The Long And Tall Tales Of Television Today
It’s such a controversial topic today, in order to get my own conclusion, I will exam the arguments and studies of two papers: one is “The Function of Television: Life Without the Big Box” by Charles Winick who supports the functions of television; the other is “Some Hazards of Growing Up in a Television Environment” by Jerome L. Singer and Dorothy G. Singer who does not agree that TV should be viewed as much as today and it has already became a society problem. I agree with the view of Singers, in addition, I think this is the problem that should be solved urgently. Charles Winick considers that most important for children is that they can learn from TV. “The children of today do not need to learn to read as early or to develop an imagination.
All their fairy tales, bedtime stories and cartoons are shown in living color on TV”. He shows a great children program “Sesame Street” as an example. “ It has led to the production of a television program in which the contents are closely based upon knowledge of what young children need to know and about their manner of learning…it’s a highly effective educational program which has successfully taught basic skills to children from a range of very different home backgrounds.” In Singers’ paper, they argue that although the average child spends a great deal of time watching television, they learn very little from the medium. A common model is the ‘hyperdermic syringe model’.
According to this model, the media had the power to change attitudes and behaviour for the ‘pro-social’ as well as the ‘anti-social’ influence. Empirical research has soon revealed the shortcomings of the hyperdermic syringe model and it was recognized that the effectiveness of the media in getting its message across depended on the personal influence affecting the perceptions of audience members. An alternative of this was the development of the ‘two-step flow’ which was produced by Katz and Lazarfelo. They believe the way the media is interpreted by audiences is usually involved by a process of negotiation with other members of the audience. They believed instead of passively absorbing media output, a discussion is held between family members, friends and even strangers about the programmes seen on T. In this model, opinion leaders emerge to help interpret the message we are being sent. They believed the stimulus relationship between media and audiences was replaced by the complexity of human meaning and personal relationships. Finally the third alternative model, which rejected both the hyperdermic syringe model and the two-step, flow model, was the ‘long-term’ effect model. This model suggests that media may influence us in many ways that are hard to measure and have long term effects on our attitudes, creating new ideas or reinforcing our original ones rather than changing opinions we already have.
Cumberbatch carried out a study where he analysed all programmes broadcasted on all four channels, in four separate weeks between May and September 1986. The primary unit for counting was the violent act; he quoted “a coherent uninterrupted sequence of actions involving the same agents in the same role”. Cumberbatch found that 30% of programmes contained some violence. The overall frequency was 1.14 violent acts per programme, 1.68 acts per hour, where each act lasted approximately 25 seconds and so therefore occupying just over 1% of T.V time. However he claimed that if boxing and wrestling were excluded, the average duration would be 13 seconds and if verbal threats were to be included than the average frequency would rise to 1.96 acts per hour. He found that most violence was shown in spy, fantasy, war detective, crime and thriller programmes, and less violence on quiz shows and chat shows plus non-contact sports.
However he claimed that injuries from violent acts were rare. 26% of occasions, violence resulted in death but 61% no injuries were shown as the victims simply showed pain or were shocked.
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