Monday, August 25, 2008

Quiz Show? "Fifty million people watched, but no one saw a thing"

Robert Redford's 1994 hit Quiz Show is a movie about morals. Dick Goodwin, a young government worker discovers that the hit TV show "Twenty-One" has been fixed due to the attention that former contestant Herbert Stempel has brought about. Dan Enright, producer of "Twenty-One", had asked the man that couldn't be stumped Herbert Stempel to intentionally loose. Stempel unwillingly does what he is asked, throwing possibly the simplest question he had faced to date. Charles Van Doren is then able to answer a question which he had already known the answer to and take Stempel off of the show. Now the moral question here is, should Van Doren have answered the question knowing the show was fixed and was it right that he did? What's right and what's wrong? These are moral questions that we ask ourselves all the time and questions that we might even give a different answer to under certain circumstances.
Charles Van Doren is faced with this very brain teaser, is it OK for him to cheat on the show even if no one is hurt in the process? Many of us were brought up taught that cheating is wrong and shouldn't be accepted in culture. Van Doren was merely a pawn in the game of television, brought on only to spike ratings for the station. Van Doren had told Enright that he didn't want to cheat at first and he wanted to beat Stempel in a fair game. This of course wasn't the case, as Enright asked Van Doren a question which he knew he would get right. What they did was morally wrong but technically not illegal at the time. Congress quickly made rigging a quiz show a federal crime.
The cheating was done for the sake of entertainment, to draw in a crowd using Van Doren. They were able to exploit him, by using his families fame and his look. He was the perfect face for the show and quickly became a hit, and had almost instant fame. I believe the sudden burst of popularity somewhat blinded him to what he was actually doing, cheating. He went from caring that he was cheating and not wanting to cheat, to going along with it and not caring because he believed no one was actually getting hurt in this process. No one was actually physically being hurt by this, but the "50 million" viewers watching the show were not being told the truth and being lead to believe something that was nothing more than an act. Things like this still happen to this day. Children are being lied to about things such as Santa Claus or the Easter bunny, and people still watch shows that appear to be real but aren't such as wrestling. The only difference between these lies and the quiz show lies is the huge sum of money being given away to the "winner".
Hundreds of thousands of dollars were being given to these people for "winning" the quiz show for the multiple weeks they are on the show. This technically doesn't hurt anyone other than the station providing the show to the general public. I believe that if the station had no idea that there was cheating going on during these shows that it should be legally wrong. Other than that it's just people being human, believing what they are told is real. actually is real. In my eyes it comes down to human stupidity, you can't possibly believe that everything you see on TV and if you do it's really your own fault for being "hurt" by it. It comes to a point where you have look at things for more than what they seem to be. In the situation of the quiz show scandal you have to think, one person can only be full of so many useless facts and there has to be a point where they are cheating to some degree.
Cheating happens, no one is going to be able to completely stop what most believe is cheating. If there was no sort of cheating in a quiz type show, which could be as small as informing a contestant what categories will be on the show, than contestants would constantly bomb questions leaving no entertainment value to the show. No one want to watch a show where people are constantly getting answers wrong and no one is winning anything. All of these small "cheats" are done for the entertainment purpose and to bring in ratings for the station. So 50 million people may have watched, but at least one should have been smart enough to realize something was wrong.

-A. Snow

Monday, June 16, 2008

Is IM/text speak destroying the English language, or can it serve to educate?

In this era of the Internet and digital communication (c. 1990) there has been a continuing trend of instant communication technologies referred to as Instant Messaging (IM), which "is a form of real-time communication between two or more people based on typed text... conveyed via computers connected over a network such as the Internet" (Wikipedia) and Text Messaging, which is the “sending of 'short' (160 characters or fewer, including spaces) text messages from mobile phones using the Short Message Service (SMS)" (Wikipedia). These forms of instant communication have become a part of the average person’s daily life as the technology has become more efficient. American youths have been referred to as "... generally intense users of instant messaging technology..." (Lenhart, A., Rainie, L., & Lewis, O., 2001), but how does this mode of communication affect a youth's command of the English language, whether it be written or spoken? In addition, how does it affect a youth's ability to create and build healthy relationships? Research has been done to determine "how student's use of text messaging technology, specifically IM, affects their writing skills" (O'Connor, 2005), and this research has revealed mixed views on the topic. The technology's affect on youth's socialization has become a constant topic of debate.

A 2001 Pew report assessed that "about 17 million youth ages 12 through 17 use the internet" (Lenhart, et al., 2001), which represents "73% of those in this age bracket" (2001). Of those online teens, 74% were found to be using instant messaging; also, 69% of teen instant message users were found to use IM at least several times a week (2001). It has been claimed "instant messaging stands to actually strengthen many existing relationships one has by reducing the problems caused by distance, time and money" (Payne, 2007), but the Internet, and its place in the home, also creates tension between parents and children (Lenhart, et al., 2001). This tension is focused on a report that "57% of parents worry that strangers will contact their children online. These worries are well grounded. Close to 60% of teens have received an Instant Message or an email from a stranger and 50% report emailing or instant messaging someone they have not met before" (Lenhart, et al., 2001).

These dangers aside, this trend in communication has both benefits and detractions to the mental growth of youths. It has been said that "while [IM/text] allows us to quickly and easily communicate with those that we want to communicate with, it also tends to take the personal level of communication out of the situation a bit" (Payne, 2007). This lack of personal, face-to-face, interaction could ultimately hinder American youth's growth and development of natural socialization skills that past generations acquired simply through their day-to-day communications. Payne went on to say, "Even if one was to consider the video and voice features available, this kind of communication is still void of face-to-face contact that is key to our social interactions overall" (2007).

A report from New Horizons for Learning stated that "while there is supporting evidence to suggest that these technologies have a large influence on the social development of adolescents, and even more pertinent issue for classroom teachers is what effect these technologies have on the academic development of young people" (O'Connor, 2005). On the topic of instant messaging affect on student's academics two points-of-view have been determined; they are "those who see 'Internet English' as a breakdown of the English language" and "those who regard this same 'Internet English' not only as an example of how language is constantly developing and changing, but also as a type of literacy in and of itself, which can be capitalized on to engage students in more traditional learning" (2005).

Several articles indicate that students who use messaging on a frequent basis often use bad grammar, poor punctuation, and improper abbreviations in academic writing (2005). One such report claims that "teachers say that papers are being written with shortened words, improper capitalization and punctuation, and characters like &, $ and @" (Lee, 2002). It was also said, "some teachers see the creeping abbreviations as part of a continuing assault of technology on formal written English" (2002). Cindy Glover, a teacher of undergraduate freshman composition in 2002 claims to have "spent a lot of time unteaching Internet-speak.’ My students were trying to communicate academic, scholarly thoughts, but some of them didn't seem to know it's 'y-o-u' not 'u'" (Friess, 2003). In the same report, Friess describes a 15 year-old's summer job application that read, "i want 2 b a counselor because i love 2 work with kids" (2003). Another 2003 report found that "students have trouble seeing the distinction between formal and informal writing, and consequently use informal IM abbreviations and lingo in more formal writing situations" (Brown-Owens, Eason, & Lader, 2003, p.6). Robyn Jackson, a high-school English teacher explained, "we expect kids to get it instinctively, and they don't. It's something that has to be explicitly conveyed to children" (Helderman, 2003). Robert Schrag, a communications professor, echoed this same view when he stated, "We have always implicitly taught our children different language structures and how they function in different arenas... We use (a different) language structure watching a basketball game than in our place of worship. Most children will understand the difference" (Friess, 2003). Montana Hodgen, a 16 year-old high school student "was so accustomed to instant messaging abbreviations that she often read right past them. She said that she 'was so used to reading what my friends wrote to me on Instant message that I didn't even realize that there was something wrong.' She said her ability to separate formal and informal English declined the more she used instant messages" (Lee, 2002). Leila Christenberry, former president of the National Council of Teachers of English and a university English professor, offers the analogy, "It's not that there's never a place for this sort of thing, but it's the difference between how you would dress to go out on a Saturday night versus how you would dress when you do yard work" (Friess, 2003).

Though many educators feel this form of communication is for the worse, some feel that it may aim to improve student’s grasp of the written and spoken English language. Professor Barbars Bell believes that "anytime [students] are reading or writing, it's going to help" (Associated Press, 2003, p.1). There is also a "strong agreement among parents and teens that use of the internet helps youths at school" (Lenhart, et al., 2001). In a Washington Post article, Helderman took the stance that "Instant messaging and email are creating a new generation of teenage writers, accustomed to translating their every thought and feeling into words. They write more than any generation has since the days when telephone calls were rare and the mailman rounded more than once a day" (Helderman, 2003). In her research, Gloria Jacobs has found that not only are students writing more than they have in years, but they are also revising and editing as well (O'Connor, 2005). “Jacobs said that too many adults dismiss online writing because they assume kids jot off anything that pops into their heads. While that is sometimes true, she said, she also saw teenagers read over messages before sending them, editing to clear up mistakes or imprecision... Liz [Charlton, a 13 year-old seventh grader] and her classmates said they will sometimes sit in front of a computer screen for up to 10 minutes, planning a sensitive message- wording and rewording" (Helderman, 2003). This process is also being shuffled off by technology, with AOL's recent advent of an email spell-check program.

It is a clear conclusion that IM is becoming an important literacy in kids' lives, and consequently one that needs to be recognized by teachers (O'Connor, 2005). A University of South Carolina- Aiken report declared that "the dilemma, then, is how to help educators adopt literacy education to the reality that instant messaging is the dominant mode of written communication in the lives of many American teenagers" (Brown-Owens, et al., 2003, p. 8). Erika Karres, a teacher educator, uses Internet language as an example of today's speech as she "shows students how English has evolved since Shakespeare's time" (Lee, 2002). In addition, Trisha Rogarty, a sixth-grade teacher, explains, "when [her students] are writing first drafts, I don't care how they spell anything, as long as they are writing... If this lingo gets their thoughts and ideas onto paper quicker, the more power to them" (2002). However, the same teacher indicates, "during editing and revising, she expects her students to switch to Standard English" (2002). Ultimately, "students need to understand the importance of using the appropriate language in the appropriate setting, and that who one is writing for affects the way in which one writes" (O'Connor, 2005). This should be the main focus of today's educators, because this trend shows no sign of ending any time soon.

Bibliography/Works Cited

Is Blogging Journalism?

Until recently, people had to rely on the traditional news outlets, print newspapers and television, for information on what was happening in their community, country, or world. The Internet changed the whole landscape of news reporting whether it was how reporters were getting their information or how the papers themselves were reaching the readers. Reporters have become able to uncover background information much more quickly than in times past and newspapers are able to relay that information on to the readers almost instantly. The thing that most traditional outlets fear, though, is that amateurs are stepping in and trying to do their jobs. Some anti-bloggists like Michael Skube, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning author who teaches journalism at Elon University in North Carolina, are strictly opposed to the idea of blogs and will allow them no credit as journalistic material (LA Times). Skube, who admits that he doesn't read blogs, told the Times, "I find myself doing something in my journalism class that gives me considerable unease... discussing that often truculent tribe that calls itself bloggers." I completely disagree with Skube's stance of blogging as journalism. As a child of the technological age, I have been brought up with the internet and primetime 24-hour news outlets; I am older than most of my classmates, though, and also believe that the traditional reporting of newspapers is the correct way to relay the news to the public. In my personal blogs I cover both aspects of news reporting; I track down sources (though I do it online mostly) and back up my observations with substantial facts while also inserting a person touch and my opinions on the topics that I choose to discuss. I may be different than most though, in the sense that I am a journalism student receiving education on the topic while most bloggers are just jumping into it blind, with little to no education or knowledge of writing and reporting the news. This is the freedom that the Internet allows society, though, and I believe it should be embraced, for better or worse.

In the USC Annenburg Online Journalism Review, J.D. Lasica, OJR Senior Editor, said, "a journalist is anyone who is an eyewitness to events or an interpreter of events and who reports it as honestly and accurately as possible. Period. You don't need to have the resources of The New York Times behind you. You can be a lone-wolf weblogger out there in the field with your Apple laptop, and when you blog an event you're reporting. We forget the derivation of the word journalism: someone who keeps a journal (USCA-OJR)." I love this definition. It sums up my feelings on blogging and journalism completely. I feel that if I was present at an event, and I blog it accurately; I was reporting that event, plain and simple. There is no other way to define the action and classic journalists shouldn't fear this new process of reporting, it should be embraced and enlisted by more professionals in the field. Maybe then we will get sincere reporting on events rather than template reports that are kept politically correct and conglomerate biased. I, for one, feel I am doing my part.

Bibliography/Works Cited

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Violence and Aggression in Sport

It has been said of sport, "It does not create the conditions for war, but it does maintain the possibility of those conditions, and adds its own efficiency to the other forces which produce a social order in which trails of strength are seen as part of the natural course of things" (Holt, 2000, p. 88). George Orwell (1950) once made the observation, "Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence; in other words it is war minus the shooting." Competitive sports, such as football, basketball, and baseball may involve aggressive tactics, but actual violence is considered to fall outside the boundaries of good sportsmanship. Contact sports, such as American football, ice hockey, rugby football, boxing, mixed martial arts, wrestling, and water polo involve certain levels of physical violence, but include restrictions and penalties for excessive and dangerous use of force. The overt physical actions that take place in sports can be described as both aggression and violence (Kerr, 2002, p. 68). These actions take place for many reasons, and can become dangerous to those participating in the sport, as well as spectators of the competition. These aspects of physical interaction between players/fans has been subdivided into two separate types of action (Brink, 1995). In describing the rugby union, Brink (1995) does a good job of highlighting the difference between the two types of aggression and violence:

Because the game is so relentless by its very nature, the borders between the permissible and the inadmissible are not always very clear-cut. Both are inherently violent. But surely the distinction between hard play and foul play lies in the resort of the latter to violence of an underhanded, malicious, treacherous kind. It is a condition of foul play that is not supposed to come to light, to be exposed, because it is not directed to the enfolding of the game but to the private goals of rage or revenge, to 'get at' a specific opponent, to 'prove' oneself. It foregrounds the individual, not the team. (p. 29)

In Brink's quote, the terms 'permissible ' and 'hard play' refer to acts of violence within the laws of rugby union. Conversely, 'inadmissible' and 'foul play' refer to acts of violence outside the laws of the game. (Kerr, 2002, p. 70) While trying to define aggression, behavior with intent to injure has been given great emphasis by some: (Tenenbaum, Sacks, Miller, Golden, & Doolin, 2000, p. 317)

Aggression is defined as the infliction of an adverse stimulus, physical, verbal, or gestural, upon one person by another. Aggression is not an attitude, but behavior and, most critically, it is committed with the intent to injure (LeUnes & Nation,1989). (Tenenbaum, Stewart, Singer, & Duda, 1997, p. 1)

Physically aggressive acts, like blocking in American Football, regular tackles in rugby, and body checks in ice hockey, can be ferociously violent actions yet be both within the rules of the games and not intended to injure. In addition, this critical element of intent to injure is controversial and not as all encompassing as Tenenbaum et al. (2000; and some others e.g., LeUnes & Nation, 1989) claim (Kerr, 2002, p. 70).

Violent and aggressive action outside the rules and regulations of game play, and the punishment regulated for such acts, is clearly apparent in the outcome of Marty McSorley's slash to Donald Brashear. Then Boston Bruin slashed then Vancouver Canuck Donald Brashear with a heavy blow from his stick on the side of his face. Brashear fell to the ice and the back of his head struck the ice, causing a grade three concussion and a grand malls seizure. Brashear was not near the puck at the time McSorley's unsanctioned violent act took place. In addition to receiving a one-year ban from playing, McSorley was prosecuted in a British Colombia court and found guilty of "assaulting Donald Brashear with a weapon, a hockey stick." The guilt verdict was based on the judge's decision that "Brashear was struck as intended" (p. 70). deciding 'intent' is an clear process, it is the subjective meaning of the particular behavior to the individual concerned that is important and, therefore, the only person who really knows whether or not there was any intent to injure is the person who carried out the action (Russell, 1993; Smith, 1983). Based on an interview with McSorley, Kennedy (2000) pointed out that McSorley was aiming his blow at Brashear's shoulder to provoke a fight and that he never meant to hit Brashear in the head. "'Yes I meant to slash him,' says McSorley, 'did I mean to hurt him with my stick? No.'" (Kennedy, 2000, p. 60). Video evidence confirms that his blow first struck Brashear on the shoulder before making contact with his face. Thus, although this was an act of unsanctioned aggression, if what McSorley said is true, it was not undertaken with the intent to injure. This aspect of violence and aggression creates an atmosphere of 'I didn't mean it' actions possibly being passed over as accidental, which could be extremely dangerous and unfair to the victim of the violent/aggressive act.

In attempting to produce a satisfactory definition of aggression and violence in sport, it is necessary to take into account the special status that sanctioned aggression and violence hold in sport, which distinguishes them from aggression and violence in most other contexts (Kerr, 2002, p. 71). Another definition of aggression and violence in sports as regards to the agreement for competition is:

In general, aggression can be seen as unprovoked hostility or attacks on another person which are not sanctioned by society. However, in the sports context, the aggression is provoked in the sense that the two opposing teams have willingly agreed to compete against each other. Aggression in team contact sports is intrinsic and sanctioned, provided the plays remain permissible within the boundaries of certain rules, which act as a kind of contract in the pursuit of aggression (and violence) between consenting adults (Kerr, 1997, p. 115-116).

Kerr (2002, p. 72) goes on to argue that, "controversial as it may sound", it should be reemphasized that sanctioned violence and aggression are a necessary part of team contact sports, and those who take part know that there are risks of physical injury and sometimes even death. This is similar to participation in other types of risk sport (e.g., skiing, snowboarding, motorcycle racing; Chirivella & Martinez, 1994; Cogan & Brown, 1998; Kerr, 1991; Zuckerman, 1983) where athletes also participate in spite of the high level of risk involved (Kerr, 2002, p. 72). Perceptive sports psychologists will recognize that sanctioned aggression and violence are a primary source of players' excitement, pleasure, and satisfaction and thus a major factor in their motivation for participation (Kerr, 1997; Novak, 1976; Russell, 1993). This argument was not made to exonerate unsanctioned aggression and violence but to understand the real nature of these sports (Kerr, 2002, p. 72).

Another argument on the cause of violence and aggression in sports is that socialization (i.e.; a learned response) is to blame (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). Socialization can take place through participation in sports since sports provide a microcosm for living and society. The structure of social relations in sports influences the participants' development of social skills. Researchers have striven to answer whether sports provides a positive outlet for, or teaches and reinforces, aggression (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). Human beings cannot live a fulfilling life in isolation, and can have more effective and healthy lives through association with others. This means that human beings must somehow learn how to live together. Socialization can take place through participation in sports since sports provide learning environments where participants have the opportunity to learn competition, cooperation, role-playing and discipline regarding rules, regulations, and goals (Bloom & Smith, 1996). In this sense, sports can be seen as a laboratory of human experience. The structure of social relations in organized sports can give participants experience in various roles and group interaction, and contribute to the development of social characteristics that integrate them into existing larger social structures (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005).

Unfortunately, a "win-at-all-costs" philosophy has often led to unethical and aggressive behaviors, impacting negatively and destructively on the development and well being of young athletes and of society at large. Researchers (e.g.; Arms, Russell, & Sandilands, 1979; Bredemeier, Weiss, Shields, & Cooper, 1986; Ewing, Gano-Overway, Branta, & Seefeldt, 2002; Guivernau & Duda, 2002; Terry & Jackson, 1985) have striven to answer whether sports provide a positive outlet for an instinctive drive of aggression or whether sport teaches and reinforces aggression through the highly competitive nature of many sport settings (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005).

Proponents of instinct theory such as Freudians argue that aggression is instinctive, and that vigorous physical activities provide cathartic benefits by releasing the pent-up emotions of participants. Sloan (1979, p.23) wrote, "Catharsis or reduction of aggression level will occur either by participating in an aggressive act or vicariously through watching acts of aggression by others. Thus, they [pent-up emotions] must be relieved periodically or erupt, producing catharsis in wither case (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). Minninger (1948) argued that competitive games provide a medium through which aggressive tendencies are discharged. Johnson and Hutton (1955) used the House-Tree-Person test to determine the cathartic effects of a combative sport by testing eight college wrestlers approximately three weeks before season, and again the morning after the competition. The findings revealed a cathartic effect as a result of competition (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005).

Although aggressive behaviors may sometimes provide catharsis, an opposing view is that participating in or viewing aggressive behaviors is more likely to elicit greater amounts of aggression than to result in decreased aggression (e.g.; Bandura & Waiters, 1974; Berkowitz, 1970; Geen, Stonner, & Shope, 1975). Gelfand and Hartmann (1982) found that participation in competitive games raised boys' and girls' levels of aggression, regardless of competition outcome (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). It was found that spectators also become more aggressive after observing the event. Bloom and Smith (1996) noted that violence in hockey often spills over into violence in other social settings for spectators as well. A slight increase in hostility has also been found for non-contact and non-aggressive sports (Arms, et al., 1979; Goldstein & Arms, 1971). And, Zillman, Katcher, and Milvasky (1972) found that even vigorous physical exercise using a bicycle-ergometer could enhance aggressive tendencies (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005).

The frustration-aggression hypothesis has been proposed to explain human aggressive behaviors, maintaining that aggression is caused by frustration (Bird & Cripe, 1986; Gill, 1986; Husman & Silva, 1984). In this view, frustration occurs due to the blocking of one's efforts to achieve goals. Critics of the frustration-aggression hypothesis have questioned whether all frustration causes aggression. Although frustration sometimes leads to aggressive behavior, a direct casual relationship between frustration and aggression cannot always be claimed (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). In sport context, the losing of a game can be an important factor eliciting frustration. Evidence cited by Martin (1976) supported the contention that competitive sport generates either catharsis or increased aggression, depending upon the outcome of the game. Martin administered the Rosenzweig Picture-Frustration Study to 32 male undergraduate students to determine the impact of winning and losing on participants' aggression: Individual sport athletes experienced more frustration than did team athletes upon losing; yet participants of both type of sport enjoyed reduction of aggression when they won (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). Further, Reyes and Lorant (2001) administered the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire to 150 8-year-old children who were beginning martial arts training. They found that only the children who were receiving judo training did not score more aggressive; those receiving other forms of martial arts training did in fact score more aggressive (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005).

Social learning theory maintains that aggression is a behavior learned through the processes of reinforcement and modeling (Bandura, 1973; Bloom & Smith, 1996). In this view, participation in sports may teach and/or reinforce either aggression or sportsmanship. Alland (1972) observed a Pacific people, the Samai of Malaysia. Since the Samai did not express any aggressive behavior when a role model of aggression was absent, Alland concluded that aggression is not instinctive. In this view, sports can serve as a medium for teaching and reinforcing sportsmanship and moral reasoning, with aggression and unsportsmanlike behaviors occurring primarily in response to adverse and "dog-eat-dog" situations and to sport situations involving leadership (coaches, etc.) who do not discourage aggression or support sportsmanship in the participants (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005).

Some argue that athletes tend to be more unsportsmanlike than their non-athlete counterparts, and that a long period of involvement and high degree of physical contact in sports impacts negatively on participants' moral reasoning (Bloom & Smith, 1996). Gardner and Janelle (2002) asked athletes and non-athletes to judge the legitimacy of overtly aggressive acts performed by both contact and non-contact sports participants. They found judgments legitimizing aggressive behavior to be inversely related to the respondents' moral reasoning (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). Bredemeier, et al. (1986) conducted a study with 106 children at a summer sport camp and found that participation in high contact sports was associated with greater aggression and with lower levels of moral reasoning. Similarly, Belier and Stol (1995) found that high school non-athletes scored significantly higher in terms of moral reasoning than did high school athletes. Treasure (2002) argued that participating in sports with the wrong kind of coaching could have devastating lifelong impacts on a child's moral development. Guivernau and Duda (2002) interviewed 194 soccer players, 13 through 19 years of age. They found that regardless of gender, the players reported that they would be more likely to be aggressive if they thought their coaches supported such behaviors (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). Both Guivernau & Duda and Stephens (2000) found players' perceived team pro-aggressive norms were the best predicator of the players' likelihood to aggress. From these studies, it can be argued that unsportsmanlike behaviors of young athletes are learned and reinforced depending upon the type of sport and leadership of coaches (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). On the other hand, Loughhead and Leith (2001) interviewed and observed hockey players (10 to 15 years of age) and their coaches, and found that, regardless of age, players' views were unrelated to coaches' views on aggression (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005).

Conversely, research studies have revealed a positive correlation between sportsmanlike behavior and moral growth when both quality leadership environments that support behavior and growth were guaranteed. Geibink and MacKenzie (1985) used three intervention strategies (instruction and praise, modeling, and a point system) to investigate the effects on children's sportsmanship through a 22-day recreational basketball class (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). They found that with each strategy, un-sportsmanlike behavior (e.g., fighting, cheating) was reduced yet there was little increase in sportsmanship (e.g., congratulating opponent winners). The point system with contingent reinforcers was most effective in producing positive changes (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). Silverman's (1998) study suggested curriculum (in particular, "Fair Play For Kids' curriculum) was effective in promoting moral development in young children enrolled in physical education.

One can assume that an athlete who experiences competitive situations under quality leaderships and healthy environments is more capable of coping with aggression-inducing situations than his or her counterparts. Thirer (1993; 1978) asked female athletes and non-female athletes to view a violent film and to complete an aggressive attitude inventory before and after viewing. Thirer found that athletes displayed a non-significant change in aggressive attitude score pre- to post-viewing whereas non-athletes showed a significant increase in their score (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). This finding supports social learning theory and implies that athletes are less vulnerable to aggression-inducing situations. Furthermore, Daniels and Thornton's (1989) study revealed that combative sports could possibly serve to reduce hostility under good leadership. Smith, Watson, Ficher, and Sung (2003) conducted a longitudinal study with 325 children aged 7 to 14. In determining whether socio-demographic variables affect trajectories of aggressive behavior in middle childhood, they found family environment and temperament variables had a greater impact than did socio-economic factors (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). It can be contended that sport participation facilitates and teaches sportsmanship and moral reasoning if quality leaderships and environments are provided.

It can be suggested that positive behavior changes in children are assured when children are positively reinforced and exposed to quality role models. Conversely, aggressive and unsportsmanlike behavior is likely to increase under the lack of good leadership, especially when young athletes are involved in highly competitive sport (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). Aggression or sportsmanship can be learned and/or reinforced by significant others, the structure of sport, and the society's attitude (Terry & Jackson, 1985). Loopholes in sport rules and inconsistencies in rule application may trigger reinforcement of aggressive behavior. In addition, practices by some sports marketers are related to the use of violence for selling products (Jones, Ferguson, & Stewart, 1993). According to the findings of Russell (1986), violence may not increase box office receipts.

The underlying motivation for violence in hockey has been the source of some debate (Stewart, Ferguson, & Jones, 1992). A number of social scientists have argued that hockey violence reflects cultural values; some Canadian literati maintain that hockey violence meets the need for national "release," calling it "the counterpart of Canadian self restraint" (Beardsley, 1987, p. 133). The official NHL view is that fighting is primarily spontaneous and a useful cathartic reaction to a physical game (Eitzen, 1985, p. 103). To some degree all of this may be true. Economists, however, work on the assumption that economic agents (leagues and teams) are interested in their own concerns (profit maximization), and, therefore, their behavior can be explained principally by economic factors (Stewart, Ferguson, & Jones, 1992). Indeed, Ferguson, Jones, Stewart, and LeDressay (1991) found considerable support for the hypothesis that hockey teams act as profit-maximizes. In this context, violence can be considered a "good characteristic," an attribute of the product. Another study was also done to explain why hockey fans would possibly join a crowd disturbance (Russell and Arms, 1998). This study consisted of having male ice hockey fans (N = 78) completed a battery of biographical, social, cognitive, and individual differences measures that has previously been administered piecemeal to spectators found in attendance at games. Participants' self-reported likelihood of joining in a crowd disturbance served as the dependent measure. The individual differences measures included physical aggression, anger, impulsivity, psychopathy, sensation seeking, and public self-consciousness (1998). All but public self-consciousness was positively related to subjects' likelihood of escalating a disturbance. Participants' age, number of accompanying males, the false consensus effect, number and recency of fights, and attending in anticipation of watching player fights were also related to the dependent measure (1998). The time since the participant was last in a fight and liking to watch player fights emerged as significant predicators. This study shows the promoting affect that fighting in hockey has on spectator violence.

Aggression or sportsmanship can be learned and reinforced in many different ways. multiple reasons rather than a single one influence such behaviors. Reinforcement and modeling of aggressive behaviors and/or sportsmanship but parents, coaches, referees, peers, and the media influence their reoccurrence. Young athletes need positive, appropriate and constructive role models to teach and reinforce sportsmanship and moral reasoning (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). The coach is perhaps the most significant person influencing the amount of aggressive or sportsmanlike behaviors displayed in the competitive sport context (Conan, 1980; Cratty, 1983; King, 1990; Terry & Jackson 1985). Smith (1983) reported that nine percent of hockey players (N=166) between the ages of 12 to 13 perceived their coaches as approvers of hockey violence. The role of referees has also been identified as a significant factor affecting athletes' subsequent behaviors (Lefebve, Leith, & Bredemeier, 1980). Failure of referees to correct an athlete’s aggressive behavior may reinforce and increase the probability of reoccurrence (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). Parents sometimes push their children into competitive sports. They may wish to realize their personal, unfulfilled desires through their children, or to have their children exposed to excessive competition, believing it is appropriate preparation for later, adult life (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005). Pagelow (1984) noted that aggressive children tend to have aggressive parents and that parents can be strong role models of aggression. Similarly, Freishlag and Schmidke (1979) stressed the importance of parents' influences on young athletes' moral reasoning (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005).

The potential role of media should be recognized in moderating aggression in sports (Lefebvre, et al., 1980). The broadcaster should identify aggressive and un-sportsmanlike behaviors immediately in terms of rule regulations and sportsmanship conduct. Sullivan's (1991) study explored the impact of television commentary on viewers' perceptions and enjoyment of player hostility, including violent behavior, in the context of a less combative sport. Effects of fanship, gender, and varying levels of commentary (dramatic, neutral, no commentary) we tested. A videotape of a heated Georgetown versus Syracuse men's college basketball game provided stimulus material, with the dramatic commentary treatment contradicting the visual evidence as to which team was the aggressor (1991). Strong medium effects were reveled, with viewers of the dramatic commentary treatment perceiving Syracuse players as being significantly more hostile, in line with the manipulation. Men were more likely than women to enjoy the fighting in the game segment, but fans' perceptions of opponent hostility were as vulnerable to the biased commentary as those of non fans (1991).

Three seminal studies examined bias in commentary and its relationship to viewer responses to player hostility (Sullivan, 1991). Comisky, Bryant, and Zillman (1977) and Bryant, Comisky, and Zillman (1981) found that appreciation, including enjoyment, of heavy contact sports contests (professional hockey and professional football, respectively) is facilitated by roughness, enthusiasm, and violence of play, and that commentary alters viewer perception of rough play (Sullivan, 1991). It is important to note that the stimulus material used in these studies was game action that, regardless of intensity, reflects normative player behavior for hockey and football and is clearly within the scope of the game's rules. The third study on commentary bias (Bryant, Brown, Comsiky, & Zillman, 1982) manipulated the affective relationship between players rather than roughness of play. Bryant, et al. (1982) varied commentary to manipulate the affective relationship between tennis players, finding that increases in perceived enmity, intensity of play, and competitiveness between opponents contributes to viewer enjoyment (Sullivan, 1991).

Since television most often mediates this intense fan experience of sport (Bellamy, 1989; Eastman & Meyer, 1989), commentators serve a central role in influencing public perceptions of violence in sports contests. The chief role of commentary traditionally has been narrative in function (Sullivan, 1991). In this role, commentators use a set of descriptive narrative modes- objective, judgmental, and historical- to tell the game story (Morris & Nydahl, 1983). In its objective mode, commentary complements the camera by summarizing what has occurred in the game. In the judgmental mode, commentary assigns motivations to player and team performance and player behavior (Sullivan, 1991). Commentary that places players, teams, and game sin historical perspective typically relies on biographical material and statistical comparisons. Descriptive narration demonstrates the commentator's credibility as game expert. Commentators, for example, borrow liberally from the descriptive language of the locker-room; cued by jock jargon, viewers believe they are getting "shop talk" (Snyder & Spreitzer, 1983)

Bryant and Zillman (1983) note that rough and aggressive action would represent "human conflict at its peak, and intense conflict is the heart and soul of high drama" (p. 7). By extension, violence can be considered the ultimate in human sports conflict with increases in viewer enjoyment corresponding to increases in the likelihood of serious injury to the athletes (Sullivan, 1991). The fight fan cherished the heavyweight who delivers the knockout, the football fan idolizes the linebacker who wrecks quarterbacks, and the hockey fan cheers the defense man who uses his elbows in the corners and his fists around the goalmouth. Players' violence attests to their will to win (Sullivan, 1991). The nature of heavy contact sports, the rules that govern such sports, media attention, the lack of punitive deterrents to fighting, and American society's emphasis on outcome rather than process all contribute to players' use of violence. in contact sports, coaches and players perceive the use of intimidation and aggression as a vital ingredient to winning (Swift, 1986). In programs that emphasize win-loss records, players are more likely to use intimidation through violence (Smith, 1978; Tyler & Duthie, 1979).

Some research has been done into whether sports do enough to deter from player and fan violence (Nagel, Southall, & O'Toole, 2004). This study was designed to identify the punishments levied for unacceptable player behaviors by the four major North American professional sport leagues from 1995 through 1999. The sample was the players from the sample leagues for the same time period. Punishment means and occurrences for identified player behaviors were calculated and league punishment occurrences were analyzed for equivalence using a Chi Square Goodness of Fit Test (2004). Results indicated that the most common league punishment occurrences were responses to player behaviors 'Fighting' and 'Intimidation'. In addition, 81% of Major League Baseball's responses resulted in a punishment of $0.00 (2004). The studies results strongly suggest the four major North American professional sport leagues use punishment as a public relations tool and not as a meaningful deterrent to player behaviors. Lapchick (1996) has contended that the punishment for professional athletes' violence in sports must be harsh enough to reduce and deter such violence. According to Lapchick, "Fines are useless for players making more than $1 million each year" (p. 192). Appropriate and effective ways for sanctioning athletes must be determined (Nucci & Young-Shim, 2005).

Using violent language could also encourage aggressive and violent behaviors. Wren (1991) made a strong comparison of using violent language to smoking:

Language, like tobacco, is habit forming. Some patterns of writing and speaking are addictive and may damage both the user and the others who breathe the same linguistic atmosphere. If we can see the damage being done and decide to kick the habit, we may get withdrawal symptoms and hostility or derision from other smokers. But in the end, we shall enjoy breathing fresh air (Holt, 2000, p. 102)

The language used in sports print journalism is also evident of the connection of violence and sports (Holt, 2000). Particularly since the 1985 Heysel Stadium soccer massacre, even some sports journalists have begun to view violence in sport as problematical. Dwyre (1996), for example, reflecting on a long career as a reporter of sporting events in the US, concluded: "Sportswriters tend to view sports-related violence such as fights between opposing team members, vicious boxing matches, and assaults on players as part of the game rather than an intolerable an offensive incident. Violence in sports should not be so easily tolerated" (Holt, 2000). Writing in Sports Illustrated, Wulf (1988), in similar vein, criticized the president of the US national ice-hockey league for denying that the league was prone to violence while at the same time marketing videos with titles like; "Brand New. Part 4. Hockey's Bloodiest Fights and Knockouts'. or '165 Hours of Good Quality Hockey Fights'.

Holt's (2000, p. 89) study consisted of a sample of ten per cent of the annual diet of newspaper sport reporting of the inhabitants of New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, being examined from the point of view of the most salient features of language for a period of 35 consecutive days (five calendar weeks - 1 June to 5 July). In sifting the language of the sports supplements in both newspapers (New Zealand Herald and Sunday Star Times), it was clear that many of the characteristics of journalistic style generally were present; these included: dramatization of headlines (e.g., 'Kiwis Light Up Night'); idiomatic and emotive diction (e.g., 'The game is screaming out for guidance on what has become an extremely ugly turn of events'); the blurring of the border between information and entertainment; the meshing of visual images with concept, including advertising layout; simplification or trivialization of content; and the use of clich├ęs and catch-phrases (e.g., 'on-a-roll captain finds X's Achilles heel') (2000, p. 90). The most salient or distinctive element of journalistic style for sports reporting in the present sample was found to be images of violence. This study did not concern itself with the relatively innocuous terms that have long been assimilated into the normal, basic vocabulary of sport, such as: 'to win, to beat, victory over, to defeat, to lose, etc.'. These refer to an underlying metaphor of ‘battle’, which reflects the competitive nature of sports generally, but through time, common usage and familiarity have achieved the status of 'dead' or 'frozen' metaphors that are taken more or less literally (2000, p. 90). Rather, this study was concerned with more consciously graphic images that have not (or, not yet) lost the true metaphor's relative vividness of effect.

Examination of the 35 separate sports supplements/sections revealed the images to be focused on four major metaphorical complexes. The one most frequently occurring has been simply labeled 'violence' and concerned language used to evoke related notions along a spectrum from injury to killing. All three main classes of content-words (nouns, verbs, and adjectives) are widely used, with a slight preponderance of verbs. The next most frequent complex was a 'military' metaphor, which also incorporated associated terms from semantic fields like 'hunting' or the 'cowboy Western'. In this particular word sample nouns and verbs tended to be roughly equal in number, with adjectives being largely absent, suggesting semantically a relatively equal emphasis on process and product aspects. The third most frequent key metaphor discovered was that of 'mechanization' or 'machinery'. The word usage in this sample follows the patterns of the previous sample. The final complex related closely to the machine-metaphor, but differed in that it went a step further by representing particular body parts as machine parts; what one might term a 'robotic' model (2000, p. 93). The significance of the machinification-metaphor represents an attempt to camouflage the true physical effects of violence; as Bataille noted: '(language can often substitute) the appearance of a solution for the insoluble, and a screen for violent truth.'

Bibliography/Works Cited

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Detective Fiction and the 'Hard-Boiled' Genre

When Raymond Chandler wrote about the emotional basis of the new 'hard-boiled' detective story, I believe that he described the 'hard-boiled' detectives and their stories perfectly. All the early detectives solved mysteries like machines, almost never touching on the natural human emotions to solve the case, but instead relying on their heightened knowledge and what sometimes comes across as a sixth sense. The 'Classic' detectives (i.e Holmes and Dupin) always had the knowledge that was necessary for solving the mystery at hand and wanted nothing else but the satisfaction of the solution itself. At times, there appears no other reason for these men to exist other than solving 'crimes' with the help of their friend/right hand man (Watson or Poe's 'Narrator'). The 'hard-boiled' detectives seem to approach their cases haphazardly, with minimal knowledge of the situation. They rely on gut instinct and a 'brawn over brains' style of deduction that separates them (Spade, Marlowe, Archer) from the 'classic' sleuths. Chandler said, "If you know all you should know about ceramics and Egyptian needlework, you don't know anything at all about the police." (The Simple Art of Murder, 1950). I agree with this idea that Holmes' extensive knowledge of ashes wouldn't count for anything on the new age 'mean streets' of 'hard-boiled' fiction.

The 'classic' detectives not only possessed knowledge that the average person would not, but it seems that they also had far fewer loose ends to tie up due to the settings in which the authors placed them. While the 'hard-boiled' private eyes are following up leads in the big cities, with some of the lowest people on earth, the 'classic' detectives are off in the countryside dealing with, at the worst, an escaped convict. These criminal figures make up the majority of players in 'hard-boiled' mysteries. "We spend more time in Miami hotels and Cape Cod summer colonies and go not so often down by the old gray sundial in the Elizabethan garden." (The Simple Art of Murder, 1950). This is a point most recognized when looking back into "The Moonstone", where Mr. Franklin Blake can be found walking down the garden path more than once in Betteredge's narrative.

Not only is the 'hard-boiled' story told in a new setting, it is told about different types of people. The Baskervilles of Homles' 'Hound' and the Verinders of 'The Moonstone' are people of wealth and elegance, people that would have no place in the slums of Hollywood or Los Angeles with the 'smut peddlers' and 'grifters', like Gutman or Geiger. Chandler commented on the 'English-style' of detective stories as "... not quite so brittle and the people as a rule just wear clothes and drink drinks." (The Simple Art of Murder, 1950). One couldn't imagine Miss Rachel acting the way that the Sternwood girls did in 'The Big Sleep', because Collins was writing about a different time and very different people than Chandler. "But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet and unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor- by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in this world and a good enough man for any world." (The Simple Art of Murder, 1950).

This description of the 'hard-boiled' detective is the most complete take on the subject. Even though Spade has some connection with Brigid, in Hammett's 'Falcon', he still has to bring her in to the authorities. "She did kill Miles...," Spade tells his secretary Effie. Thats how the 'hard-boiled' detective works, on a strict code. "Thats the way it is," Marlowe tells Vivian Regan in Chandler's 'Big Sleep', "Kissing is nice, but your father didn't hire me to sleep with you," and the honorable man shows through in the end.

Keeping a balanced outlook on life, and sports...

As the 2002 Winter Olympics closed, the whole world witnessed the Canadian Men’s Ice Hockey Team defeat the Americans to capture the gold medal. As is expected, there are many different journalistic approaches to reporting the outcome of this game; three articles about it make these different approaches clear.

The first article, titled “After a 50 year wait, Canada has gold medal again,” appeared in the New York Times and seems to reflect the Americans view of the game. Starting with the title, which makes it a point to mention the 50 years since Canada’s last gold, the whole article is biased towards the Americans. The title is biased because it directly comments on the long span since Canada’s last gold medal in it’s national pastime. It is almost a shot at the Canadians, questioning their ability in the game they love. The article excuses the American team multiple times, which is made clear when the author says, “Defenseman Brian Rafalski fell with an apparent skate problem.” The way that the author presents this event shows his biased view of the game. The article also points out the fact that “Canada caught a break by facing Belarus, a weak opponent…” while it makes the excuse for the Americans by stating, “But the Americans had to play a later game against a stronger team from Russia…” It becomes obvious that he was a fan of the American team and was trying to make some excuses for them. By quoting US Captain Chris Chelios, “Yesterday, Mario’s quote said it was his game, or Canada’s game. We’ve listened to that. It might be the only game that they’re very good at, except for curling and a couple of other things. All kidding aside, they’re a proud group of players,” the author can give the article an American bias without coming out and saying it in his own words. The choice of this quote lets him present his own opinion of the game without saying, “I think…”

On the other side of this story, is the Canadians view on the outcome of the game. An article in The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, shows an entirely different view of this game. The headline reads, “Canada will look at ’02 as golden,” which is a more positive way to look at the Canadian victory than how the N.Y. Times portrayed it. Following the positive angle, the first paragraph gives Canada credit by saying, “a new date was added to the country’s long and enduring hockey history” The author then makes it a point to tell the readers “there were as many people cheering for the visiting Canadians as there were for the home side.” The Canadian bias shows through when the author mentions, “U.S. Coach Herb Brooks thought his team looked ‘more tired’ because it had a more difficult path to the final.” The author’s choice of this quote shows his bias, because he could have mentioned how the American’s clearly had a harder route to the finals on his own, but instead he chose to use Brooks’ words against himself, portraying him to the readers as the coach that makes excuses when his team loses.

Presenting a more unbiased view on this game, I chose and article titled “Young and old lead Canada to gold” from This article shows a broad view of the whole game and of the back-stories on both teams, not favoring either. The article mentions Canada’s “50 year wait” and the end to the U.S. team’s “70 year unbeaten streak” making it clear that both teams had a significant event occur due to the outcome of this game and not making one sound more important than the other. The author does mention that “Canada had an easy route to the final, beating only Germany, Finland and Belarus, while the Americans twice played bronze medallist Russia,” but unlike the other articles, this is presented as pure fact without the quote that would have given the article a biased towards either country.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Study of Political Bias in the National Media.

Research Question:
Does the media provide balanced coverage of both Democrat and Republican news?

There will be similar amounts of coverage for Democrat and Republican news

A keyword search, using the Vanderbilt Television News Archive, was conducted on February 20, 2008. Four keywords were chosen as parameters for this search. Those keywords were chosen for their relevance to this particular study and were documented as follows:
1. 'democrat' or 'democrats'
2. 'republican' or 'republicans'
3. 'democrat' or 'democrats' and 'republican' or 'republicans'

Further parameters were set for this keyword search. They are as follows:
· Only those broadcast in the month of January, in the year 2008
· Exclude Commercials

The Archive was searched for ALL NETWORKS, which include; ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, PBS, FOX, MSNBC, CSPAN, CNBC, and UNIV. No results were returned from PBS, CSPAN, CNBC, or UNIV during any search. Results were sorted by 'Network' to further investigate coverage patterns; the intent was to determine whether one government party receives more news coverage on certain stations than the other.

1. The search for keywords 'democrat' or 'democrats' returned 68 items (CHART- D1 and D2); where either of these words can be found in the Title or the Abstract for a particular broadcast. The complete list of results for this search fell under 'Evening News.' The search returned broadcasts from four of the ten possible Networks. They were distributed as follows: ABC, 22; CBS, 11; CNN, 28; NBC, 6 (CHART- D1). The percentage of coverage was formulated by the 'Create-A-Graph' program, and returned the following data: ABC, 32.84%; CBS, 16.42%; CNN, 41.79%; and NBC, 8.96% (CHART- D2)



2. The search for keywords 'republican' or 'republicans' returned 130 items (CHART- R1 and R2); where either of these words can be found In the Title or the Abstract for a particular broadcast. The list of results for this search fell under either 'Evening News' or 'Special Program.' 'Evening News' accounted for all but 21 of the broadcasts. The search returned broadcasts from six of the ten possible Networks. They were distributed as follows: ABC, 41; CBS, 15; CNN, 58; NBC, 8; FOX, 3; and MSNBC, 3 (CHART- R1). The percentage of coverage was formulated by the 'Create-A-Graph' program, and returned the following data: ABC, 32.03%; CBS, 11.72%; CNN, 45.31%; NBC, 6.25%; FOX, 2.34%; and MSNBC, 2.34% (CHART- R2).



3. The search for keywords 'democrat' or 'democrats' and 'republican' or 'republicans' returned 153 items (CHART- C1 and C2); where either of these words can be found together in the Title or the Abstract for a particular broadcast. The list of results fell under either 'Evening News' or 'Special Program.' 'Evening News' accounted for all but 21 of the broadcasts. The search returned broadcasts from six of the possible ten Networks. They were distributed as follows: ABC, 50; CBS, 20; CNN, 65; NBC, 9; FOX, 3; and MSNBC, 3 (CHART- C1). The percentage of coverage was formulated by the 'Create-A-Graph' program, and returned the following data: ABC, 33.33%; CBS, 13.33%; CNN, 43.33%; NBC, 6%; FOX, 2%, and MSNBC, 2% (CHART- C2).


When reviewing the collected data, it initially appears that the Republican party receives more television coverage than the Democratic party. The Republican search returned 62 more items that the Democratic search. When broken down into percentages, though, it becomes clear that the amount of coverage per station stays somewhat constant between the two parties; for example, the Democratic search shows ABC accounting for 32.84% of its broadcasts, while the Republican search returned 32.03% for the same station. This perception is further negated when both searches were run simultaneously, returning 153 of the 198 total items gathered from the archive.

This shows that coverage between stations is somewhat balanced; exceptions to these findings are FOX and MSNBC, which failed to return data in the Democratic search, but returned the same items in both the Republican and the Combined searches. These findings also fell into the minority of 'Special Programs.'
Further research should be done into the amount of time devoted to each party to determine if this data can reveal any other patterns in coverage between stations, but at this time, it appears that the national media devotes nearly the same amount of coverage to both Political Parties.

We're watching you. But why?

The selection of media news outlets is directly related to the uses and gratifications approach to mass communication research, audience motivations and the various criteria which may be used in selecting media messages for attention (Garramone, 1985). It has been widely discussed that viewers tend to seek out information that is similar to their own beliefs (Xiang, 2007).

The uses and gratifications approach to mass communication research focuses on the audience because people select and use media to satisfy their needs and desires. A central concern of uses and gratifications research, then, is people’s motivation for using mass communication. Researchers are interested in what influences the reasons people use mass media and how different motives lead people to select different content (Perse, 1990).

The reason’s why viewers choose Fox News (FNC) or CNN are somewhat clarified in the following studies; Gina M. Garramone: Motivation and Selective Attention to Political Information Formats; Douglas A. Ferguson and Elizabeth M. Perse: Media and audience influences on channel repertoire; Elizabeth M Perse: Predicting Attention to Local Television News: Need for Cognition and Motives for Viewing; Michael Pfau, Patricia Moy, and Erin Alison Szabo: Influence of Primetime Television Programming on Perceptions of the Federal Government; Lawrence A. Wenner: Political News on Television: A closer look at audience use and avoidance orientations; and Yi Xiang: News consumption and media bias.

The study of attention to local television news presented information on the hypothesized relations between local news viewing motives and attention to sports reports and government reports (Perse, 1990). This questionnaire study had the intentions of examining how different reasons for watching local news leads to attention toward different parts of the newscast; and testing how need for cognition, a personality trait that directs people to enjoy thinking, influences motives for watching local news (1990). Three reasons were given why local news was the specific focus of the study. First, local news is broadcast several times a day, attracting a variety of different viewers who compromise a large audience. Second, local news is reported to be more widely watched that network news (Comstock, 1989; Perse, 1990). Finally, local news focuses on a wide range of topics; such as government, news, crime, human interests, sports, weather, and investigative reports (Perse, 1990).This study aims to show that motivation, a central concept in uses and gratifications, leads to media selection. It is successful in relating motivation for watching local news to selective attention toward different parts of the newscast. Specifically, utilitarian viewing motives (viewing to gain information for personal or social use) lead to attention toward local news government reports while Pass-Time viewing motives (viewing because there is nothing better to do or watch) lead to avoidance of local government news (Palmgreen et al., 1980; Rubin, Perse, and Powell, 1985; Perse, 1990). This is important in the study of why Democrats and Republicans choose FCN/CNN because it explains that the viewer’s motivation for choosing to watch the news is related to what they will watch.

More information on this topic is revealed when selectivity of strictly political formats are studied. Several examples for selectivity include the perceived objectivity of the message, the extent to which the message agrees with their opinions, its timeliness, its topics, and the media source or format by which it is conveyed (Garramone, 1985). Motivations for paying attention to political content in the media are placed in two categories; surveillance/ vote guidance and diversion (Blumler, 1979; Garramone, 1985). An audience member with a surveillance/vote guidance orientation uses the mass media for general review of the political environment and for information needed to make voting decisions. The most obvious diversion provided by campaign information is the “horse-race” excitement of media coverage. However, the use of political information for casual conversation may also be conceptualized as largely diversionary (Garramone). Research indicates that most political discussions are not aimed at persuasion, but rather focus on the “game” aspect of the election (Patterson, 1980; Garramone, 1985). This study claims that surveillance/ vote guidance-motivated individuals should select information based on its usefulness for making vote decisions. Diversion-motivated individuals, on the other hand, should choose information based on its excitement or conversational value (Garramone, 1985). Results of the factor analysis indicate that people selectively attend to presidential campaign information based on editorial (live coverage, news reports, journalists’ opinion, etc…) format, rather than it’s originating (speech, debate, interview, etc…) format (1985). This research relates to the FCN/CNN question in two ways. First, viewers may choose a specific station because of the formats used by that station, not their own beliefs (political affiliation). Secondly, Garramone agrees with Perse and Xiang in the idea that viewers tend to watch programs that share their beliefs and moral standing.

Further clarification on this topic is gained from a telephone survey that was conducted to examine the television viewing patterns and motivations of 615 respondents through channel repertoire (Ferguson and Perse, 1993). Channel repertoire was divided into two categories: Total Channel Repertoire (TCR) and Mindful Channel Repertoire (MCR). TCR was defined as the number of channels viewers watched, using aided recall (a list of available channels was presented to the subjects and they designated which channels they watched). MCR was further defined as those channels identified by viewers through unaided recall (unprompted). The findings indicate that TCR is related to media and audience factors, while intentionality was a significant positive predictor of MCR (Ferguson and Perse, 1993). TCR is related to the number of channels offered (Webster and Lichty, 1991), while MCR is generally smaller than TCR (Greenberg, Heeter, and Lin, 1988). Television viewing motives are a primary signal of audience activity (Rubin, 1984). Ritualistic television use, which is marked by watching to pass time or out of habit, is a nonselective and less active use of television that focuses on using television as a medium, not specific content. Instrumental use, on the other hand, reflects selective and purposive exposure to specific content (Rubin and Perse, 1987). These results correspond with the FNC/CNN study by showing that channel availability and viewing motives play roles in the viewer’s choice of media outlet.

These studies have shown that a viewer’s decision for choosing a specific media outlet is directly related to many different social and personal parameters that are different for most subjects. Simply taking into consideration one’s political affiliation is clearly not enough to determine why they choose the news outlet that they do. Selective exposure, through seeking like opinions, is the most obvious choice for why the viewers would choose the specific broadcast that they watch, but it is only a portion of the reasoning behind the actual choice.

Bibliography/Works Cited

Is our use of Mass Communications inhibiting our culture with too much entertainment?

Mass Communications drives our country. Its mediums serve as sources where people obtain their information. Recent trends show that a decline in content may be a social problem for the United States.

It's not unusual for an American to admit that other countries have a negative view of our culture, or what they perceive to be our culture. In a book titled Learning to hate Americans: How the U.S. media shape negative opinions among teen-agers in twelve countries, Marvin L. DeFleur found that of the twelve countries surveyed (Argentina; Bahrin; China; Italy; Lebanon; Mexico; Nigeria; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; South Korea; Spain; and Taiwan) only Argentina showed a positive outlook on American culture (Times, pop programs). American pop culture has branded all American culture as violent, corrupt and scandalous in the eyes of other cultures. The actual problem with this perception is that depending on where you look, the culture may directly reflect an image of pop culture stereotype. FOX's The OC or MTV's Laguna Beach (a "reality" show based on the lives of Californian teens) clearly reflect lifestyles that can sometimes project a negative image. The sensational plots that company agenda-setters formulate to draw in audiences are taken as actual portrayals of American culture by people in other countries. This limited exposure to American culture does a very poor job of representing how many Americans would view themselves in society. "Using the lessons of the media product, they [teens from other countries] learn to hate Americans because they seem like despicable people," said DeFleur (Times).

Another trend that is affecting American culture is the over use of foul language, especially by people in positions of influence. While comedians like Denis Leary, George Carlin and of course Andrew "Dice" Clay have used excessive profanity in their performances, recent political heads such as George W. Bush and John Kerry have been caught on record using profane language. Senator John Kerry was quoted saying, "Did I expect George Bush to [expletive deleted] it up as bad as he did?" (Christian Century, foul words). This comment on how Bush handled the war in Iraq is a direct example of how 'curse' words are used by nearly everybody in American culture. President Bush himself was caught referring to a New York Times reporter as a "Major league [expletive deleted]-hole" (Christian Century). Even peace advocate Bono, of U2 fame, dropped the "F-bomb" at the Golden Globes causing them to air the ceremony on a five minute delay (Christian Century). This use of coarse language negatively affects America’s youth and poses great social risks.

Jay Winsten, a professor at Harvard's School of Public Health, has utilized America’s pop culture to battle negative trends in society. He believes attitudes and behaviors can be changes by popular culture, and especially by TV (Chronicle of Higher Education, using pop culture). His work on popular shows of influence, such as Beverly Hills 90210, greatly influenced views in issues like domestic violence and drunk driving. His work even spurred Random House Webster's College dictionary to add a reference listing for the phrase "designated driver" in 1991 (Chronicle of Higher Education). Violent video games like Rock star’s Grand Theft Auto series and glorified violence in "gangster" rap music have attributed to a more violent society and changes need to be made because the street fights of our fathers (or possibly our grand-fathers), which seem like child’s play in comparison, are being replaced with drive-bys and random acts of violence like the Colorado and Montreal school shootings, which are viewed as a decline in society.

Mass Communications provides us with an outlet for change and a decision has to be made (by the people in power) whether this change is going to be for the better or for the worse. This decision needs to made quickly because if these negative trends continue to escalate, there may be no way to reverse the damage done to our image in the world and America’s actual values and morals.

Bibliography/Works Cited

What is the nature of the relationship between media and society?

Mass media usually are thought of as sources of news and entertainment. They also carry messages of persuasion. Important, though often overlooked, is how mass messages bind people into communities, even into nations.

Mass media are pervasive in modern life. Every morning millions of Americans wake up to clock radios. Political candidates spend most of their campaign dollars on television ads to woo voters. The United States economy depends on advertising to create mass markets. American children see unprecedented numbers of commercial messages a year. Through the mass media we learn almost everything we know beyond our immediate surroundings. What would we know of Baghdad or Tikrit or the Super Bowl if it were not for newspapers, television and other mass Medias? (Miller).

The mass media bind communities together by giving messages that become a shared experience. In the United States, a rural newspaper editor scrambling to get an issue out may not be thinking about how his work creates a common identity among readers, but it does. The town newspaper is something everyone in town has in common. A shared knowledge and a shared experience are created by mass media, and thus they create the base for a community.
The same phenomenon occurs on a national level. News coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon bound Americans in a nationwide grieving process. Coverage of the death of Princess Diana prompted a global dialogue on celebrity coverage. Stories of misdeeds help us figure out what we as a society regards as inexcusable. The news coverage of the impeachment of President Clinton did this. Mass media is essential for the ongoing process of society identifying its values. The importance of mass media in binding people into nationhood is clear in every revolution and coup-d’etat around the world. The leaders try to take over the national media right away as an essential vehicle to unify the population behind their cause and silence the opposition. When the U.S. invaded Baghdad in 2003, a priority was to get the television back on the air.

The trend of conglomeration in media poses a problem for society. Conglomeration affects the diversity of messages offered by the mass media. Conglomerates are trying to buy control or market domination not just in one medium but in all the media. The aim is to control the entire process from an original manuscript or new series to its use in as many forms as possible. A magazine article owned by a company becomes a book owned by the company. The book becomes a television program owned by the company which then becomes a movie owned by the company. It is shown in theaters owned by the company and the movie soundtrack is issued on a record label owned by the company, featuring the vocalist on the cover of one of the company’s magazines (Bagdikian). Understanding this, it is clear that the company will be less than enthusiastic about outside ideas and production that it does not own or control.
One of the negative affects of conglomeration occurs when a parent company looks to its subsidiaries only to enrich conglomerate coffers as quickly as possible and by any means possible, regardless of the quality of products that are produced. Management of diverse conglomerates tends to take an “easy-way-out” approach that deemphasizes content. Many of these conglomerates focus on profits alone. This mind set leads to decline in quality product.

“The Man” forces subsidiaries to cut costs to increase profits, a trend that severely impacts the quality of the media message. Fewer people to do more work is the new formula for business success. At newspapers, a reporter’s story used to pass through several hands- editor, copy editor, headline writer, typesetter, and proofreader. At every stage the story could be improved. In today’s streamlined newsrooms, proof readers have been replaced by spell check software. The jobs of reporter and the typesetter have been consolidated. In many newsrooms, so have the jobs of copy editors and headline writers. This trend in media directly affects people in their everyday life, costing some their jobs.

Mass Medias also create rituals around which people structure their lives. This is one of many ways that the media contribute to social stability. Northwest Airlines pilots flying over the Dakotas in the 1950’s could tell when the late night news was over on WCCO, the powerful Minneapolis radio station. They could see the lights at ranches and towns all across the Dakotas going off as people, having heard the news, went to bed. The 10 o’clock WCCO news has become a ritual (Curran).

These are just a small look at how media influences society. The relationship between the two is parasitic. As long as society has a need for information and entertainment, the media will be there to provide it.

Bibliography/Works Cited