Online College Courses for Credit

Media in the 21st Century

Media in the 21st Century

Author: Amee Wittbrodt
  • Critically analyze information found in electronic, print, and mass media and use a variety of these sources.
  • Understand, analyze, evaluate, and use different types of print, digital, and multimodal media.

This packet is an intriduction to media literacy.

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The mass media include newspapers, magazines, radio, films, CDs, Internet, music, etc. The media communicate information to a large, sometimes global, audience. Near-constant exposure to media is a fundamental part of contemporary life, but it is TV that draws our attention  the most.  

  • According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day.  In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.
  • 99% of American households (hh) possess at least one television.
  • Number of TV sets in the average American hh: 2.4.
  • Average number of hours per day that TV is on: 6 hours, 47 minutes.
  • Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000.
  • Number of TV commercials seen by the average person by age 65: 2 million.


Media are very integral part of our lives and therefore they generate popular interest and debate about any social problem that we can think of.

What is the nature of the relationship between media and society?

The mass mMass Mediaedia is a powerful socializing agent. Media affect how we learn about our world and interact with one another. Media literally mediate our relationship with social institutions. We base most of our knowledge on government news accounts, not experience. We are dependent on the media for what we know and how we relate to the world of politics because of the media-politics connection. We read or watch political debates followed by instant analysis and commentary by "experts." Politicians rely on media to communicate their message.

Similar dynamics are present in other mediated events such as televised sports. Media is part of our regular relations with family and friends. They define our interaction with other people on a daily basis as a diversion, sources of conflict, or a unifying force.

Media have an impact on society not only through the content of the message but also through the process. Media often act as the bridge between our personal/private lives and the public world. We see ourselves and our place in society through mass media.

Media play many different - and maybe incompatible- roles. For the audiences, it is a source of entertainment and information while for media workers, media is an industry that offer jobs- and therefore income, prestige and professional identity-. For the owners, the media is a source of profit and a source of political power. For society at large, the media can be a way to transmit information and values (socialization). Therefore, depending upon whose perspective and which role we focus on, we might see a different media picture.

Media in the 21st Century

Discussion Questions

Question Mark

  1. T/F?  According to the statistics about television, it's safe to say that every American home has at least one TV.
  2. T/F?  Media have no affect on how we learn about our world and interact with one another.
  3. T/F?  The top four corporate media giants are Viacom, GE, Disney, and Time Warner.
  4. What does the mass media include?
  5. What form of media seems to attract people's attention the most?
  6. For the owners, media is a source of _______________.
  7. What is an example of "Too little news; too much bologna passed off as news"?
  8. The FCC allows broadcasters to use the (publically owned) airwaves for free, as long as they promise to _______________.
  9. What ethnic group are the most underrepresented people on TV? They only account for 2% of all primetime characters, although their national population is 12.5%.
  10. What ethnic group is actually over-represented in terms of numbers, but they continue to be represented stereo typically and used mostly for comedy?
  11. What ethnic group controls the media?
  12. Does the media have responsibilities?
  13. "Who ever controls the media- the images, controls the culture" (Allan Ginsberg).  What does this quote mean? Do you agree? Does media control our culture or does our culture control media?
  14. What would you say is the overall point of the video you watched?  Who do you think made it and why?