Media in America
Media in America
We live in a digital world today and there are many benefits and down sides to digital media. News and information is much more accessible; however, it is also much easier to spread bias news and to use news media outlets as distractions for life and to help entertain our children. People have become too dependent on digital media and traditional print media publications have paid the price for this. Below are some topics on how media has changed and how it has helped shape the world we live in.
Before the United States of America existed there were a number of British colonies that were formed for a number of reasons. The south was founded on agriculture and the north was based on trade and business. One thing that set the Colonies apart from England was the number of papers that the colonists wrote and printed and the number of people who read them. Early Americans were avid readers and there was no shortage of materials to read. Tons of papers and news stories were printed every day; some were even published by some of the founding fathers. In this era, before the digital age, people focused on local events and news to publish. This ensured people were up to date on the current events in the cities and colonies they lived in. There was no TV or radio so the main way to learn about what was happening was reading.
Telegraph, Railroads, and Telephones
During the 19th century many technological advancements were made that effected how information was spread and transmitted. The most important of these inventions was telegraphs, telephones, and railroads. These inventions allowed information to travel longer distances in much less time than they have in the past. This allowed people to be exposed to events happening elsewhere in the country and helped turn the states into a more cohesive union. The federal government was able to make announcements and distribute laws quicker than they could before. It no longer took months for Washington DC to communicate with California. The formation of a national railroad system even lead to the creation of stand time zones to ensure trains could run efficiently and without confusion. Finally these new means of transmitting information and products helped set the tone for the success of the industrial revolution.
Radio and Television
The next major breakthrough in the way we get media was the evolution of radio and television. These new platforms allowed us to listen and watch information be presented to us instead of reading it. In addition, these new technologies now gave us the ability to address the entire nation at the same time. During World War II, the American government was able to use these media outlets for war propaganda and the president even made weekly radio addresses to the people. The use of these new media outlets led to the creation of national news companies and local news networks. People could now tune into the channel of their choice and listen to the topics that were important to them. As television evolved, so did the way major events were covered, especially war. The American people, for the first time, got an up close and personal view of what war was like during the Vietnam War. People were able to see the horrors of war in ways they have never seen before and this lead to the way people think of war to change and the perspective of why we get involved in armed conflicts to change. This change brought on an era of public involvement, protests, and change mostly for the better. This change did not only affect the way we perceive conflict with other countries but conflict within as well. The civil rights movement became a national movement thanks to media coverage and this issue becoming a national issue led to major change in the country. A change that needed to happen for the benefit of everyone, especially minorities.
The most drastic way media has changed in our lifetime has been the creation and evolution of the digital era and the internet. The internet now provides a platform for people to post anything they wish for all to see. This is a great tool for people; however, it is also a great liability. The internet has no oversite and no real way to stop the spreading of false news. People often take what they read for fact without checking sources. It is important to remember news is observable facts from primary sources and not opinion. Too many “news outlets” relay opinion as fact today and we must be vigilant to ensure we separate opinion from fact. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on issues, but is now more important than ever, that we fact check the sources of claims. The internet is a wonderful tool and we must not let it separate us as a people due to differing opinions. We must work with fact and make sure we clarify what is opinion when posting online.
The Effect on Children
For many centuries people have read books to children. It helps them develop language skills and is good for mental development as a whole. However, news media sources have encroached on the time we spend reading with visual and audio substitutes. An occasional learning TV show is not a bad thing but we sometimes rely on TV and tablets to entertain our children too much. We must remember the importance of taking kids to the library to read books. This will help limit their dependence on digital media later in life. It is our responsibility to provide the best life possible for our children and we cannot afford to let the internet, TV, and media sources such as YouTube dominate our children’s time. So make sure we limit their access to media and ensure they read books the old fashioned way. It is for their greater good and good for the future of the world we live in to help better our children.
Digital media has evolved and will continue to evolve, there is no denying this fact. We must not let ourselves be sucked into the digital world and we must remember to check facts constantly. We must remember to raise our children to read and not just watch. Who knows what the next evolution in media will be, but we must remember that media starts with the written word and always remember to read.
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