Viewer Discretion Advised: Taking Control of Mass Media Influences

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Rowman & Littlefield, 2007 - Family & Relationships - 161 pages
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Viewer Discretion Advised shows where our media has gone wrong and what we can do about it. Established media critic Jeffrey McCall illustrates the problems with much of contemporary media content, why it is this way, and how consumers can actively shape the media. He sets out to increase our understanding of how different media work and how media content affects us daily, addressing a number of key media issues. McCall explains how the news agenda is shaped and why it fails to effectively inform the citizenry; how the First Amendment does and doesn't work; and how to manage children's media use. He further highlights the overwhelming influence of big media corporations in dictating cultural standards and the government's role in regulating the media. The final chapter is a helpful guide on how readers can actively challenge media companies. Stop complaining about media content change it!"

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Jeffrey McCall writes Viewer Discretion Advised- Taking Control of the Mass Media Influences just as it is stated in the title. The entire book focuses on the negative mass media influences on society. McCall is clearly concerned about Americans ways is in today and finds it very important that society starts to become more pro-active.
There are nine chapters in this book that supports McCall’s premise—which is that the mass Medias influences have negative impacts on our society and society needs to start taking control. McCall starts the book off by stating, “Americans are deluged with mediated messages in every waking moment” (pg1). Using this tone at the very beginning of the book one cam assume what the rest of the book leads into. McCall covers all the aspects of the negative media influence in the following categories: media awareness, the first amendment, this is not news, packaged politics, media saturated kids, big media little responsibility, and how to fight back.
McCall attempts to get the reader interested by bringing up key facts about the media today. He talks about America having the right to expect high performances from their media as they do with everything else such as food suppliers and other service providers. However, the media consumers do not take enough action when dealing with media outlets. McCall then leads into the facts of the First Amendment. Consumers of the media need to get to know the First Amendment inside and out so that they are not taken advantage of. McCall feels that the First Amendment is the most misunderstood amendment.
McCall supports the idea that the media discusses topics that should not be considered news. There are statistics presented to help in prove his point but he refuses to look at the fact that, on some level, Americans must like the topics in the news because nobody has had strong enough feelings against it to make a change.
The first positive statement I read in this book came up in the chapter about politics in the media. McCall stated that political commercials are a good way for candidates to reach a public they might not have and give true facts about themselves. An interesting aspect brought up was the impact web bloggers have on politics. Bloggers watch the mainstream media like a hawk and hold mainstreamers accountable for their mistakes. This section of the book goes into what the effects of bloggers can do to politics positively and negatively.
McCall also covers the issue that parents and teachers need to be aware of the current state in America. Children in today’s society are totally immersed in media and do not even realize it. It is sad how many parents us media outlets such as television or video games to keep their kids occupied. Parents and teachers need to begin to care and understand all health issues that are linked between the media and children. If we do not, everyone will suffer.
In the end of the book McCall repeatedly tells the reader to take action. McCall gives advice on where to go when a media consumer has a problem with the media and what to say. However, the whole time he is giving advice he never once tells the reader to give them constructive criticism. But who would expect that from a book that has such a negative outlook on the media?
Overall, McCall wants to censor television and anything in the media. McCall brings up many valid points but do not expect an argument that is balanced. McCall is exceptionally biased in that he does not provide research or facts on both sides of the issues. Even his research comes from biased organizations. The entire book rants on the negative aspects of the media. There should have been some more positive aspects intertwined into the book to make it more effective. If the book was more positive and talked about both sides of the issue it could have reached a broader audience.


Media Awareness for All
Getting to Know the First Amendment
Sex Skin and Swearing
This Is Not News
Television News or MTV?
Packaged Politics
MediaSaturated Kids
Big Media Little Responsibility
How You Can Fight BackToday
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About the author (2007)

Jeffrey McCall is a media studies professor at DePauw University. He is also a contributing op-ed columnist on contemporary media issues. His columns have been published in a number of newspapers. He is a widely quoted media observer and critic, having been interviewed and quoted by over 75 newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Christian Science Monitor, and others. He has also made a number of appearances on radio and television shows.

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