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Abandoned in the Wasteland: Children, Television, & the First Amendment

Abandoned in the Wasteland: Children, Television, & the First Amendment


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Winner of the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association Two well-known experts-Newton N. Minow is a former chairperson of the FCC-suggest bold new ways to think about television and its influence on American life and, most urgently, on American children. The authors argue that to defend an unrestricted freedom to broadcast by invoking the First Ammendent is an improper use of constitutional principle. They remind us that broadcasters are required by law to serve the public interest, and that the Supreme Court and Congress have affirmed that service to children is a broadcaster's legal obligation.

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Book illuminates the power of the media to affect society

In the 1960's, one of the things requested by the leaders of the Black Movement was the more frequent appearance on television of Black performers. Specifically, these performers were to be in programs where they portrayed competent, contributing people. Such programs as Amos n' Andy, under pressure from Black leaders and Civil Rights advocates, were removed from television. Their demands were guided by the belief that the way in which Black people were portrayed on television would have a marked effect upon society's evaluation of the Black race.In the Sep 2003 U.S. News and World Report magazine article regarding the 100 documents which affected our country's history, it is stated that the words we use to communicate our ideas to one another have the power to provoke images and emotions which can revolutionize our society.The ability of literature, whether written or performed, to transform people's values and thus society is not a radical or new notion. It is the principle upon which our American education system is based. We do not believe that human beings are locked into a set of values which they either inherited or which were formed strictly from association with close relatives. We believe that education and environment can alter our principles. I agree with all the previously stated ideas, so it always amazes me how so many of the people who are proponents of the power of education, proponents of the power of literature to shape our values, are often the most vehement in denying that television, music and movies have had a profound effect upon our society's values. The only way that I can reconcile these blatantly contradictory notions is that perhaps what these people are meaning to say is that, books, television, movies, and music do have the power to modify our ethics, to modify our stereotypical perceptions of a race or a gender, and do have the power to affect our notions of equity, but with regards to the sex and violence that saturate these mediums, these are just things that temporarily excite us and have little affect upon our values. This belief is not supported by either logic or experience. The reason that our entertainment is saturated with sex and violence is because there are few things which have a greater capacity to affect us, to arouse us, to absorb our attention. For better, for worse we are chained to one another for our most intense emotions. The egocentric sweetness of self-fulfillment pales in comparison to the emotions generated by the adulation or domination of our fellow human being. Logically, you do not repeatedly arouse human beings' most intense emotions without creating an even greater appetite for more stimulation. However, although we might have a longing for this stimulation, most people will subordinate these desires to society's expectations of socially acceptable behavior. Thus few of us become sexual addicts or sadists or serial killers. Hence, the assertion by the media and oth

Expert Advice for Parents on Television

Newton Minnow is a former chairman of the FCC. Minnow is also an excellent writer who argues in this book that television is most probably unsuitable for children. Why?Television is focused on profit alone; sells young viewers to advertisers; wastes 23 hours a week of the average child; brings about violence and obesity, low grades, irresponsibility and poor social patterns in some children; is controlled by advertising agencies and not by people who serve the real needs of children; probably leads children away from reflective thinking and toward information-processing; gives some children negative impressions that will last a lifetime; hunts for children viewers like sharpshooters; is the subject of over three thousand sociological studies; has a history of calling "an intrusion" that which is a reasonable limit; is in the business of making a profit alone; has six and a half hours of program-length commercials on Saturday mornings; is motivated by a compulsion and not sound reasons based on studies in child psychology; and tends to trigger prejudice, fear and despair. The above is unsuitable for children.Minnow writes on page 12, "Broadcasting and television industries quickly drew their own map of the United States. Communities became markets, citizens became customers, and children became fair game."

Wonderfully informative and extremely interesting

I read this book for a media class I took, and I enjoyed it very much. Minow has been an advocate for quality television since he was Kennedy's FCC chairman, and he obviously continues to champion for what should be a simple thing. Minow and LaMay have a great chapter in this book about the history of television that beats everything I've previously read. I particularly liked the way they talked about a stranger in the house, and how our society allows violence and bloodshed into our homes everyday without a care for what our children are seeing, or how they are reacting to it. Their discussion of the talk shows that are on TV during after-school hours was a shock to me. There must be something we can do as a society to give our children the gift of quality TV without violence.I think Minow and LaMay should be commended for their insights and willingness to tackle such a huge problem.

Edition Details

Publisher:Hill and Wang
Lowest Price:$3.59
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