Media and Culture Essay

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Media & Culture (c) Bedford/St. Martin's 1-457-62096-0 / 978-1-457-62096-6 (c) Bedford/St. Martin's 1-457-62096-0 / 978-1-457-62096-6 MASS MEDIA AND THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE Mass Communication A Critical Approach 6 Culture and the Evolution of Mass Communication 11 Mass Media and the Process of Communication 18 Surveying the Cultural Landscape 29 Critiquing Media and Culture On Halloween eve in 2010—right before the nation’s midterm elections—Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central’s popular fake-news anchors, held a “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” on the Mall in Washington, D.C. News media estimates of the crowd for this comedic extravaganza ranged from 200,000 to 300,000 (although Colbert said it was closer to “six billion”). The rally both satirized and criticized the loud partisan pundits on the Right and Left who control the nation’s political debates. The rally also took aim at the news media, especially cable news outlets like MSNBC and Fox News, where much of these partisan debates play out by promoting conflict over compromise. On Twitter, a former Newsweek reporter said that “the Rally to Restore Sanity turn[ed] out to be history’s largest act of press criticism.”1 CHAPTER 1 ○ MASS COMMUNICATION (c) Bedford/St. Martin's 1-457-62096-0 / 978-1-457-62096-6 3 MASS COMMUNICATION It is common to hear complaints about the mean-spirited partisanship that thrives in our politics and news media. A key reason for the recent rise of partisanship in today’s news media is economics. In the nineteenth century and far into the twentieth century, newspapers and then TV news strove for “objectivity” or neutrality, muting their political viewpoints to appeal to the broadest possible audience. However, in today’s fragmented

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