Why study media?

The following is an example post for students of my introductory media theory courses:

image via Shutterstock


A few years ago, while speaking to other students at a graduation, I jokingly remarked that due to my programme of choice, every movie I watched, every video game I played, and even every podcast I listened to could be considered research. I was only half joking, though. I had, after all, been studying mass communication.Time and time during my studies, I was able to illustrate concepts and deepen my discussion of theory by using examples of everyday media. I explained convergence and consolidation using Sony’s virtual monopoly of Spider-Man-related electronic media in the early 2000s. A page of Vladimir Putin memes sparked a discussion that I later referenced in an essay on public relations. Critical observation of media has always reaped rewards for me professionally, whether as a teacher, a former reporter, or a freelance writer. And media studies has remained a fresh and exciting field to me because it’s based on an ever-developing, ever-changing media landscape.

Few forces teach us about life and the world around us more than mass media. In that regard alone, they deserve to questioned and examined. If you intend to create media as  career, though, it’s even more crucial that you understand what makes media effective, and how different aspects of the industry work with (and against) each other.

This is how I want all of you to approach media studies. We spoke today about my old


image via Southern High School.


classmate Gilbert and the opportunity he missed to design something a simple, effective, and perfectly appropriate logo. That happened because he was unaware of basic elements of the subject matter he was designing for. We spoke about me as a fledgling reporter, performing less than admirably because I’d never been taught the big picture behind my job. As future graphic designers, filmmakers, journalists, advertisers, performers and researchers, I want you all to deepen your knowledge of the wider industry you’re hoping to become part of.

To paraphrase The Wire, one of those TV shows that broadened my understanding of the world around me, you’re building something here, something important, and all the pieces matter.


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