Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Medium Divided: The Television

     After a long day of classes and practice, there's nothing like coming back to my room, taking a break, and catching up on the days news stories and sports updates on my television. Sometimes, however, I like to steer clear of the world of informative and enlightening program and get lost in an episode of Jersey Shore or Family Guy.The extremes presented in television programming are an interesting representation of the way society has constructed a large gap between substantial and mindless programming.
    The television is an interesting medium because it allows for communication to an extremely wide audience due to the prevalence of televisions in the world. As discussed in one of our early sessions, we discussed a graph in the textbook that acknowledged the fact that in 2000, 98% of American households contained at least one television (Croteau, Hoynes 5).  The fact that so many people have television access allows for increased exposure of advertisements, programs, and as the book described, politics. During a presidential election, for example, the expanded television coverage allows for people all across the country to gather facts about candidates to make informed decisions regarding who the viewer would elect. The television coverage can also allow people who might not attend a local political rally for a candidate to view the highlights and learn information they would not have been able to without the use of the television. On the other hand, however, the book also references the way in which television and mass media have caused politics to "steer away from substantive policy to policies of soundbites and photo opportunities" (264). This is also representative of the way television programs have seemingly regressed over time, from sitcoms with wholesome family values to reality shows with hardly any substance or worth besides mindless entertainment.
     While it is clear that television and the mass exposure of media have diluted substantial aspects of programming with simplicity and worthlessness, there is no denying that the television is an extremely important medium with regards to the far-reaching markets it encompasses. What's most interesting to me is the way there are seemingly two extremes when it comes to television programming: mindless programming like reality television and news and current event stations that provide daily updates and informative programming. Is there a middle ground with this medium, or has society brought this divide upon itself with its desire for more entertainment and less substantial value?

1 comment:

  1. I would have to disagree with you here. I definitely think there is a middle ground. For example, every day I watch Sportscenter to learn what has happened in the world of sports over the last 24 hours. However, what makes the program great is that it combines an aspect of entertainment into its news and analysis. The anchors are funny and make sports news even more interesting than it already is. The same is true for late night talk shows like The Tonight Show and even skits on Saturday Night Live such as Weekend Update. All of these types of programs contain information while also entertaining the viewer.