The Importance of Understanding the Media

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For most people today, the media are the main source of knowledge and entertainment in their everyday lives. Americans are said to watch more than four hours of television on average every day. That’s 21 hours each week, two months per year, or the equivalent of watching nine years of non stop television over an average lifespan (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2008). This statistic, while still daunting, ignores other forms of media that are arguably more prevalent in every day life; smart phones, laptops and the newspaper to name a few. The media surround us, they are like the air we breath, ever present yet rarely ever considered (Croteau, Hoynes & Milan 2012). Who decides what I will read in the news today? Why should they have power over my own personal viewing? Those who control the media play a pivotal part in our everyday life and thus, we must clearly understand this control and the detrimental influence it could have on not only ourselves, but society as a whole.

The media will serve the economic and political interests of whoever owns and controls it - whether this is private individuals interested in profit or governments interested in political control (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2008). The media is an industry. In Australia, it employs over 200,000 workers and is a larger industry than wheat, wool and beef combined (Budarick 2013). Over time, this industry has shifted from a free market, to one which is dominated by very few large capitalist corporations. For example, in 1923 there were 26 metropolitan daily newspapers in Australia owned by 21 proprietors. There are only two national daily papers in Australia today, the Australian and the Australian Financial Review (Budarick 2013). The mass media products will often embody these capitalists ideologies that are than consumed by the mass audience (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2008).

The mass audience in its definition is not necessarily restricted...
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