easily control my emotions but I strive to question the content that is presented to me. I also aim to provide multiple viewpoints to my friends and family because I want them to have a better understanding of the influence of media in their lives. Baran (2014) indicates that critical thinking about media messages and the credibility of sources is crucial because media is central to the governing process.
A Condensed Analysis of the History of Knowledge
Eight significant transformations in communications have resulted in challenging accepted methods of information gathering and distribution. Cave drawings, oral language, written word, printing press, newspapers, radio, television, and Internet have all been formats responsible for the transmission of information and thereby creating drastic societal changes (Kovach and Rosenstiel, 2010). These forms of communication are part of the Diffusion of Innovations theory, which indicates, “communication and relationships play important roles in how new ideas are adopted (or not) by individuals and groups” (Martin & Nakayama, 2010, p. 57).
The adoption of communication sources by society as an avenue for knowledge transmission has been responsible for the elevation of media as a powerful source of information. Kovach and Rosenstiel (2010) state, “Each new method of communication made the exchange of information easier, more textured, and more meaningful” (p. 12). From cave paintings to the printing press, preserving information has been an important part of the human experience. However, unlike cave paintings and books made with paper, which are fragile and deteriorate, the Internet provides any person with access the ability to record ideas and messages that will be preserved as long as the connection tools are available.
Media is a powerful tool in modern society because media has the ability to shape beliefs. Analyzing the various methods in which I consume media has been an enlightening experience. By examining the effects of media consumption in my life, I have been able to identify indirect exposure, the effects of influence in world events, and how media contributes to my thought process. Additionally, reviewing the narrative of communications in a historical context provides me with a deeper appreciation of the human experience.
Baran, S. J., (2014), Introduction to Mass Communication Media Literacy and Culture. (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Health Impact News. (2014, December). Breastfed, Homebirthed Babies Taken Away From Parents For Not Using Hospital. Medical Kidnap. Retrieved from http://medicalkidnap.com/2014/11/25/breastfed-homebirthed-babies-taken-away-from-parents-for-not-using-hospital/
Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T., (2010). Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload. New York: Bloomsbury.
Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2010). Intercultural communication in contexts (5th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
New media. (2015). PC Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/47936/new-media
Relyea, K., (2014, December 5). Court: Return Rengo children to parents, with conditions. Bellingham Herald. Retrieved from http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/12/05/4012570_court-return-rengo-children-to.html?sp=%2F99%2F100%2F&rh=1
USAJobs.gov (n.d.), Information Referral and Follow-up Program Manager. Retrieved from https://my.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/368649100
Zhang, B., and Engel, P., (2015, March 28). Here’s everything we know about the crash of Germanwings flight 9525. Business Insider UK. Retrieved from http://uk.businessinsider.com/everything-we-know-about-germanwings-flight-9525-2015-3?r=US