Table of Contents
Clashing Views on Media and Society, Thirteenth Edition
Unit: Media and Social Issues
- Issue: Are Family Values Shaped by the Mass Media?
YES: Leigh H. Edwards, from Reality TV and the American Family, in The Tube Has Spoken: Reality TV & History (University Press of Kentucky, 2010)
NO: Karen Sternheimer, from Hollywood Doesnt Threaten Family Values, Contexts (Fall 2008)
Associate Professor Leigh H. Edwards examines how families are portrayed in television and discusses how certain narrative tropes, trends, and genres present us with real family relationships representative of American society and culture. She raises the important point that reality television in particular presents viewers with real conflicts to which many families can relate, because the programs portray real cultural problems that have no easy answers. She concludes her argument with an assessment that public debates about family and marriage often frame the content of the families we see on television. Sociology Professor Karen Sternheimer cites public controversies about the real lives and on-screen portrayals of families by celebrities who are often criticized for contributing to demeaning family values in popular culture. She argues that these celebrities and media figures are not to be blamed for contributing to moral chaos, when the real-world economy provides a more powerful argument for examining families, values, and problems in American life.
- Issue: Have Media Representations of Minorities Improved?
YES: Drew Chappell, from Better Multiculturalism through Technology: Dora the Explorer and the Training of the Preschool Viewer(s), in Portrayals of Children in Popular Culture: Fleeting Images (Lexington Books, 2013)
NO: Elizabeth Monk-Turner et al., from The Portrayal of Racial Minorities on Prime Time Television: A Replication of the Mastro and Greenberg Study a Decade Later, Studies in Popular Culture (Spring 2010)
Professor Drew Chappell, in Better Multiculturalism through Technology: Dora the Explorer and the Training of the Preschool Viewer(s), juxtaposes facts about recent actions attempting to ban ethnic studies and restrict immigration in parts of the United States with the television show, Dora the Explorers portrayal of a bilingual (English/Spanish) speaking girl, and discusses how the show introduces children to bilingualism, border identities, and multicultural discourse. Chappell discusses how the performance of identity in Doras world can teach children about what brings all humans together. Elizabeth Monk-Turner, Mary Heiserman, Crystle Johnson, Vanity Cotton, and Manny Jackson, in The Portrayal of Racial Minorities on Prime Time Television: A Replication of the Mastro and Greenberg Study a Decade Later, revisit what has become a classic study in the portrayal of minorities in media and finds that even though how minorities are represented have changed within context, no serious changes to stereotypes have really occurred. In this study of prime-time television programming, little has changed within the 10-year time span between the classic Mastro and Greenberg study, and the analysis provided by the authors.
- Issue: Do Media Distort Representations of Islam and Arab Cultures?
YES: Wajahat Ali et al., from Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, Center for American Progress (August 2011)
NO: Gal Beckerman, from The New Arab Conversation, Columbia Journalism Review (January/February, 2007)
Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fang, Scott Keyes, and Faiz Shakir discuss in Fear, Inc., a special report from the Center for American Progress, how the Muslim religion is among the most maligned stereotypes in popular culture, and how these images have fueled misperceptions about the Arab world. It explores how media have been an echo chamber for misinformation created by well-funded groups dedicated to spreading fear and misinformation. These images influence politicians and citizens and contribute to public opinion. Journalist Gal Beckerman discusses how Arab bloggers from the Middle East are challenging popular stereotypes of Arab and Middle Eastern cultures. Because these bloggers are writing about their lives, the global public can read about their situations and understand them as individuals, rather than racial or ethnic group members.
Unit: A Question of Content
- Issue: Do Media Cause Individuals to Develop Negative Body Images?
YES: June Deery, from The Body Shop in Consuming Reality: The Commercialization of Factual Entertainment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
NO: Michael P. Levine and Sarah K. Murnen, from Everybody Knows That Mass Media Are/Are Not [pick one] a Cause of Eating Disorders: A Critical Review of Evidence for a Causal Link Between Media, Negative Body Image, and Disordered Eating in Females, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology (January 2009)
June Deery examines the role of reality television and body makeover programs and concludes that these types of programs normalize the idea that bodies can and should be improved by plastic surgery, weight loss, and control programs, and that women in particular should subject themselves to all measures to find success and happiness. She theorizes that these programs assume that women in particular do have negative body images, and that the real messages of these programs is that surgical steps can and should be taken to improve ones poor body image. Michael Levine and Sarah Murnen also investigate magazine ads, but find the assumption that media cause eating disorders to be too limited. Instead, they cite a wide range of social, behavioral, and cultural issues over time to understand the complex conditions under which girls begin to adopt negative body issues that result in eating disorders.
- Issue: Do Video Games Encourage Violent Behavior?
YES: Craig A. Anderson, from FAQs on Violent Video Games and Other Media Violence, www.CraigAnderson.org (2009)
NO: Henry Jenkins, from Reality Bytes: Eight Myths about Video Games Debunked, www.pbs.org (2009)
Craig A. Anderson is an expert on the effect of violence in television and film. Based on extensive research, he holds the position that video games prompt young people toward even more aggression and violence than do other media content. Henry Jenkins tackles a broad array of misconceptions about the place and impact of video games on society. He argues that the primary audience is not children, that violence is not increasing in society, and that concerns about isolation, desensitization, and violence are overblown.
- Issue: Is Product Placement an Effective Form of Advertising?
YES: Kaylene Williams et al., from Product Placement Effectiveness: Revisited and Renewed, Journal of Management and Marketing Research (April 2011)
NO: Elizabeth Cowley and Chris Barron, from When Product Placement Goes Wrong: The Effects of Program Liking and Placement Prominence, Journal of Advertising (Spring 2008)
Professors Kaylene Williams, Alfred Petrosky, Edward Hernandez, and Robert Page chronicle the evolution of product placement and define the term as incorporating commercial content into noncommercial settings. They discuss the subtle differences between brand placement and product placement and raise the topic of how product placement is becoming more common in many media forms, including music and games. Professor Cowley and Marketing Manager for Viva9 Performance Marketing, Chris Barron, examine the topic of product placement through a particular theoretical lens called persuasion knowledge. Their research shows that it is possible for product placement to cause a negative shift in brand attitude. In their analysis, they draw conclusions that lead us to think that media consumers are changing all of the time, and therefore, juxtaposition of products and extraneous forms of program content can result in media consumers dissatisfaction with product placement.
Unit: News and Politics
- Issue: Does a Partisan Press Polarize Society?
YES: Paul Starr, from Governing in the Age of Fox News, The Atlantic (January/February 2010)
NO: Kevin Arceneaux and Martin Johnson, from Media Effects in the Age of Choice, in Changing Minds or Changing Channels (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
A partisan press in the United States is not new. But the increasingly hostile political divides in Washington and across the country, paired with the intensification of partisan journalism, raise the question of whether it is possible to have a partisan media that retains professional standards of journalism. Arceneaux and Johnson take the perspective of audience members to ask basic questions. Are we really more polarized as a society? If not, why do so many think we are? How does media influence the polarization process or perception?
- Issue: Will Evolving Forms of Journalism Be an Improvement?
YES: The Economist, from The People Formerly Known as the Audience, The Economist (July 7, 2011)
NO: James Fallows, from Learning to Love the New Media: Shallow, Divisive, Unreliable, The Atlantic (April 2011)
In a special report The Economist studies The People Formerly Known as the Audience to argue that social media allow a wider range of people to take part in gathering, filtering, and distributing the news. A torrent of information is being posted on the Internet, creating a role for peoplenot limited to journaliststo evaluate, verify, and create meaning. James Fallows analyzes the rise of new media and its unintended consequences of giving people what they want, not what they should want. He fears an age of lies, undercovered stories, disconnection and distraction. He concludes with concerns and predictions for journalisms future.
- Issue: Should Corporations Be Allowed to Finance Political Campaigns?
YES: Thomas R. Eddlem, from Citizens United Is Breaking Up Corporate Dominance of Elections, The New American (June 26, 2012)
NO: David Earley and Ian Vandewalker, from Transparency for Corporate Political Spending: A Federal Solution, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law (2012)
Conservative author Thomas R. Eddlem makes the case that corporate media institutions influence the messages that the public sees and hears. As a result, the Supreme Courts 2010 Citizens United decision, which gives corporations the right to make political contributions and creates the possibility of the establishment of SuperPACs, also results in the exercise of freedom of speech. David Earley and Ian Vandewalker, two counsels at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, argue that the rise of political spending that resulted from the Supreme Courts Citizens United decision has created a situation in which political elections can be bought by corporate donors. Because of the new law, they argue that the only way to ensure transparency is to create a situation in which all political donations are disclosed to the public.
Unit: Law and Policy
- Issue: Should We Ban Hate Speech on College Campuses?
YES: Jeremy Waldron, from Approaching Hate Speech, in The Harm in Hate Speech (Harvard University Press, 2012)
NO: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, from Spotlight on Speech Codes 2013: The State of Free Speech on Our Nations Campuses, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (August 29, 2013)
Waldron rejects the argument that hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. He offers models from other developed democracies that value a civil society in which all members can participate with dignity. He argues that hate speech undermines the public good and asks who benefits from allowing this to continue. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) publishes a yearly volume on speech codes. They find that many colleges and universities have speech codes that infringe on rights that citizens would have beyond the campus. Each year they articulate particularly grievous examples of infringement of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Their selection makes clear that college policies go far beyond what we would think of as hate speech and threaten faculty and student freedoms.
- Issue: Does Technology Invade Our Privacy?
YES: Daniel J. Solove, from The All-or-Nothing Fallacy, in Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff between Privacy and Security (Yale University Press, 2011)
NO: Stewart Baker, from The Privacy Problem: Whats Wrong with Privacy, in The Next Digital Decade: Essays on the Future of the Internet (Tech Freedom, 2010)
Daniel J. Solove, Professor of Law at George Washington University and authority on privacy issues, argues that privacy is too often sacrificed for security concerns. He argues that there are often solutions that do not involve such sacrifices, but that they are dismissed by an all-or-nothing attitude. Stewart Baker, former Assistant Secretary for Policy at Homeland Security, argues vigorously for better collection and use of technological information. Its importance in preventing acts of terrorism, in tracking potential criminals, and in protecting the interests of the country far outweighs privacy concerns of individuals.
- Issue: Are Copyright Laws Effective in Curbing Piracy?
YES: Brian R. Day‚ from In Defense of Copyright: Creativity, Record Labels‚ and the Future of Music‚ Seton Hall Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law (2011)
NO: Alex Sayf Cummings‚ from Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century (Oxford University Press‚ 2013)
Attorney Brian R. Day addresses the size of the recorded music industry which manufactures and distributes 85 percent of the recorded music in the United States today‚ and discusses the need for copyright protection and the different business models used by the music industry today. He argues that copyright is essential to the music industry and other media industries because it constitutionally protects the work of artists and their ability to profit from their talents. Alex Sayf Cummings writes from the perspective of the impact of piracy‚ bootlegging‚ and counterfeiting on the music industry and concludes that contemporary copyright legislation is just not adequate to circumvent the ease with which people can download unauthorized copies of musical performances. He warns that copyright is no longer adequate to meet the challenge of digital music today, and warns that the recorded music industry is in danger of becoming obsolete.
Unit: Media Business
- Issue: Will the Recorded Music Industry Survive Digitization?
YES: IFPI, from IFPI Digital Music Report 2013: Engine of a Digital World‚ International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (2013)
NO: Panos Panay, from Rethinking Music: The Future of Making Money as a Performing Musician‚ in Rethinking Music: A Briefing Book (April 24, 2011)
The IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) is a not-for-profit organization registered in Switzerland. It represents the worldwide recording industry with 1300 members in 66 countries and with affiliated industry associations in an additional 55 countries. In this 2013 Report, the organization looks at data to support the idea that the recorded music industry has begun to rebound after many years of a business model that favored consolidation of the recorded music industries, and that the evidence of todays growth benefits an international market. Panos Panay examines specific changes to the live music scene, and the growth of niche markets that contributed to the evolution of several new models for the music business. Despite a poor economy in 2010, fans are becoming more active and involved in the production of a successful band and/or record. Along with a new model of entrepreneurship, Panay offers insights to how the recording industry is evolving.
- Issue: Should Newspapers Shut Down Their Presses?
YES: Clay Shirky, from Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable, www.shirky.com (2009)
NO: Cary Spivak, from Are These Guys Crazy? American Journalism Review (December 2012/January 2013)
Clay Shirky argues that the old economies of newspapers are destroyed in the digital age. This is a revolution similar to that which occurred with the invention of the printing press. No one knows what the future will hold, but we can only hope that journalism is not lost with the demise of newspapers. Cary Spivak examines the motivations of investors who are willing to buy newspapers. In an industry with plummeting ad revenue, circulation losses, and high print and delivery costs, what do these investors see? He finds their rationales range from bargain shopping to a faith that the investor has good ideas that will save the paper to acquiring a venue to advance political ideologies. What they share is a belief that the industry can be saved.
- Issue: Should We Oppose Media Consolidation?
YES: Mark Cooper, from Testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, U.S. (February 4, 2010)
NO: Brian L. Roberts and Jeff Zucker, from Testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, U.S. (February 4, 2010)
Mark Cooper, Director of the Consumer Federation of American Research, argues that allowing the largest cable network and the nations premiere video content producers and distribution outlets will alter the structure of the video marketplace, resulting in higher prices and fewer choices for the consumer. Such consolidation of the marketplace is not in the best interests of the American public. Brian L. Roberts and Jeff Zucker, then Presidents of Comcast and NBC, respectively, argue that the merged firms will benefit consumers through the investment in innovation of both content and delivery mechanisms. Such a merger will allow this merged unit to compete more effectively in the increasingly global video market.
Unit: Life in the Digital Age
- Issue: Are Youth Indifferent to News and Politics?
YES: David T. Z. Mindich, from Journalism and Citizenship: Making the Connection, Nieman Reports (Winter 2008)
NO: Pew Internet & American Life Project, from The Internet and Civic Engagement, www.pewinternet.org (September 2011)
Author and Professor David T. Z. Mindich addresses the sobering facts of why youth do not follow the news. He links this with low voter turnout, a widening knowledge gap between younger and older citizens, and a lack of trust in news media. The author of Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Dont Follow the News, Mindich explores the essential link between news and information and being an informed and engaged citizen. The Pew Internet & American Life Project released The Internet and Civic Engagement in 2009. This report examined whether the Internet could change long-established patterns of civic and political involvement. Based on a sample of more than 2,000 adults, the project found that new forms of civic engagement based on the Internet, blogs, and social media have the potential to alter long-standing patterns of information and engagement of younger voters.
- Issue: Are Online Services Responsible for an Increase in Bullying and Harassment?
YES: Penny A. Leisring, from Stalking Made Easy: How Information and Communication Technologies Are Influencing the Way People Monitor and Harass One Another, in The Culture of Efficiency (Peter Lang, 2009)
NO: Amanda Lenhart et al., from Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites: How American Teens Navigate the New World of Digital Citizenship, Pew Internet.org (2011)
Penny A. Leisring discusses negative effects of using online technology to cyberstalk or harass someone. Use of social networking, e-mail, GPS systems, cell phone spamming, and caller ID all can be used to create a threatening or hostile environment for those people who use them for antisocial purposes. The author also addresses the situations that lend themselves most often to these undesirable uses of communication technology, such as in the break-up of romantic relationships, abusive relationships, or just plain hostile behaviors and interactions. This study, conducted by Researchers Amanda Lenhart et al. at the Pew Internet & American Life Project, suggests that bullying and harassment also exist in face to face communication contexts more often than in online formats. The researchers contextualize the responses to questions that show that teens in particular also find it possible to use online services for kind interactions and social support. The findings of the research team suggest that teens use online social networks for a variety of reasons, and the data they represent indicate that while there may be some situations in which bullying and harassment occur, the numbers indicate that in general, online bullying and harassment are not as big a problem as Leisring predicts.
- Issue: Are Millennials More Tech-Savvy Than Other Generations?
YES: Ben Adler, from Streams of Consciousness, Columbia Journalism Review (May/June 2013)
NO: Siva Vaidhyanathan, from Generational Myth: Not All Young People Are Tech-Savvy, The Chronicle Review (2008)
Journalist Ben Adler writes about his own personal awakening in terms of how he began to think about news, and what constituted news. By interviewing a range of people who are concerned about how news is changing to fit the tastes of millennials, he outlines how the process of getting news and what constitutes news is changing. Professor Siva Vaidhyanathan takes the perspective that his own students (who are largely millennials themselves) exhibit a wide range of skills necessary to be considered tech-savvy. He claims that the many assumptions that young people are better with technology actually overgeneralize skills and abilities of any group. Instead, the simple generalization that young people have superior knowledge of technology and how to use technology forces us to think in terms of creating policies that perpetuate the generalization, rather than dealing with the real problems of social and cultural change.