Synopses & Reviews
Taking Sides Takes on a Wide Range of Issues
The 2006 Taking Sides Student Collection brings together the arguments of leading social and behavioral scientists, educators, and contemporary commentators, forming 18 to 20 debates, or issues, that present the pros and cons of current controversies in an area of study. The ideal collection for libraries serving undergraduate college students, this set features the following titles:
Taking Sides: African Issues, 2/E
Taking Sides: Abnormal Psychology, 4/E
Taking Sides: Crime and Criminology, 7/E
Taking Sides: Environmental Issues, 12/E
Taking Sides: Social Issues, 14/E
Taking Sides: Educational Psychology, 4/E
Taking Sides: Gender
Taking Sides: Latin American Issues
Taking Sides: Lifespan Development
Taking Sides: Mass Media and Society, 9/E
Taking Sides: Educational Issues
Taking Sides: World Politics, 12/E
Taking Sides: Social Psychology, 2/E
Taking Sides: World History VI, 3/E
Taking Sides: World History V2, 2/E
Index on CD-ROM
TAKING SIDES: CLASHING VIEWS IN MASS MEDIA presents current controversial issues in a debate-style format designed to stimulate student interest and develop critical thinking skills. Each issue is thoughtfully framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript. An instructor's manual with testing material is available for each volume. USING TAKING SIDES IN THE CLASSROOM is also an excellent instructor resource with practical suggestions on incorporating this effective approach in the classroom. Each TAKING SIDES reader features an annotated listing of selected World Wide Web sites and is supported by our student website, www.dushkin.com/online.
Table of Contents
PART 1. MEDIA AND SOCIAL ISSUES
ISSUE 1. Are American Values Shaped by the Mass Media?
YES: Herbert I. Schiller, from “The Mind Managers” (Beacon Press, 1973)
NO: Horace Newcomb and Paul M. Hirsch, from “Television as a Cultural Forum: Implications for Research,” Quarterly Review of Film Studies (Summer 1983)
Critical scholar of modern mass media Professor Schiller argues that mass media institutions are key elements of the modern capitalistic world order. Media, he argues, produce economic profits and the ideology necessary to sustain a world system of exploitative divisions of social and financial resources. It is the job of the citizenry to understand the myths that act to sustain this existing state of power relationships. Professors of communication Horace Newcomb and Paul M. Hirsch in their classic article counter that television serves as a site of negotiation for cultural issues,images, and ideas. Viewer selections from among institutional choices is a negotiation process as viewers select from a wide set of approaches toissues and ideas.
ISSUE 2. Is Television Harmful for Children?
YES: W. James Potter, from On Media Violence (Sage Publications, 1999)
NO: Jib Fowles, from The Case for Television Violence (Sage Publications, 1999)
W. James Potter, a professor of communication, examines existing research in the area of children and television violence. Such research isextensive and covers a variety of theoretical and methodological areas. He examines the nature of the impact of television on children and concludesthat strong evidence exists for harmful effects. Jib Fowles, a professor of communication, finds the research on children and television violence less convincing. Despite the number ofstudies, he believes that the overall conclusions are unwarranted. Fowles finds that the influence is small, lab results are artificial, and fieldworkis inconclusive. In short, he finds television violence research flawed and unable to prove a linkage between violent images and harm tochildren.
ISSUE 3. Do African American Stereotypes Still Dominate Entertainment Television?
YES: Donald Bogle, from Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001)
NO: John McWhorter, from “Gimme a Break!” The New Republic (March 5, 2001)
Professor and author Donald Bogle offers a comprehensive analysis of African Americans on network series. He traces their role on prime timefrom the negative stereotypes of the 1950s to the current more subtle stereotypes of the 1990s. Bogle tackles the shows of the 1990s, particularly thepopular and controversial Martin. Professor and author John McWhorter counters that stereotypes are diminishing in America. In his review of Bogles book, McWhorter assertsthat Bogle has donned an ideological straitjacket, which blinds him to the strides that African Americans have made in prime time. He concludes thatthe continued search for stereotypes prevents us from seeing the very real changes that have taken place in the media.
PART 2. A QUESTION OF CONTENT
ISSUE 4. Do Video Games Encourage Violent Behavior?
YES: Dr. Craig A. Anderson, from Prepared Statement to the Hearing Before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the United States Senate (March 21, 2000)
NO: The Economist Staff Writer, from “Chasing the Dream,” The Economist (August 6, 2005)
While the two selections in this issue both agree that as yet, there is little long-term evidence to conclusively prove that video games either do or do not encourage violent behavior, each cites different literature to make their claims about the short-term impact of violent video games. Professor Anderson, an expert in child behavior, addresses the literature that does indicate that any violent images in media can indeed have long-term effects; while the Special Report in The Economist focuses on literature that the differential age groups who play video games get different gratification from them. This, of course, assumes that games are age-appropriate, but also points out that video games are increasingly becoming a staple in American entertainment.
ISSUE 5. Does Alcohol Advertising Target Young People?
YES: Nina Riccio, from “How Alcohol Ads Target Teens,” Current Health (September 2002)
NO: Joseph C. Fisher, from “Media Influence,” in Robert T. Ammerman, Peggy J. Ott, and Ralph E. Tarter, eds., Prevention and Societal Impact of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999)
Nina Riccio is a nutritionist and health care counselor who works with young people. In this selection she examines the impact of alcohol advertising that is geared toward younger audiences. She doesnt focus on the issue of alcoholism, as many researchers do, but she cites the problems with an advertising industry that obfuscates important information and tells only partial truths to a consumer public, and cites persuasive evidence that underage drinking can result in several harmful, or even deadly behaviors. Joseph C. Fisher examines the research that has been conducted on the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco advertising, and concludes that the type of content analyses that are usually conducted to examine the frequency of ads in the media cannot be used to explain causality and alcohol abuse. In particular, his focus on teens and young adults shows that while there may be a predilection of those who recall ads to intend to become drinkers in the future, the efficacy of advertising is unproven. He also examines the effect of counteradvertising.
ISSUE 6. Is Advertising Ethical?
YES: John E. Calfee, from “How Advertising Informs to Our Benefit,” Consumers Research (April 1998)
NO: Russ Baker, from “The Squeeze,” Columbia Journalism Review (September/October 1997)
John E. Calfee, a former U.S. Trade Commission economist, takes the position that advertising is very useful to people and that theinformation that advertising imparts helps consumers make better decisions. He maintains that the benefits of advertising far outweigh the negativecriticisms. Author Russ Baker focuses on the way in which advertisers seek to control magazine content and, thus, go beyond persuasion and informationinto the realm of influencing the content of other media.
PART 3. NEWS AND POLITICS
ISSUE 7. Should the White House Control the Press?
YES: Ken Auletta, from “Fortress Bush,” New Yorker (January 19, 2004)
NO: Lori Robertson, from “In Control,” American Journalism Review (February/March 2005)
Ken Auletta shadowed the White House Press Secretary and other senior staff to examine White House press relations. He examines factors that shape Bushs opinion of the press, the attitude of senior staff, and the efforts of the White House to control the news agenda, which the White House is seen to accomplish with great skill and discipline. Lori Robertson discusses the tight control of information by the White House from the perspective of veteran reporters and editors. Recent administrations have become more adept at tight news management with no leaks, no dissent, and "on-message" stories. Such a tight clamp down on access seems to have no downside for the White House, but the media are concerned that keeping the public informed is suffering.
ISSUE 8. Is Negative Campaigning Bad for the American Political Process?
YES: Bruce E. Pinkleton, Nam-Hyun Um, and Erica Weintraub Austin, from “An Exploration of the Effects of Negative Political Advertising on Political Decision Making,” Journal of Advertising (Spring 2002)
NO: Ruth Ann Weaver Lariscy and Spencer F. Tinkham, from “Accentuating the Negative,” USA Today Magazine (May 2004)
Mass communication scholars examine the truth behind the assumption that negative campaigning has a negative impact on voters. Their experimental research study found that participants deemed negative ads fairly worthless and that such ads increased negativity about campaigns. Other potential consequences such as cynicism, efficacy, and apathy were not found. Political advertising scholars report on the lessons of their studies of negative campaign advertising. Negative ads, they argue, are more memorable. They help voters make distinctions between candidates; they influence voters. But not all negative ads are useful, and the authors help us make the distinction. Despite the revulsion that pervades public opinion toward negative ads, these authors argue that they are helpful to voters.
ISSUE 9. Should Images of War Be Censored?
YES: David D. Perlmutter and Lesa Hatley Major, from “Images of Horror From Fallujah,” Nieman Reports (Summer 2004)
NO: Robert Jensen, from “The Militarys Media,” The Progressive (May 2003)
One of the most controversial topics in journalism is whether pictures really do "speak louder than words." When pictures convey images that are extremely difficult to see because they reflect death, destruction, mutilation, or pain, the power of the message sometimes becomes overwhelming. Perlmutter and Major discuss the power of the imageparticularly with regard to atrocities in Fallujah, and decisions made by editors and the responses of audiences who felt the pictures were too extreme. Jensen, an antiwar activist and journalism professor, discusses the difficulty of covering the Iraq war when the military has controlled the availability of images and has controlled access to information through embedded journalists. This type of information control, as well as the accompanying images, results in the public receiving a skewed idea of what is really happening in the war.
ISSUE 10. Is Blogging Journalism?
YES: Matt Welch, from “Blogworld and Its Gravity,” Columbia Journalism Review (September/October 2003)
NO: James Wolcott, from “The Laptop Brigade,” Vanity Fair (March 2004)
In "Blogworld and Its Gravity," Matt Welch, blogger and journalist, argues that the amateur journalists of the blogsworld bring eyewitness accounts, personality, editorial filtering, and uncounted gigabytes of new knowledge to journalism. These bloggers are the true inheritors of the alternative press, and represent the corrective voice of conversation to the authoritarian message of the mainstream press. In "The Laptop Brigade," James Wolcott compares blogs to the rise of the political pamphlet. Comparing these to 18th-century papers like The Tatler and The Spectator and pamphlets such as Paines Common Sense, Wolcott sees blogs as a breakthrough in popular conversation, encouraging debate about the important issues of our time, and breaking through the distance many feel from traditional journalism.
PART 4. REGULATION
ISSUE 11. Should We Still Believe in the First Amendment?
YES: Bill Moyers, from “Keynote Address,” National Conference on Media Reform (November 8, 2003)
NO: First Amendment Center, from State of the First Amendment: 2004 (Freedom Forum, 2004)
In an address to the National Conference on Media Reform, Bill Moyerssupports the need for media reform, and couches his analysis in the need to protect the First Amendment right of freedom of the press. He offers a passionate history of the courage of the press, particularly when he notes, "government is tempted to hit the bottle of censorship again during national emergencies." In contrast, the State of the First Amendment: 2004 report reveals lackluster support for the First Amendment in general and its application to controversial cases in particular. Few know the freedoms guaranteed or care passionately about themalmost one-third feel the freedom granted under the First Amendment "goes too far." Moreover, Americans seem less supportive of freedom of the press than of any other freedoms guaranteed in our Bill of Rights.
ISSUE 12. Should Freedom of Speech Ever Be Restricted?
YES: Eugene Volokh, from “Freedom of Speech, Cyberspace, Harassment Law, and the Clinton Administration,” (2000)
NO: Edison and Jacobs Media Research, from “Indecency Survey,” (March 2004)
Law Professor Eugene Volokh examines several situations in which absolute freedom of speech would very likely conflict with the precedents that have been set in the realm of creating "hostile environment law." For example, if any offensive speech or images were transmitted in a public arena, the law would side with the more conservative approach toward restricting speech or images that would offend certain people, or that would create an uncomfortable atmosphere. Two media consulting firms collaborated on a survey of rock radio listeners to discover what might be offensive to them. The results, taken from the perspective of the audience who listens to rock, create an argument for restricting government involvement in censoring content, and a clear preference for allowing individuals to choose what they hear, or requiring parental involvement in the cases of radio content and audiences of children.
ISSUE 13. Has Industry Regulation Controlled Indecent Media Content?
YES: Rhoda Rabkin, from “Children, Entertainment, and Marketing,” Consumers Research (June 2002)
NO: James Poniewozik, from “The Decency Police,” Time (March 28, 2005)
Author Rhoda Rabkin strongly defends the industry system of self-censorship, and feels that any government intervention toward monitoring media content is doomed to failure. She examines a number of media forms and claims that any time there has been a question about content, the industry generally re-packages the products for different audiences and age groups. She advocates for voluntary codes of conduct over federal censorship of entertainment. James Poniewozik profiles the Parents Television Councils Entertainment Tracking System and discusses parents complaints about contemporary television content. He discusses the FCCs present position, and some of the steps the television industry has taken to encourage parents to exercise more control over what their children watch (like the V-chip), but finds that the issues of morality and indecency have been addressed inconsistently, resulting in a wider array of viewpoints concerning indecent material.
PART 5. MEDIA BUSINESS
ISSUE 14. Are Legacy Media Systems Becoming Obsolete?
YES: Betsy Streisand and Richard J. Newman, from “The New Media Elites,” U.S. News and World Report (November 14, 2005)
NO: Marc Fisher, from “Essential Again,” American Journalism Review (October/November 2005)
In this selection, Streisand and Newman look at how traditional media systems have diversified to distribute content to an increasingly fragmented audience. While they think that eventually, all of the new services and content that are distributed worldwide may come to resemble legacy systems, the immediate situation is one of a rapidly shifting landscape. For now though, the legacy media are losing their audiences and having to find new ways of capturing advertising dollars. Fisher focuses specifically on Hurricane Katrina and the way the traditional press, including print and radio journalists, used their skills to mobilize as information sources for the victims of the hurricane. Citing the departure of the "big three" anchors of network news, and the rise of Internet journalism, Fisher discusses the range of responses during a crisis, and argues that the news produced during and after the hurricane proved that traditional journalists knew what they were doing when the situation became untenable.
ISSUE 15. Will the Rise of Christian Media Significantly Change Media Content?
YES: Mariah Blake, from “Stations of the Cross,” Columbia Journalism Review (May/June 2005)
NO: Hanna Rosin, from “Can Jesus Save Hollywood?” The Atlantic Monthly (December 2005)
Though the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) group was formed in 1944, its membership has grown dramatically in recent years. Mariah Blake chronicles the growth of Christian television and radio, and discusses how religion has become entwined with politics, entertainment, and social values through the rise of Christian broadcasting. She cites broadcasters who feel that their viewers need a "family-friendly" alternative to regular news. Hanna Rosin describes the motivation behind the individuals of Act One, a Hollywood organization that cultivates Christian film and television writers to develop media content specifically for the Christian audience. She claims that even though many of these professionals have developed products with Christian themes, most of them also write for on-going programs and films that are currently on-air or in the marketplace.
ISSUE 16. Is Big Media Business Bad for Business?
YES: Ted Turner, from “My Beef with Big Media: How Government Protects Big Mediaand Shuts Out Upstarts Like Me,” Washington Monthly (July/August 2004)
NO: Michael K. Powell, from “Yes, The FCC Should Relax Its Ownership Rules,” Congressional Digest (October 2003)
Ted Turner, founder of CNN, argues that government protects big media, and shuts out upstarts like him. Throughout his career he has seen regulations emerge that transfer power to larger corporations, making it impossible to survive as an independent. Important people, ideas, and innovations are lost with this model. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ex-Chairman Michael Powell, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Commercial, Science and Transportation, outlined the FCC proposal to relax ownership rules. He cites changes in the marketplace and argues that these changes will benefit the public interest through protecting viewpoint diversity, enhancing competition, and fostering localism.
PART 6. LIFE IN THE DIGITAL AGE
ISSUE 17. Can Privacy Be Protected in the Information Age?
YES: Simson Garfinkel, from “Privacy and the New Technology,” The Nation (February 28, 2000)
NO: Adam L. Penenberg, from “The End of Privacy,” Forbes (November 29, 1999)
Journalist Simson Garfinkel discusses how todays technology has the potential to destroy our privacy. He makes the case that the governmentand individuals could take steps to protect themselves against privacy abuse, particularly by returning to the groundwork set by the government in the1970s and by educating people on how to avoid privacy traps. Forbes reporter Adam L. Penenberg discusses his own experiences with an Internet detective agency, and he explains how easy it isfor companies to get unauthorized access to personal information. He specifically describes how much, and where, personal information is kept and thelack of safeguards in our current system.
ISSUE 18. Are People Better Informed in the Information Society?
YES: Wade Roush, from “The Internet Reborn,” Technology Review (October 2003)
NO: Matthew Robinson, from “Party On, Dudes!” The American Spectator (March/April 2002)
Technology Review senior editor Wade Roush reflects on the way we currently use the architecture of the web. She outlines the likely scenario for the future of the Internet, with global networks connected to "smart nodes" that will be able to store all of our files, and allow us to access them from remote sites with only small, handheld devices. The improvements in technology will then lead to a more dynamic use of the web, and will make the Internet more user-friendly, as well as more secure. Author Matthew Robinson warns that no matter what technologies we have available, human beings seem interested in fewer subjects and know even less about politics and current events. He warns that even though we may call it an "information" society, there is evidence to suggest that we actually know less than in earlier years. His examples are humorous as well as sobering.