Center on Media and Society
The Role of Media in Society
Sociologist Todd Gitlin observes that “spending time with communications machinery is the main use to which we have put our freedom.”
- American adults spend about half of their leisure time watching television, according to a 2013 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- According to a 2012 Neilson survey, the average American household watches live television more than 34 hours per week, not including another 3-6 hours watching taped programs.
- Today, more than 36 million of us are watching video on smartphones.
- The world’s Internet usage population has climbed from 1.4 billion in 2008 to 2.4 billion in 2012.
- Radio is identified by the World Bank as a critical asset to economic and political development in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere.
- Film, television, music, radio, advertising, print publishing, and computer software continue to be among America’s leading exports.
- A June 2013 study shows that more than half of the world’s adults read a daily newspaper, with 2.5 billion doing so in print and 600 million in digital format. This same report from Marketing Charts notes that while circulation has declined in the North American, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, it has increased in Asia and Latin America.
- Up 4% from 2012, 56% of Americans over the age of 12 now have a profile on a social networking site and 22% of us use social media several times are day.
Questions for Scholars and Students
- What difference is this making?
- How should consumers and content creators understand the role of media content and availability in politics, economics, and social cultures?
- How does our brain process information differently when we are reading a newspaper, listening to radio, surfing the Net, or watching TV?
- What is journalism exactly, and under what circumstances does it matter to public policymaking?
- How should we determine the trustworthiness and value of media content?
- What is the role of the Internet in international democracy movements?
- What are the most effective and/or ethical communications techniques for advocacy, negotiation, or persuasion?
- How does it matter if information is portrayed through different journalism and advocacy frameworks on television?