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Television Messages

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Given the huge amount of time Americans spend with media and given the potential for media abuse, it's clear that we could all benefit from becoming more thoughtful and responsible media consumers. Questioning media ideologies and becoming more informed about events makes us more mindful about the information we are given. When we consume news, for example, we should make a commitment to check our facts and demand accurate information. If we don't then the quality of information we receive will continue to be low.

Watch a news broadcast of your choice and a half-hour or hour-long television situation comedy that contains a family or a neighborhood of people. While you are watching these programs, take notes of the messages these programs are giving you.

1). For example, on the news program, what types of stories are reported? What kind of ideological messages can you detect?

2). On the situation comedy, what types of values do these people hold? Are they similar to your values or to people you know?

3). With both programs, don't forget to include an analysis of the advertising during commercials. What types of products or services are being advertised?
What is the message?

In the ads, how was happiness defined? The goal is to notice what audience members are being told about themselves and the values they should hold.

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Solution Preview

1) During the news program the major types of stories that reported seemed to be sensational stories concerning the activities of stars or celebrities. In addition to the situations that were going on with celebrities within society, there seemed to be a tremendous focus on reporting on the most heinous criminal activity that was taking place across the nation. It seemed that there was a tremendous focus on criminal activities, in all probability due to the sensationalism that surrounds these activities. It appears that the ideological messages that were contained within the news stories were that what was going on with the rich and famous took precedence over other ...

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