So I do not know about you guys, but I feel like I am walking away from this course with a plethora of knowledge compared to when I started with. This course may have been short, but I feel like the amount we learned is more than I have learned in a couple full semester courses.
In this module, I learned a lot about the news and also how consumption impacts us. I found the readings from the Karen Sterheimer’s text, Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture, very interesting this week. I have always blamed the media for influencing our spending habits. When in reality, we are to blame. We have made it to where money pretty much runs our society. The reason why our children and the next generation, feel entitled to things or to spend money is because we let them. The children are not to blame, they are only following our lead. Yes children have as Karen Sterheimer says, “kidfluence: the power children have to influence their parents’ purchasing decisions”. (Sterheimer 2013 p.247) But, its the parents who allow the children to influence them. They have a need to consume. Sometimes it could because they feel guilty they are not home or even guilty that their children don’t have what the other children have. When in reality, is it really that important to “Keep up with the Jones'”. Buying things even if they are not necessary, is a problem people have. But, Our economy depends on people spending in order to keep running. Sternheimer, K. says, “Approximately two- thirds of the economic growth in United States can be attributed to consumer purchases”. (2013 p. 248). Everyone has a problem with overindulgence, despite what “class” they fall under. We are a culture of consumption. Adults want to fit in just as much as children do, that leads to them spending money they may not have. It is easy to blame advertising for children wanting to have things, but really children are the hardest targets for advertisers to reach. I did not know this until I read it in the text. I always thought that children would be the easiest target. Some advertisers have mastered the trick though and understand children and what they want to see. One way that advertisers have influenced the youth to buy their products is by offering youth who may be “popular” to other children free products. I have seen a lot of this on youtube. I watch make up tutorials on there and follow girls who have a large following. I always wondered how they always have the newest make up products (because I struggle to buy the few products I use!). I have learned that they are offered free products if they use them in their tutorials! And of course they do! Who wouldn’t want free makeup? And they make them look AMAZING! They sell those products and make me want to go out and buy it for myself. Which is me failing into the consumption cycle just like the advertisers planned.
Just like the youth want free products, schools want funding too. It is becoming more common for schools to sell public space to advertisers. According to Sternheimer, K, “The sad fact is that advertisers often value children as consumers more than our society values them as students, and advertisers are fronting the money to prove it.”(2013, p. 263) The advertisers are jumping on that lack of funding problem in schools. Because society is failing to provide the resources schools need to help our students succeed, our students are now around advertisements more and more. No wonder they are craving to consume and manipulating their parents to do so! People need to realize that it is better to live with less and to create more balance in their life. They need to add more yin to their yang. To create this balance, they have to be more conscious of their consumption.
Just like advertisers try to show us things we want to see in order to convince us to buy products. The news follows that trend. They show stories that will get them the most views. We depend on the news to get all of our information. We really miss out on a lot of information because the news media will show what is going to get them the most views. According to Radford (2003), “Typical local news stories one might encounter in an average week include house fires, car accidents, hit-and-runs, bank robberies, homicides, and the like. But very little of this is actually relevant to the vast majority of viewers.” He also says, “Television, by its very nature, distorts the reality it claims to reflect and report on. Events are compressed, highlighted, sped up”. This makes me feel that when I watch the news I really am missing a lot of the story. They do not give us all of the information, instead, a summarized version of it which could be majority false because it is only data- no information or wisdom. I really enjoyed the article, “How to Detect Bias in News Media”, because it really shows us ways to find out of if the information we are paying attention to is correct. I have noticed that many media sources lack diversity. As I read in this article, “In order to fairly represent different communities, news outlets should have members of those communities in decision making positions.” ( Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. p.1) As McChesney (2002 ) says in his article “The Rise and Fall of Professional Journalism”, when journalism was on the rise, “People could trust what they read.”(2002, slide 6) That is not true anymore. The news only shows what is going to get them the ratings and views they want. “mainstream news and “business news” have effectively morphed over the past two decades, as the news is increasingly pitched to the richest one-half or one-third of the population” (McChesney, 2002, slide 13) The media gets to show what they want because it is their freedom of speech. Although we may not agree with some of it, that is what they are allowed to do. The powerpoint, “Democracy & The News”, provided to us during this module shows us different peoples opinions about freedom of speech and how it has changed or what it means.
The article, “Who Gets to Speak on Cable News?”, also goes into detail about how news networks do not show diversity. Before this course, I never really payed attention to what is shown on the news, but I must say- my eyes have been opened! We did an activity in this module like the project they did in this article. We watched the news and made note as to who spoke on that story and who it was about. A majority of the people were caucasian and usually male. I noticed, just like mentioned in this article, that when I did see another race, it was usually the news anchor. Who was the same Asian female, shown on many stories. The article says, “Male guests widely out numbered women on every show, making up to 72 percent of the guest lists.” (Hart, 2014) I never really thought about women being a minority. I mean sure earlier in the module we learned about sexism, but I thought that women were shown equally. I know there was an issue with races not shown equally, but I never noticed it with gender. “Among guests with a partisan affiliation, Democrats outnumbered Republicans…”. (Hart, 2014) When I was doing my news critique, I too noticed this. I saw I believe one video and it was about Donald Trump. The reporters were all giving their opinion as to why he should not be president. It seemed very bias because the reporters were all supporting Democratic beliefs. I learned the differences between a lot of Liberal and Conservative beliefs from the article provided by the editors of StudentNewsDaily (2010). This article was interesting. I knew the difference between their beliefs, but this article went into a lot of detail which helped clear up any confusion I had about what the different parties supported. I lean more towards the right side, but on some issues I do have a liberal opinion. How about you guys? Did you go through the article and mark where you stood on each issue? I thought it was really interesting.
I thought that the final chapter we read in the textbook was a good wrap up to the whole course. I have learned that media is not to blame for many of the issues going on in our society. From violence, bullying, suicide, sexual behavior, teen pregnancy, eating disorders, substance abuse, homophobia, racism, sexism, or materialism occur. There is much more underlying issues that people choose not to pay attention to. This course really helped me recognize that. Poverty is a big thing to blame for these problems happening. Children who live in poverty have less access to food and health insurance, this causes issues to their health. Sure the government has programs to help people in poverty, but they are things like the GI Bill which “enabled many WHITE families to buy homes with little or no money down and in some cases pay less to move into a newly constructed home than to remain in urban homes”. (Sternheimer 2013, pg. 277) This provided a way for white people to move away leaving other races to live in the communities that pretty much died because there was no money being invested. This created areas of poverty. Living in poverty, can cause stress in homes which can cause violence or substance abuse by the parents. Also, children could feel abandoned because their parents are not home because they are out working. This lack of parental guidance, can cause children to go out and make another family like a gang. Teens growing up poor, feel like they have less to lose. They could fall into substance abuse or be involved more with violence, which could lead to them going to jail.Or even for teenage girl become pregnant, she may think she has no future, so why not? Teens living in poverty have less access to sex education or healthcare access. This teen pregnancy could lead to teen marriage, which could lead to divorce. It is an on going cycle, which is becoming harder and harder to break. It is very common for everyone to blame the poor people for having to live like this. I am guilty of that. I always say, they can go out and get a job and make a difference in their own life. I have always drove past homeless people on the side of the street because I just assume they will spend the money on drugs or something. I have learned not to categorize all people living in poverty. Everyone has a different story. My eyes have really been open though to see that sometimes, there is nothing they can do. Most often, parents are working and still can’t manage to make enough to support their family. My heart goes out to these children. I know that after this course, I am going to do what I can to help volunteer or donate items to these children. I have lived a very privileged life. All it takes is one thing to make a difference in their life.