Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Media Today

Traditionally we have viewed the things that media does for us as follows:

1) Surveillance,

2) Correlation,

3) Cultural Transmission, and

4) Entertainment.

Surveillance is something that media has done better or worse over the years. Right now it seems to be doing it a little worse than it used to do it. As accountants have gained increasing control over the media we have seen that there really isn’t as much demand for surveillance as you might think. In stead, there is more profit in other things such as entertainment. When profits become the goal why would you provide news, information and interpretation to an audience that seems to prefer entertainment?

Correlation helps media consumers understand the steady stream of data that is coming at them. Isn’t it a bit too much like going to school? Wasn’t the goal to get and education and then get on with life? Why do we need all these people telling us what the news and information means? Well, the biggest reason is that we don’t have the time to find out for ourselves and the world is constantly changing as are we. With all this change we need all the help we can get just trying to keep up with the world outside our everyday lives.

Cultural transmission is one of the significant tasks of media. But, when you’re dealing with an audience that doesn’t really want to be educated in every area possible then entertainment is going to win. And after all we are being socialized through the entertainment we choose to spend our time with. Put another way, why spend your time learning more about your own culture when as far as you are concerned you already know enough. And what is the advantage of knowing all about somebody else’s culture anyway?

Entertainment is the biggest winner in this short list above. We all love entertainment and go our of our way to get as much as we have time and money for. If you’re going to try to educate me, please make it as entertaining as possible. As a nation we seem to be saying if I am warm, comfortable and have plenty of food and sufficient entertainment I really don’t care what is going on around me. Bread and circuses is a phrase which has though history been used to describe either governments or their citizenry when it appeared that human beings appeared to abandon more significant goals. It could be that to a large extent that applies to us now.

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