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The American Culture

The American Culture would be markedly different today, had the print media developed differently. The printing of biblical allowed the average citizen to participate in personal religious reading. Meanwhile, they lead to the cultivation of the American mind. Ben Franklin, for instance, published Poor Richard’s Almanac, giving Americans access to poems, literature and useful information. Free libraries also emerged from this development, as did public schooling. The novel also became popular in America, providing information and entertainment to the masses.

People even made fan clubs for their favorite authors – like Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain (Wilson & Wilson, 2001). Print media was also useful for politics. Harriet Beecher Stowe was able to gain sympathy for slaves by writing her anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It sold nearly 1,000 each week. Even Abraham Lincoln responded positively to Stowe’s writing. Meanwhile, Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, to gain sympathy for the plight of the overworked, mistreated American worker.

Wilson and Wilson credit Sinclair with helping gain the support needed to pass new labor laws that improved working conditions for Americans. The print media was also used to gain support against Britain during the revolutionary war period, and to make America’s grievances against its mother country universally known. More recently, the print media has become more specialized. Books and magazines specialize in self-help literature and lifestyle titles. Childcare books, for instance, according to Wilson and Wilson, are now big sellers.

Nonfiction greatly outsells fiction (Wilson & Wilson, 2001). Meanwhile, newspapers and magazines have given the public access to more detail in the news. They have also been advertizing tools. Magazines, for instance, featuring popular singers in certain brands of clothing have generated sales for those brands. Wilson and Wilson give a photograph of formerly popular singer Marky Mark in Calvin Kline Jeans as an example of the type of magazine advertising that sells (Wilson & Wilson, 2001).

The print media has furthered the trend of consumerism greatly. Those who see clothing, beauty products, sports equipment, or vehicles advertised in their favorite medium are often tempted to buy the same products. Radio programs are often run by ad sponsorship, so those who wish to listen to their favorite radio programs are often met by ads telling them to buy goods or even insurance. Another trend in the print media has been sensationalism.

In order to attract readership, newspapers and magazines sometimes resort to exaggeration or embellishment. According to Wilson, one of the most well-known journalists, William Randolph Hearst, did not mind fabricating news stories and often played with his audience’s emotions. More recently, members of the print media have moved toward holding each other up to certain standards. Journalists set up schools of journalism to teach such standards and different groups drew up ethics plans for journalists to follow (Wilson & Wilson, 2001).

Although consumerism is sometimes a disturbing trend, it is understandable that newspapers rely on advertising funds to circulate. It is nice to know that some journalists are willing to work to research stories, rather than simply fabricating the news. It is also nice to know that journalists have a sense of social responsibility and that they can and will self-regulate (Wilson & Wilson, 2001). Ultimately, consumers will be much happier if the news they read is accurate, and advertisers will be happier if they know that the medium they publish in is credible.

Although some of the ads in magazines, like cigarette ads, encourage the use of items that will hurt the human body, those ads are what keep the print media printing. This is important, because the print media is responsible for reporting the news fairly, justly, and in an orderly fashion. Without the media, Americans would, perhaps, have a hard time knowing when politicians were corrupt, or when the economy was booming. Works Cited (2001). Print Media: Books, Newspapers, and Magazines. In J. R. Wilson, & S. R. Wilson, Mass Media Mass Culture: An Introduction, Fifth Edition. The McGraw-Hill Company.

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