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As Generations Evolve, so Does Our Media

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Submitted By pe1991
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As Generations Evolve, So Does Our Media In today’s day in age we are constantly flooded with information and news that is being almost shoved at us from all different angles. From radio, newspapers, television, magazines and the Internet we are always engaged in some sort of media. As technology has progressed we have also been able to access news and information anywhere in the world. With our tablets, laptops, and smartphones media is at the tips of our fingers and always available for us, which is much different then how it used to be. From the censorship of the media to the constant use of new media, the differences from the media in America’s history and today’s are vast. Every generation has to adjust to the media type that is current for their time, however with the constant progression of technology we are affected by the content of the media as well and the delivery system. Conferring with someone from an older generation helps fully understand how the media has changed and the different perspectives about it.
My mother, Ellen Ferretti, was born on July 15, 1956 and grew up in Fort Lee, New Jersey, right across river from New York City. Even though she was born in the 50’s she still has a reference of information about the media during her childhood and teen years. Growing up she recalled always having newspapers, magazines, and the radio as a source of media. Her parents read the newspaper as a source of information and current events, locally and nationally, and magazines were mostly used for your own personal interests. Television was becoming more popular and by the 70’s color television was starting to outsell traditional black and white ones. However, my mom recollects that her family would listen to the radio more than they watched television. There was one main radio, which everyone used, that was in the kitchen and the family had a Transistor Radio, which they were able to move around the house or outside. Once my mom and her sister were old enough they were able to have their own Transistor radios and were able to bring them wherever they pleased. My mom explained how it was a big deal for her sister and her to get a Transistor radio, they begged for them for Christmas and their birthdays until they finally got them.
Since the family’s main radio was in the kitchen, which my mom says was the heart of the house; it was everyone’s source of media. My grandmother chose WNEW because she liked the classical music of Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Dean Martin. In addition there was always news and weather news and weather on every hour and half hour. So my mom and her family used the radio for both entertainment and to get information. Regarding television sets, there was only on black and white set in her house. My mom recalls that radio was the more popular form of media over television. Her and her family would listen to the radio more then they would watch their television. In the morning during weekdays everyone was getting ready for school and work, so the radio would be on in the background, rather then the television. On weekends was when my mom and aunt would really watch television. They would watch Leave It To Beaver, Romper Room, Game Shows, and cartoons mostly. Television was a luxury to have and because of how big and bulky the sets were it was only in the living room, not in the kitchen or any bedrooms. Radios were easy to transport and move around the house, especially Transistor Radios. My mom concluded that even though television was popular, the radio was more practical because it was everywhere and more mobile.
When focusing on the radio, between the news programs and entertainment programs, she explained that since she was younger she used it mostly for entertainment programs. During the 60’s when radical music was becoming very popular stations were mostly identified by the DJ that was hosting the show, rather than the name of the station. One of the main shows my mom would listen to was William B. Williams’ show on WNEW. She even remembers her parents mostly listening to music on the radio as well. Every half hour or so there would be a five minute news update about traffic and weather, much like we hear today on the popular music radio stations. My mom recalls that television pretty much took over the “shows” that would be on the radio that had a more specific topic. When thinking back to her preteen and teenager years, my mom mainly listened to WABS, WNEW and WMCA radio stations. WABC and WMCA were AM stations that had the current top twenty hits, which would be equivalent to Z100 or 92.3 NOW in todays time. WNEW was an FM station that was more sophisticated for older rock’n’roll listeners. The AM stations were labeled “Bubble Gum” music, which was a pop genre of music, while FM stations were for the more discerning. Yet, FM radio stations were becoming more popular or perhaps more available at that time. Radio was the easiest way to get constant music and small news updates, my mom felt that it was the most used by her and her family. However, when it came to being informed about the news they looked to a different media form.
When I asked what type of media was the most informative for the best news my mom said that newspapers where the most complete source of local and world news. Even back then they had local, regional, and globally newspapers that you could choose from. The ones my mom and her family read for the local news was Hudson Dispatch and The Bergen Record. For regional newspapers they would read The Star Ledger, the Daily News, and the New York Post. For the global news her family read The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Even though the radio and television allowed the consumer to exert less effort when obtaining information, the newspapers were still the most informative, according to my mom. She believed this was because the radio and television gave concise highlights about what was happening around you, whereas newspapers had much more content, which was much more detailed then. The radio aired the news at least every thirty minutes, so you could get highlights of the news constantly. My mom and her parents would watch the television for the evening news programs, which she said most families did. However, even though television aired the news and it was the newest form of media at the time, it was not as convenient as the radio, newspapers, and magazines were. Thus, the newspapers were the most informative form of media during this time. She also pointed out that besides Time magazine, most magazines were used as an entertainment media that you bought based on your interests. Overall, the best way to gain knowledge of current events and get a detailed description of news going on locally and globally, newspapers were the most informative. However, television was becoming more and more prominent and advancing with technology.
Since my mom always remembers having a television in her house, she knew when growing up that it was a special item to have. The television set that her family and most families had was cumbersome and considered to be a piece of furniture and therefore there was only usually one set per household. Then later down the road my mom’s family acquired a portable set, which was a TV on a wheeled cart. Now, they could watch television in different rooms of the first floor of their home, this advance made my mom believe that they were really living large. Furthermore, when my mom’s family got a color television it was an even bigger deal to her and my aunt. Watching television was also a family event; it was almost like a special time to hang out with the family. Because of there was only set the whole family had to gather around one television to watch a specific program. My mom recalls many Sunday evenings watching 60 Minutes, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Disney Show, and Lassie with her family and enjoying some quality family time. Even though television was advancing and they acquired a color TV, radio still maintained a huge presence in their home. The radio was constantly on in the kitchen and remained a source of music, entertainment, and news. And with its size, portability, and inexpensive price it remained a very popular source of media. Drawing on this advance in technology, it is easy to relate this progress to media shift to the Internet.
When asking my mom about what she thought about the progress of the Internet since she saw it completely unfold I found that she believes it was a positive advancement just like television was back then. She remembered that the radio and television were being broadcasted all day long and you could find out information somewhat quickly. Newspapers, just like today, were published and ran once a day so you had to wait until the next day to learn about something that was happening that day. However, now with the Internet, she explains that we can learn about current events and news even faster than television or radio ever allowed. The media back when my mom was growing up did not allow for immediate responses and coverage of news, they would report it as fast they could, but it was nothing compared to the Internet today.
I found that the difference in the past two major advancements in technology, television and Internet, to be the most interesting comparison of how media can shift our way of life. By asking my mother further questions about the Internet I was able to grasp an older generations perspective on the positives and negatives of the most major technological advance. My mom first explained what she felt were the positives of the Internet. She thought that it allowed people to gain news faster then ever before, and we are able to learn about current events as they are happening. It also gives us a huge opportunity to gain knowledge about almost any topic. The Internet is a virtual library full of information waiting to be found. The last positive thing my mother said was our ability to communicate with people across the world at any time. She found this was so useful when trying to connect with family members that live far away, as well as old friends she has lost contact with over the years. With these positives that have come from the innovation in the Internet there are also negatives that have come to light.
My mom and I discussed what she felt were the downfalls of the Internet we brushed upon many things that she fells some people, such as the younger generations who have grown up with this technology, do not understand. When people are expressing themselves or sharing what they believe is current news or correct information via Facebook or Twitter there is much more biases that are seen. There is no recourse for what people post or Tweet, no one has to confirm a source and state that the information is valid. This leads to misinformation and people start to believe and share false information. My mother used the example of the Sandy Hook Shooting. Families were finding out where their loved ones and children were or what condition they were in from Twitter, Facebook, and even text messages. Even though people want to get the most current news, finding out about something as sensitive as your child’s life from a social media site or text message is not the most appealing or appropriate way to do so. Even though we are getting quick information, the delivery of the information is not always adequate. The Internet has allowed anyone to post or share anything they please and without any repercussions.
I also related this to the recent Boston Marathon bombing, which we discussed in class. The graphic images, horrific statuses, posts and Tweets are vastly different from the censored photographs that used to be shown in the media. Before the Vietnam War, the media portrayed the war without that much horrific footage or images. When the Vietnam War has in its prime television was the most important source of media. People began to see reporting of the war up close. Images are much more emotionally evoking then words and thus the television was able to reveal these photos more frequently and for the first time. Recently, we have seen an immense amount of atrocious images and videos of the victims of the Boston Bombing, which shows how much the media has changed in regards to the censoring of the content.
Another shortcoming my mother and I conferred about was the creation of portable devices such as Smartphones, laptops, and tablets, which has allowed the Internet to be even more accessible then ever before. With these devices we are able to be in constant contact with almost anyone at anytime. This can be good, but this kind of communication cannot replace interpersonal communication just be another addition to it. Getting an older generation’s perspective on this allows me to understand the issue better. We need to realize that this form of communication is impersonal and that there is an object in between the people interacting. Just as well, we cannot become overly consumed in this ability. Being incessantly in contact with other people and the media has created the younger generation to become impatient and almost controlling. With the Internet we are able to know what who is doing what, when, and even where they are. Knowing this much all the time and being constantly connected is unhealthy. People need personal time to themselves and learn how to put down the device and disconnect for a while. I think it is interesting how television was a form of media that brought people together in one room, and now it isolates everyone. Even when we are with people we are always concerned with checking our different forms of media on our devices. We need to not become too consumed in our devices and the media and find a balance.
After interviewing my mother, someone from a generation above me, I have inquired that the media has changed and progressed immensely, from radio, to television, to the Internet. However, with this the downfalls of the current media connection and exposure is changing the way people communicate with one another, while the media content continues to become more and more uncensored. Our younger generation needs to understand the past media in America in order to appreciate the new media and learn how to not abuse it. Being continuously connected to the media and people inhibits our communication and the way we conduct ourselves. Media during my mother’s time was limited and brought people together, unlike what our current media is doing. We are also overexposed with public information about anyone and everything. From news to our friends’ whereabouts, we are bombarded with pleasant and sometimes unpleasant information with the least censorship in history. American media has grown and evolved to further our society, but as our media changes, each generation has to adjust and learn the new media and the issues that come with it.

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