Sunday, September 23, 2012

Biting the Bullet and Redefining Media Events

What is a "media event?" At a most basic level, Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz defined media events as "an event or activity that exists for the sole purpose of media publicity. It may also include any event that is covered in the mass media or was hosted largely with the media in mind (Wikipedia)."

Dayan and Katz's book was published in 1992. It would be an understatement to say things have changed in the past 20 years in terms of media and how we use it.

Perhaps you are wondering why I am giving you a lecture on media. Here's why:
  1. I'm a Digital Arts, Journalism, and Media Studies major. This is what we learn about.
  2. It inspired my senior seminar topic!
The second fact ranks number one in importance and relevance. The fact that Liz and I have decided on a topic for our book is exhilarating, terrifying, and a relief. 

For those of you who don't know, most college students have a semester-long senior capstone class with a 30-page thesis at the end. The MJD department takes a different approach with year-long project, allowing students to develop original research and write a book, build a multi-media website, or produce a documentary. Liz and I have opted for a book as our primary medium. We are also discussing accompanying videos, website, and other fun marketing tools. (You all know how much I love social media.)

Perhaps more importantly than picking the medium, Liz and I picked a topic. We have spent the past 3 weeks brainstorming topics. We have tried to meet twice a week to review our list, add to the list, and develop our favorite ideas. For our meetings with Hyde and Sultze, we picked our top 3 ideas to run by them. We also threw out other ideas from our list that weren't as developed as the ones we were pitching.

Our favorite topics were:
  1. Social Media and Political Leanings - Is the "invisible wall" between social media users and their audience making them more extreme in their political views?
  2. The Harry Potter franchise and its effects on 18-24 year old culture - How has the HP franchise changed our generation? What makes a book-film franchise so successful? What are the psychological effects of our demographics obsession with the wizarding world?
  3. The third topic was inspired by my water bottle
    which I bought at Rite-Aid last year.
  4. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to tweet about it, did it really happen? -  In 2012, can media events still be defined on the terms of 1992? How has the definition changed? How are media events the same as 1992? Do events have any real significance if they aren't trending topics on Twitter?
Following my hour and a half meeting with Professor Hyde yesterday, I met up with Lizzie to go over his thoughts on our topics. #2 and #3 were the favorites. (They were for us, too. Thank goodness!) The real debate came when we discussed depth vs. breadth. Did we want to dive into one specific top (HP) and completely dissect it OR take a step back and look at the bigger picture of media in the 21st century? 

We ultimately decided on breadth, so that we could address all our favorite topics from politics to Harry Potter. Why get tied down when the world is so large?

As I type this, the reality that the hard work lies ahead is settling in. I can't dwell too long though. There are Defender pitches and stories to write, lines to memorize for acting, and parts to learn for Acabellas! I like to keep busy. :)

Have a great week! 

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