81°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Easy Learning

There is a wealth of information being disseminated in print, over the airwaves and on the internet. Unfortunately, it is being overlooked by a large number of people. The popular media while disseminating information and news generally does so in a way that is both superficial and often biased. Publicly supporting media and news are, to a far lesser degree, subject to those pressures. Newspapers also enjoy the option of devoting more space to in depth and special interest stories that better inform their readers.

In investigating two public radio stations in Boston, it is immediately obvious that more time is spent in reporting the news than on the average commercial station. Instead of five minutes of news on the hour, literally hours of the day are slotted for news, weather, commentary and analysis of the news.

WBUR is a non-commercial, educational FM station licensed to Boston University. Morning programming includes, “The Morning Edition”, which is mostly a combination of NPR’s morning news program and WBUR’s own local coverage, commentary and reviews, the former on an international and national scale, the latter more focused on the local level. It is followed at 9 by the BBC News Hour ? news, commentary, and analysis from the world’s largest news organization.

A similar but slightly different morning show is provided by WGBH. According to their website, “WGBH is public service media for New England on TV, radio, the web, and out in the community. (They’re) the single largest producer of PBS prime-time and online programming, and a major source of programs heard on public radio from coast to coast.” There are a few different features not found on WBUR, one of which, “The Writer’s Almanac” with Garrison Keillor, is an interesting, eclectic selection of readings of authors of varying styles and genres.

The news on both of these stations is reported in much greater depth, reflecting an emphasis on the true impact of the subjects reported rater than on mass appeal. An interview with Representative Stephen Lynch on why he rejected the bailout is an example of news we should know so that we can vote intelligently that is often neglected by the other news sources. Human interests are not ignored, but they tend to be reserved for people who have had some significant import on society rather than the pop celebrity of the day. A recent example was the death of Paul Newman and focus placed to his philanthropic work, being greater than his acting career while in the popular media it was the reverse.

WGBH as mentioned also produces and broadcasts for television. Some of its productions are quality educational programs such as Frontline, Nova, and Scientific American Frontiers. Often subjects related to psychology are explored on these programs. Nova recently examined the increase in the number of children being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and the frequency with which medications are being prescribed. A key concern is the amount of testing that has been done on the long-term effects.

Overall the sources listed provided more valuable news than those that are more popular. They provide information that is culturally significant as well as scientifically important. They enable people to be better informed and to make better decisions affecting them and others. Awareness of these sources and their benefits provide the opportunity to make better choices in learning about the world around us.