What are we seeking from media, and are we getting what we want? (Baron and Davis 228).
Stepping away from the effects the media has on us, this week focused more on the uses and gratifications approach, which Baron and Davis defined as an “approach to media study focusing on the uses to which people put media and the gratifications they seek from those users” (232). We all “use” the media for different purposes, and I think by now, we all know what medium to turn to to get exactly what we want.
An important aspect of the uses and gratifications model was illustrated by Katz, Blumer, and Gurevitch in “Utilization of Mass Communication by the Individual.” They brought up the point of how “the audience is conceived as active, that is, an important part of mass media use is assumed to be goal directed” (164). All audience members choose what medium to turn to at any given time, and “use” it they way they would like. Personally, if I want to hear about Obama’s latest stimulus plan, I turn to CNN.com. If I want to find out what’s going on locally in Connecticut, I would turn to a local news channel. If I want entertainment, I turn to PerezHilton.com or E News.
On the subject or celebrity gossip and Perez Hilton, why are we so interested in the life of the rich and famous? What are trying to get or accomplish from reading gossip like this? Don’t we all have enough going on in our own lives to actually care about a celebrity weight gain, or new hair cut? This article by Paul Steinberg seems to answer some of those questions, but what do you think?
I thought it was interesting to think about though, when Baron and Davis discussed the problems that can arise from this, and the confusion of media uses and functions that occur. Every media source serves a different purpose for every individual. Our authors state though, that “they might not necessarily be the purposes they serve for the people who consume the media, and these functions can be different from the intended uses of audience members” (235). When I read this, I immediately thought of crime shows, such as Law and Order or CSI. A use or gratification from watching these shows may be to see drama, or see bad guys in action. It’s odd and scary to think about, but I would propose that most people who watch these types of shows a lot, can cover up their own crime scene, or even know how to shoot a gun. These shows inadvertently teach us things like this, even though we are watching them to be entertained. Or, perhaps people are watching crime shows or horror movies to let out their own type of aggression, without actually performing any illegal acts. What do you think of this? Agree/disagree? Is this where uses and gratifications of media gets blurred with media effects?