The articles included in this twelfth edition of Annual Editions: Mass Media reflect three issues of concern at the beginning of the new millennium. 1) The extent to which the U.S. government and legal system should rightfully be involved in regulating either media messengers or media messages. 2) The ongoing debate over how news is selected and packaged, ethical practice, and coverage of war and terrorism. 3) A heightened awareness of a media landscape profoundly altered by corporate mergers and technological change.
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Table of ContentsUNIT 1. Living With Media
1. A Defense of Reading, Marie Winn, The Plug-In Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life, Penguin Books, 2002
In this chapter from the 25th anniversary edition of The Plug-In Drug, Marie Winn compares mental processes associated with reading and listening to the radio to those used when viewing television.
2. Parents or Pop Culture? Children's Heroes and Role Models, Kristin J. Anderson and Donna Cavallaro, Childhood Education, Spring 2002
Kristin J. Anderson and Donna Cavallaro report results of a survey of 179 children, ages 8 to 13, investigating the influence of media on choice of heroes and role models that influence identity.
3. Media Violence and the American Public: Scientific Facts Versus Media Misinformation, Brad J. Bushman and Craig A. Anderson, American Psychologist, June/July 2001
Over the past 50 years, news reports of the link between media violence and aggression have changed from claims of a weak link to a moderate link and back to a weak link. In this article, two Iowa State University researchers analyze statistical findings of scientific studies, and they conclude that the link, which has strengthened over time, is clearly a positive one.
4. The Whipping Boy, Jib Fowles, Reason, March 2001
Jib Fowles argues that the belief that television violence causes hostile behavior is “a whipping boy, a stand-in for other clashes, real or imagined.” He sums up social conflicts that add to misdirected anti-television violence crusades.
Cop shows appeal to the American promise of radical individualism, reflecting both contemporary social reality and timeless moral dilemmas. This article explores their roots in both westerns and medical dramas, tracing the evolution of the genre.
This article analyzes presence of conservative viewpoints in "non-liberal media" sources ranging from Fox News to Comedy Central to The Drudge Report and mainstream publishers.
Despite criticism to the contrary, Stephen Goode contends that television presents a broad range of spiritual content, inspiring viewers to ponder uplifting stories of faith, hope, and miracles.
This article looks at narrowcasting effects of the growing number of media sources, compression of the news cycle, limited attention span, and the persuasive power of images in context of the 2004 election campaign.
UNIT 2. Covering News
9. The Pentagon Is Fighting—and Winning—the Public Relations War, Robert S. Pritchard, USA Today Magazine (Society for the Advancement of Education), July 2003
This article provides an analysis of news coverage of the military conflict in Iraq, including historical context, perspectives on censorship in reporting from war zones, and embedded journalists.
10. Baghdad Urban Legends, Lori Robertson, American Journalism Review, October/November 2003
Is the news media to blame for the mistaken perceptions of people when considering their opinions on the Iraq war and its aftermath?
In context of coverage of the Iraq war, Brent Cunningham analyzes the ideals of journalistic fairness and balance, and how news reporting is shaped by human perception and public relations spin.
This article examines the effects of journalists' professional, college educated perspectives on their choice and coverage of news stories. The result is a disconnection with poor and working class Americans, and a potential of class bias in both reflecting and shaping social reality.
13. High Anxiety, Lori Robertson, American Journalism Review, April 2003
Focusing on news coverage of the terror alert of February 2003, Lori Robertson analyzes decisions, actions, and hindsight lessons of the panic-fueled run on duct tape and plastic sheeting.
Carl Sessions Stepp looks reporting practices in noncommercial news organizations, including The News Hour with Jim Leher, the St. Petersburg Times, and Ms. Magazine.
Jill Rosen's focus is gatekeeping choices in news coverage of celebrities such as Kobe Bryant and Michael Jackson. The article includes historical perspectives of television news format and practices.
USA Today, the nation's largest newspaper, has reader-friendly roots and the yen to compete journalistically with its more critically respected elders. This case study of its evolution over the past two decades provides insight into news as a business enterprise.
UNIT 3. Players and Guides
Michael Powell began his term as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission with a push for relaxation of rules limiting media ownership, a proposal met with the largest outpouring of public response the Commission has ever experienced. This article examines scholarship on media ownership and content diversity, drawing conclusions in three areas: format diversity, demographic diversity, and idea diversity.
FCC Chairman Michael Powell's sweeping change of media ownership rules was met with the largest outpouring of public response the Commission has ever experienced. Opposition from groups as ideologically diverse as the National Rifle Association and the Conference of Catholic Bishops influenced legal and legislative action to block implementation.
19. Media Money: How Corporate Spending Blocked Political Ad Reform & Other Stories of Influence, Charles Lewis, Columbia Journalism Review, September/October 2000
Charles Lewis examines the influence of the media industry on FCC policy and the progress of legislation dealing with issues such as intellectual property, violence, “must carry” provisions, media ownership, and political advertising.
20. Children, Entertainment, and Marketing, Rhoda Rabkin, Consumers' Research, June 2002
In April 2001, Senator Joseph Lieberman introduced a bill to prohibit the marketing of “adult rated media” to young people under the age of 17. Rhoda Rabkin summarizes the history of voluntary regulation of media, from the Hollywood Hays Code to self-regulation of comic books and music, and then raises concerns about current attempts to identify the entertainment industry as a health threat to young people.
21. The Information Squeeze, Charles Layton, American Journalism Review, September 2002
Charles Layton explores current tensions in distinguishing government secrecy from protection of privacy, as they influence access to information available through the Freedom of Information Act.
Using examples from the 2002 sniper killings in the Washington, D.C. area, Christopher Hanson presents ethical dilemmas facing journalists covering police investigations.
Jill Rosen looks at fallout from recent cases of plagiarism and fabrication in news reporting, describing why ethical lapses occur and how newspapers are responding with zero tolerance and aggressive fact-checking practices.
24. Important if True, Jill Rosen, American Journalism Review, August/September 2003
Jill Rosen discusses fallout from the Jayson Blair case, including a review of policy regarding ethical use of anonymous sources.
A case study of international reporter Jack Kelley, with evidence of denial of plagiarism and fabrication, illustrates the interplay of personal drive and professional regard in investigating breach of conduct accusations.
UNIT 4. A Word From Our Sponsor
26. The Myth of ‘18 to 34', Jonathan Dee, New York Times Magazine, October 13, 2002
Jonathan Dee discusses the cause and effect of conventional advertising wisdom that places a premium on companies' attracting consumers ages 18–34 to their commercials by supporting media that attract that demographic.
A look at magazines launched over the past 25 years exemplifies the finely targeted, niche audience perspective that distinguished their value to advertisers seeking a complement or alternative to mass marketing expenditures.
28. Pay for Play, Eric Boehlert, Salon.com, March 14, 2001
Eric Boehlert describes the influence of payola, independent record promoters, and deregulation of radio station ownership on what songs are played and how hits are made.
29. The Big Money Guys, G. Jeffrey MacDonald, The Christian Science Monitor, April 8, 2003
This article debates pros and cons of supporting public broadcasting's children's programming through merchandising revenue.
30. Going Long, Going Deep, Scott Sherman, Columbia Journalism Review, November/December 2002
Scott Sherman's profile of The Atlantic Monthly provides insight into how this magazine approaches editorial decisions that maintain its high-quality reputation, but at the expense of profitability.
Two decades after the introduction of the first commercial cell phone, more than half of all Americans own one. Following the review of lifestyle effects of mobile phone use, Hassan Fattah looks at the potential of target marketing via cell.
UNIT 5. The Shape of Things to Come
32. Searching for Online Gold, Doug Brown, American Journalism Review, June/July 2003
Online publishing is still an experiment, searching for avenues for profitability. This article examines the potential of subscription and registration models as a means of attracting advertiser revenue.
33. Low Power, High Intensity, Laurie Kelliher, Columbia Journalism Review, September/October 2003
Low power FM radio licenses were introduced by the FCC in 2000. Despite legislative challenges that have stalled expansion, 220 stations are on the air, run largely by volunteers dedicated to serving niche audiences.
Broadcast media are licensed and regulated because of “spectrum scarcity”—the need to divide broadcast frequencies into bands that don't overlap and interfere with reception. This article describes scarcity as a product of outdated transmission and reception technology, and proposes removing limits by reinventing our concept of frequency.
The telephone, long a one-to-one communication medium, is poised to become a mass media communications device. Portable, wireless, small-screen receivers have potential for changing media content and format as they change how consumers interact with media messages.