This packet is an intriduction to media literacy.
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.
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 media 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.