This debate-style reader is designed to introduce students to controversies in mass media. The readings, which represent the arguments of leading scholars and media commentators, reflect a variety of viewpoints and have been selected for their liveliness and substance and because of their value in a debate framework. Taking Sides actively develops critical thinking skills by requiring students to analyze opposing viewpoints and reach considered judgements.
PART 1. Mass Media's Role in Society
ISSUE 1. Are American Values Shaped by the Mass Media?
YES: Neil Postman, from Amusing Ourselves to Death
NO: Horace Newcomb and Paul M. Hirsch, from "Television as a Cultural Forum: Implications for Research," Quarterly Review of Film Studies
ISSUE 2. Is Television Harmful for Children?
YES: W. James Potter, from On Media Violence
NO: Jib Fowles, from The Case for Television Violence
ISSUE 3. Is Emphasis on Body Image in the Media Harmful to Females Only?
YES: Mary C. Martin and James W. Gentry, from "Stuck in the Model Trap: The Effects of Beautiful Models in Ads on Female Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents," Journal of Advertising
NO: Michelle Cottle, from "Turning Boys into Girls," The Washington Monthly
ISSUE 4. Are Newspapers Insensitive to Minorities?
YES: Ruth Shalit, from "Race in the Newsroom," The New Republic
NO: Leonard Downie, Jr. and Donald Graham, from "Race in the Newsroom: An Exchange," The New Republic