Essay Part One
If I were to encounter a situation where I worked for a news organization that was owned by a big company, I would be fairly careful about how I handled a situation that would compromise the profitability or the success of that corporation. It would be a difficult decision to make if I were faced with the possibility of reporting a story that demonizes the parent company’s refrigerators and presented them as fire hazards. There are a lot of considerations to make in this decision, all of which I would have to keep in mind.
The media carries a social responsibility to provide the news that is most applicable to their lives and enriches it, which means leaving out any extraneous news when necessary. Ideally, this process should happen as quickly as possible, especially given the importance and urgency of some of this information. Recently, news has gotten a lot faster and more omnipresent, with a 24-hour news cycle meaning that every little story gets repeatedly dissected. While this means that more stories get national attention, slow news days mean overexposure of unimportant stories.
Modern media delivery is good because of its speed, but it also means a lot of information gets lost in the shuffle. The faster delivery means that people can receive more news, but it may not be as well absorbed by the audience. The Internet itself has created a culture of immediate gratification, where people can only pay attention to so much at a time due to the sensory overload of having literally everything at their fingertips. News blogs are a great way to filter this information, but it is less likely that there is the type of quality control seen in a typical professional news station. This makes it more probable that some facts could get lost or some stories reported in an erroneous way. The ethics and legality of online reporting are very complicated; it is far easier to spread false information, since there is far less fact checking going on. Practicing good ethics would involve making sure to only report the truth with a minimum of bias in online media, as well as making sure you have permission from the creators of content before using it.
With all of these things in mind, I believe the best option would be to be honest and concise in the reporting. The biggest hurdle is the conflict of interest that arises from actively reporting on something that hurts the parent company. If they were to be hurt, it could mean losing my job. However, there is such a thing as journalistic integrity, and it is important to uphold that standard. I would release a story stating the danger of the refrigerator fires and how they are destroying homes; I would also state in the beginning as a caveat that my news organization is owned by the company that releases it.
There could be consequences, surely, as they may not gel with the company line. However, someone at some point would report the story, either on another news station or on the Internet. It would get to the public quickly enough that my suggestion of beating them to the story would hold more weight, and my superiors would consider that more seriously.
Essay Part Two
Movies and television have always been indicative of the culture of the times. Everything from fashion to politics to attitudes in a film reflect the time that it came out. Characters in a film from the 1980s, for example, would be wearing clothes that people wore back then, use vernacular and mannerisms that were popular during the day, and be filmed in a style indicative of the latest technologies. Often, in shows like Law and Order, plots are “ripped from the headlines,” in that they take a current issue or case and fictionalize it, portraying it on screen. In that way, culture can definitely help to dictate what is shown on television.
This relationship is a double-edged sword, however, as media can also influence behavior and culture, at least in those with a more tenuous grasp on the difference between reality and fiction. People will emulate characters from television and movies in their clothing and behavior if they look up to that character, and that helps to shape the overall culture, as these trends come to life when people start acting them out. Violent films and shows with sexual content
Culture can be influenced by video games as well, and that particular aspect can inform some of the more disturbed members of society. Typically, video games feature a large amount of violence and sex, and as many video games are played by the younger generation, the content of those games can have a big influence on their behavior. While many children and adults who play video games can understand that violent behavior like that is not acceptable in the real world, there are dangerous exceptions that lead to disasters such as the Columbine shootings.
Grand Theft Auto is, undoubtedly, one of the most influential examples of violent video games that reach incredible popularity and are known throughout mainstream culture. It offers incredibly lifelike portrayals of gang violence and sex, and is often purported to be a bad influence on children. Games such as World of Warcraft also offer a sense of community, while many worry about its ability to make people invest too much of their time and life into the game, losing all contact with reality and normal society.
On the other side of the coin, the phenomenon of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series of games has come into the mainstream, allowing more casual gamers to come together as a collective whole and enjoy each other’s company in a way that doesn’t involve shooting any pixilated characters. The Nintendo Wii offers a great alternative to more violent games, providing a subset for a greater number of people get involved in video games.
Overall, media and culture go hand in hand. Life imitates art, and art imitates life. The biggest concern is, then, at what point in the chain does negative behavior, such as violence, begin, and where can it be stopped or curtailed. For the most part, it is in people’s choices that the decision must be made as to how influential media can be on culture.