Blog 3: Media Literacy

| No Comments

I recently finished reading a book by Neil Postman called, Amusing Ourselves to Death, which unveils some of the basic lessons of media literacy that we have been talking about in class. Postman argues that "definitions of truth are derived, in part, from the character of the media of communication, through which information is conveyed." He summarizes this point by titling chapter two as, "Media as Epistemology." Postman, founder of NYU's Media Ecology program, claimed that our culture's idea of truth had transgressed as we have moved away from the print-oriented eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and into the new, media-driven, twentieth century. Epistemology is important to rhetoric because rhetoric involves communication; therefore, the exchange of knowledge. Amusing Ourselves to Death is of fascinating interest to anyone who studies how media affects our public discourse. According to Postman, television is transforming our culture into one vast arena for show business. In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman demonstrates that television's way of knowing is unwaveringly, and unreceptive to typography's way of knowing. He goes on to try and prove that television's conversations promote incoherence and triviality. In other words, Postman is saying "serious television" is a contradiction in terms. He states that the problem with television is not that it presents us with entertaining subject matter, but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining. He presents a critical point when he says "Television is our culture's principal mode of knowing about itself. Therefore how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly to be staged". Using examples of news, religion, education, and political TV shows, Postman tries to reveal that television only speaks in one persistent voice, the voice of entertainment. Amusing Ourselves to Death is an important book to anyone seeking to understand the ways in which the media shape our lives. I am left to wonder, as television for our current generation is becoming outdated, and we begin to rely on newer technologies to provide us with public discourse, how will this, new medium affect our culture's idea of truth?

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by reich190 published on October 1, 2012 12:34 AM.

blog was the previous entry in this blog.

Mitchell-"Seeing Do the Right Thing" is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.