Overall, Media Studies N10 was a great introduction to the UC Berkeley Media Studies program, and a good introduction to the world of media overall. Going into the first lecture, I already had opinions about the poor health of media today.
For my first prompt, I argued that even with an increasing number of cable channels, we do not have a diversity of viewpoints, because most material on TV is rehashed and contains no useful content.
In fact, I was so turned off by this fact that I had stopped watching TV around the middle of high school. So going into the class, I was pretty confident that much of the lessons taught would serve to further confirm my views on media.
And these lectures did. What we learned about media conglomerates, axioms and precedents, the transmission vs. cultural view of communication, among others, provided qualitative proof that media these days was poor in quality.
The segment on advertising was also something I’d learned my senior year of high school in AP English Language. Our teacher was particularly interested in how media and commercials are manipulated, and he taught us about these things in detail. Much of my future aspirations in Media Studies and Marketing were largely influenced by his lectures.
However, as summer session went on, certain aspects of the course surprised me and caught me off guard. Sure, I’d known about the poor job the media had accomplished in its post-9/11 and Iraq War reporting, but it never occurred to me that what was really happening illustrated Chomsky’s propaganda model.
Granted, when I first read the article talking about his model, I told myself that this was some extreme liberal ranting about right-wingers.
But as I looked more into his works, some things began to make more sense, and even though I don’t believe that the propaganda model holds true on all reporting (there must be some stories that were done because the public was interested in them), there are definitely times that this model becomes blaringly apparent.
This course changed the way that I consume and understand media because now, whenever I look at a news story, I think about the possible factors behind why the story was reported in the first place.
Could it be because it satisfied one of the five criteria of newsworthiness? Was it because the top dogs in conglomerates demanded that these stories be covered? Or maybe it was the result of some well-done PR packets submitted to reporters by the government or corporations?
I definitely will take “objective” news with a grain of salt, as there are just so many subtle things that could slant an article – wording, omissions, pictures, or headlines.
The most important thing I learned in this class is to analyze media with my head. Instead of just blindly accepting what is reported, advertised, etc., I will now think of the possible factors behind why this story was written, and who it sets to benefit. In short, I will be more critical of media now, because I know that there are a lot of factors that hurt the quality and integrity of media texts.
Before I close, I want to just write about how much I enjoyed the essay topics. They were breaths of fresh air from the usual research/factual papers I write for many other classes. I loved analyzing the magazine ads, and the essay I wrote on Pulp Fiction was as much fun as it was hard work.
I also enjoyed the class structure. Even though it was really long, I appreciated the breaks based on how we were responding to the lecture, as well as the use of multimedia. Lectures were clear and to-the-point, and the PowerPoint helped a lot in note-taking.
So in closing, Media Studies N10 was a pleasure to take. I not only had fun writing the papers and watching the videos, but I also learned many important ways to analyze media. With these tools, I will be better able to look at media critically, not taking news at face value, and having basis confirming my views on the state of media.
I hope that in the future, I will be able to contribute news, opinion, and stories that are fresh, relevant, and unique, with minimal worries of flak from big institutions.