Introduction to Sociology SOC 101
March 20, 2010
The Impact of Mass Media
President Abraham Lincoln delivered his infamous Gettysburg address dedicating the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19th, 1863. It was estimated 10,000 people attended the ceremony to observe the speech live and it was days before the message was read about in print. President Barrack Obama delivered his live State of the Union Address last January to an estimated 30 million television viewers at home while another 1.3 million watched it online and it was only minutes after the speech was done that people were able to read about it in print. Mass media is printed and electronic means of communication that carry messages to widespread audiences. In the 21st Century United States, mass media products range from traditional newspapers and magazines, to radio, television, and internet. The internet has brought a whole new era of instant information to the media utilizing online social networks and live news outlets. In 150 years this Nation has gone from actually being on site to view something live to the ability to watch events live from the comfort of our own home. Where will we be in another 150 years? Although instant media is most times unfiltered, mass media has grown because of advanced technological means offering instant global reach while greatly influencing social changes. The Functionalism of Mass Media
The functionalist perspective emphasizes the way in which the parts of a society are structured to maintain stability (Schaefer, 2009). So what is the purpose of the media? Mass media plays important roles in our everyday life. In addition to providing entertainment, news, and education, media products are also used to socialize and market. As a daily routine, many people today make use of mass media tools for various reasons such as socializing, gathering data, sharing information, and even escape. Television is a source of media that has a strong effect on society today. It is important to look at the influence of television because an average American who subscribe to cable TV watches over eight hours of television a day (Guillen, 2005). The medium of film is particularly suited to representing multiple perspectives through its ability to convey subjective experience. Film is also a medium with rich resources for conveying the sights, sounds, rhythms, and auras of a particular space and time, or what is called “chronoscopes”—that is, “time-space articulations, characteristic of particular, historically determined conceptions of the relations between the human, the social and the natural world”. Further, the film medium is also well equipped to represent the multiscape complexity of globalization with its flows and disjuncture’s (Manning, et al., 2010) The media increases social cohesion by presenting a common, more or less standardized, view of culture through mass communication (Schaefer, 2009). I believe we could all agree mass media provides valuable information which each individual uses for work or personal reasons. For example, many folks will watch the news on television or seek information via the internet daily to stay abreast of current events. As this paper is being written, a devastating earthquake and Tsunami recently struck Japan and now the country is trying to avert nuclear disaster. There is risk of nuclear power plants exploding and on the verge of meltdown. This in no way compares to the 9/11 attacks, but as fellow humans we are genuinely concerned for the well being of our neighbors to the Far East. Significant sporting events or sports entertainment such as the Olympics or the Superbowl are media tools used as a reason for people to gather and socialize with family and friends. The advertising moguls know this and also use these mass media events to market their products to millions of consumers. With the explosion of...