I believe that Americans today are inundated with countless violent images, and this proliferation of violence and gore in modern culture is changing the tolerance levels of Americans to such images. It is interesting that these images are not only impacting adults, but children as well. These images are visible in news shows and on television as well as in video games and other mediums that young Americans are exposed to.
The violent images shown in the media in particular elicit a wide variety of responses from viewers. Some are angry when shown these graphic photographs or videos, while others are sympathetic or even distraught. A great deal of this reaction is dependent upon the context of such images. For example, one would react very differently to an image of a natural disaster as compared to an image of a terrorist attack. These images are circulated to stir the public and create such reactions, sometimes even creating a specific sentiment or opinion in the American people.
I have some ethical qualms with these images, as I feel they can be very manipulative. They have an added power than simply reporting on a story, and though they may not be intended to change opinions, their graphic nature gives them the power to do just that. Additionally, those who take these photographs are putting themselves in harm’s way for the sake of a photograph, and although most do it of their own free will, they are often in far too much danger for getting just the right shot to be a worthwhile consideration.
The main problem with the proliferation of violence and inhumanity in today’s media is that we as a nation are becoming desensitized to it all. We no longer are moved as deeply when we see the results of attacks on other nations or our own, and we feel no call to action from these images. This lack of horror has far greater implications than simply our generation, however; what does this mean for the future? Will we feel any desire at all to help others in pain or who are suffering in other ways? The signs currently point to no, a truly frightening notion. If we feel no empathy or horror when faced with the suffering of humans throughout the world, we may as well be deaf and blind to their pleas for help and redemption. I believe that in regards to the question “how much is too much,” we have far surpassed the amount of violence in the media that is palatable and logical, and the more that we see, the less we as a nation and as a culture will truly care or be moved to help.
One of the primary goals of media outlets today is to increase their viewership. This is not only logical but also necessary in order for these outlets to remain relevant and to make a profit. However, this task is growing increasingly difficult in the modern age of niche media, where smaller interest groups are creating and drawing from smaller pools of content relevant to their interests. “Niching down,” a popular term used to explain such specialization of content, is perhaps most challenging for the largest media conglomerates. These outlets, which are the most popular in a traditional sense of media, are often controlled by corporations, or “big businesses.” As such, the information they put forward is sometimes skewed to favor the sponsors and owners of such outlets. The most dominant worry most viewers have as media moves to accommodate our modern world is that businesses are growing too involved in the reporting of news to the general public. These businesses can not only alter the news, but work to give us, the public, less outlets from which to choose from. If one conglomerate buys up too many avenues of mass media, we as the viewership and readership will no longer be able to find both sides of the story, no matter where we look. This danger seems ominous, but in practice, it isn’t incredibly likely. Possible, yes, but it is almost guaranteed that such a monopolization won’t occur in the near future. One of the best reasons that can be given for the improbability of such an occurrence is the saturation of the media with partisan stories and angles. For example, it is practically impossible for one business or conglomerate to control both Fox News, which hosts the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly, and Comedy Central, which is home to both The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. These types of programs are so drastically different and continually attack each other in such a way that their cooperation or even merging is hardly possible. Since we as the public are privy to so many resources and ways by which to keep informed of news, it is our duty to do so. We, the people who are given the power in government, must stay informed in order to ensure the government in power is truly working for us. If not, we have not only failed each other, we have failed ourselves. Without the news, we are unable to see when the rights of ourselves and others are being infringed upon. We cannot share our opinions about such matters without first hearing about them from somewhere. The news is a powerful tool that will only grow in scope, and it is our responsibility as democratic citizens to keep tabs on it.
After doing the assigned coursework for this section, it is clear to me that the invasion of the privacy of the individual for the sake of security is marked by good intentions, though it has gone too far in recent years; similarly, the same invasion of rightful property for the sake of corporations is unethical and must become more transparent as well as more regulated. After the horrific events of 9/11, I can understand the desire of the government to prevent an additional attack by any means necessary, and I am in support of their surveillance up to a certain point; however, I am also a firm believer in my rights as a citizen of this country, and the government tapping into my private life and conversations without my permission violates the rights guaranteed to me in the Bill of Rights. Also, the government has no right granted to them within any legislation that allows them to order companies such as Verizon to hand over sensitive information about their customers, information that annihilates any semblance of trust between service provider and user. The phone conversations of clients of Verizon and other companies are not under the jurisdiction of the National Security Agency, otherwise known as the NSA, and their presumption to the right to these conversations is a clear sign that changes need to be made in the structure of terrorism prevention programs. On a related note, the unrestricted access of corporations to private information of potential and current clients is also a violation of said clients’ rights. The sale of contact information for various demographics and individuals that are considered “likely clients” to companies that use this information is not a problem per se, but the issue has potential to become problematic if left unchecked and if no transparency on behalf of the companies who aggregate the data and those who utilize said data is mandated. When I open my computer and make use of Google for homework, and the advertisements are tailored to mention student discounts on various retail websites, and when the company from which I purchased a suit for high school forensics my junior year of high school still is mentioned on the side of my screen, I am made to feel uncomfortable. I have recently taken to using “Incognito” mode on my Internet browser in order to avoid the collection of my data, and I have disabled “cookies” as well. Though there are measures in place to protect online privacy, the vast majority of those accessing Internet content are not aware of them. I would argue that these options must be made more accessible, becoming “common knowledge.” Until this point, rights are being violated, and though the violation is not severe, it could quickly become more dire if left unchecked.
The issue of diversity in the mass media culture is often a topic of hot debate, and for good reason. For countless years, since the beginnings of mass communication, the market has been heavily saturated by white individuals, primarily white males. As such, a great deal of reasonable complaints have arisen in recent history about the uniformity of most news stations and other modes of news. Many measures have been taken as a result of the airing of these grievances, but some would argue that it isn’t enough. However, still others would argue that attempting to regulate who we see when we attempt to get our news each day is unnecessary and denies some individuals a fair chance to work in the field they are trained for, prioritizing those with a specific minority status over those who may be more qualified. Personally, I feel that these changes in the media are truly for the better. Every person should be able to see herself in the media, regardless of race or gender. Additionally, the diversity of people within the media lends itself to a variety of perspectives on what is often the same story, as one story is usually covered by almost every media outlet with varying frequency. Another complaint some have about diversity within the media is that these diverse individuals have different viewpoints than they might, which is quickly remedied by the changing of the channel to a station that lends itself to the same viewpoint as the viewer or the picking up of a different newspaper or magazine. There are seemingly endless news stations and outlets available for public consumption; it is almost impossible to hold a claim that is not catered to by one or more outlets. Still another grievance is the statement that white people who watch diverse news teams don’t feel that every person on said teams represent their demographic, In response to that, it could easily be argued that no other race or ethnicity is able to turn on the television or open a newspaper or magazine and see that all the contributors are the same as them, unless one is looking at “niche” channels, publications, or websites. Furthermore, those of different ethnicities or orientations who may not have seen themselves represented prior to these regulations and encouragements to do so may now feel that they too can attempt this career path, opening doors that previously weren’t available to them. As such, diversity in the media should not only be encouraged, but required in order to ensure equal representation for all ethnicities and races.
Rachel Schaub Mike Boettcher Reaction Interview
After hearing Mike Boettcher’s talk in class, I was really amazed! Above is a video interview I did with a partner following the lecture.