We are aware of the importance of sharing information and getting our message out to communities. With so many different forms of media available, we want to ensure that we choose the best method to deliver our message. I have been tasked with evaluating media messages that have been conveyed through five different media outlets. These outlets are television, radio, newspaper, social media (Twitter), and a blog. Below are five media messages that have been ranked in order from 5 – 1, five being the least appropriate form of communication, and one being the most appropriate form of communication.
1. Social Media (Twitter)-
Twitter was founded in 2006, using short messages as a form of micro-blogging. Since then, Twitter has evolved into a site that is much more than brief messages. At first glance, you often see single pictures or short quotes, but this can be linked to any number of articles or other sites. This allows the reader to decide how in-depth they want to read about any given topic. This can have a big impact on the message, as the ease of searching relevant articles makes it more accessible to a wider variety of people. This form of media may not work for everyone though, as it is often necessary to use hashtag symbols and follow hyper-links to find information. This is one of the reasons that the target audience originally was young adults skilled in navigating social media. (@VLuck, V. L., 2013) While Twitter can be misused by spamming users or distributing misinformation, there are many more valuable uses, such as getting information to a wide group of people quickly. (Lule, J., 2017) For example, in Twitter’s Clean Air Campaign, you can find links to programs and policies world-wide created to protect and create clean air. Some of these posts, or ‘Tweets’, come from well-known and respected companies, such as CNN, and are intended for readers who want to know what they can do to help the environment. (Campaign, C.A., 2016) Each individual post has to be judged on its own content to determine bias. Fortunately, that is easy to do since it is already broken down into categories and sub-categories.
Blogs are one of the more recent forms of media, shortened from web-log. As newspapers have lost credibility and funding, its readers looked elsewhere for a written news source. Because of this the impact of the message is heightened, as readers now have a modern source for obtaining information. Like Twitter, bloggers can target any audience it chooses depending on the goal of the site. There are celebrity bloggers that target the younger generation, companies that target potential customers, and authoritative sources who’s goal it is to publish factual news. While this is a way for creative people to have an outlet they may not otherwise have, it can be misused. If you have a well-written blog, there will be people that assume the blog is authoritative. The strength of the blog post lies in the ability to reach multiple age groups and cultures. However, while traditional journalists are expected to use verifiable sources, a blogger is not held to that same standard. (Luke, J., 2017) A blog site from Moms Clean Air Force, posted an interview with the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, in October, 2018. The general audience for Moms Clean Air Force are like-minded women who want to create a more sustainable environment for their children. If the readers were paying attention, they would have noticed that the interview with Mayor Jackie Biskupski was done just one month before election day. Both the questions and answers were used as a platform to discuss future plans for office and criticize the opposing party. (Yerman, M.G., 2018) This is an opinion piece that is peppered with multiple references to the Mayor’s many other media sites.
Television was first introduced to the public in the 1930s, and by 1951 it had already become the most influential form of media ever seen. (Jones, R., 2017) This was the first time the world was able to have video and audio at once and they were enthralled. This had a massive impact on any message presented. The target audience is everyone, which is both a strength and a weakness. The upside is the potential for gathering information from multiple sources. Unfortunately, one of the weaknesses is that it can be challenging to verify these sources. The information is often relayed quickly and without reference. So, even though one of the uses of television is the distribution of information, it can also be misused by delivering incorrect or false information. Take, for example, PBS News Hour Weekend. You have a one-hour program, less advertisement time, that discusses multiple topics. One such topic is discussed in a segment titled ‘Wildfires in Western states are disrupting efforts to curb air pollution’. In a span of little more than five minutes, the host talks about deaths, property damage, causes of wildfires, and even interviews a guest. (PBS, 2018) Unless you request the transcript, you must assume what you see and hear is accurate, and there will be viewers that do assume this. Because of this, and the time constraints, there is a lot of room for interpretation of the ‘facts’ that you are hearing. The information may be verifiable, but many won’t bother, leaving it difficult to judge bias.
In 1916, the first radio broadcast aired in New York City. It was initially used as a nightly news and music broadcast. (Lule, J., 2017) Like television, the use of radio has greatly expanded and is now an information source for news, as well as entertainment, which is impactful to the listener. The target audience for radio is teenagers and adults of all ages. One of the strengths of radio is the ability to listen on the go; you can listen while you drive, exercise, and even work. Sometimes, however, this can be a distraction and lead to errors. While there are nationally recognized news radio programs, the majority of radio programming is used for entertainment purposes, such as music and talk radio programs. There is also a greater possibility of misuse as talk radio stations often have one or two hosts that are simply giving their opinion on different topics. Having said that, there are reliable radio broadcasts that have great information and authoritative guests. Science Friday, for instance, has programs and topics that are informative and intelligent. One specific broadcast, titled ‘Urban Life Isn’t a Walk in the Park’, has guest Jonathan Newman, who is a cardiologist and professor. This is an unbiased program intended to give information to all listeners to improve their health. (Science Friday Initiative, 2017) While you would have to do your own research, the information is easily available.
The newspaper is the oldest form of media, dating back to the late 1600s. This was the first time that information was acquired and distributed to a large audience. This greatly impacted the message as it drastically reduced the amount of time it took information to reach the recipients. Today, the target audience is older adults who have read the newspaper all their lives and are not as comfortable with technology as the younger generations. This is unfortunate, as it is important to be able to read about alternative views, and not assume unbiased information. On the other hand, written material can be re-read and is easier than audio or video to note references. As newspapers expanded and popularity increased, they grew to be a source that people looked to as an authority. They grew so much, that many newspapers took on the assumed responsibility of deciding what information the public needed to hear. In the past fifty years, newspapers have been criticized for presenting biased news. (Lule, J., 2017) In August of 2018, The New York Times printed an article titled ‘Pollution May Dim Thinking Skills, Study in China Suggests’. This article gives very scientific-sounding information, but there are many generic terms such as ‘several studies’, ‘most experts’, and ‘the agency’. In other places, it gives names of journals and universities, but no dates or specific titles to use as a means of research. It would seem that this article is intended to give its readers factual information, but we can’t be sure. (Ives, M., 2018) Although bias is not assumed, the lack of clear information, resources, and intent, leaves the reader feeling lost.
While each media source comes with its own strengths and weaknesses, some are more important than others. While I hesitate to put newspapers at the bottom of the list, the fact that it has such a small readership sealed its fate. Television and radio both have a large audience, but it is too difficult to verify sources and establish bias. I chose Twitter and blogging as the top two forms of media for this project because it can both reach large audiences and is relatively easy to research information. Both of these are important in order to reach the maximum number of people and establish a reputation of trust and respect.
@VLuck, V. L. (2013, November 7). The 7 Most Important Moments in Twitter History. Retrieved October 10, 2019, from http://business.time.com/2013/11/07/the-7-most-important-moments-in-twitter-history/.
Lule, Jack. (2017). Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication. Boston, MA: FlatWorld
Campaign, C. A. (2016, September 2). Clean Air Campaign (@CleanAirGA). Retrieved October 12, 2019, from https://twitter.com/cleanairga.
Richard G. Jones Jr. (2017). Communication in the Real World. Boston, MA: FlatWorld
PBS. (2018, September 2). Wildfires in Western states are disrupting efforts to curb air pollution. PBS News Hour Weekend.
Science Friday Initiative. (2017, December 22). Urban Life Isn’t A Walk In The Park. Science Friday. New York, NY.
Ives, M. (2018, August 29). Pollutions May Dim Thinking Skills, Study in China Suggests. The New York Times.
Yerman, M. G. (2018, October 2). Retrieved from https://www.momscleanairforce.org/author/marcia-yerman/