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Advertising has changed, as technology and media have allowed consumers to bypass traditional advertising venues. From the invention of the remote control, which allows us to ignore television advertising without leaving our seats, to recording devices that let us watch television programs but skip the ads, conventional advertising is on the wane. And print media is no different. Advertising revenue in newspapers and on television fell significantly in 2009, showing that companies need new ways of getting their message to consumers.

One model companies are considering to address this advertising downturn uses the same philosophy as celebrity endorsements, just on a different scale. Companies are hiring college students to be their on-campus representatives, looking for popular students involved in high-profile activities like sports, fraternities, and music. The marketing team is betting that if we buy perfume because Beyoncé tells us to, we’ll also choose our cell phone or smoothie if a popular student encourages that brand. According to an article in the New York Times , fall semester 2011 saw an estimated 10,000 American college students working on campus as brand ambassadors for products from Red Bull energy drinks to Hewlett-Packard computers (Singer 2011). As the companies figure it, college students will trust one source of information above all: other students.

Homogenization and fragmentation

Despite the variety of media at hand, the mainstream news and entertainment you enjoy are increasingly homogenized. Research by McManus (1995) suggests that different news outlets all tell the same stories, using the same sources, resulting in the same message, presented with only slight variations. So whether you are reading the New York Times or the CNN’s web site, the coverage of national events like a major court case or political issue will likely be the same.

Simultaneous to this homogenization among the major news outlets, the opposite process is occurring in the newer media streams. With so many choices, people increasingly “customize” their news experience, minimizing “chance encounters” with information that does not jive with their worldview (Prior 2005). For instance, those who are staunchly Republican can avoid centrist or liberal-leaning cable news shows and web sites that would show Democrats in a favorable light. They know to seek out Fox News over MSNBC, just as Democrats know to do the opposite. Further, people who want to avoid politics completely can choose to visit web sites that deal only with entertainment or that will keep them up to date on sports scores. They have an easy way to avoid information they do not wish to hear.

Summary

Media and technology have been interwoven from the earliest days of human communication. The printing press, the telegraph, and the internet are all examples of their intersection. Mass media has allowed for more shared social experiences, but new media now creates a seemingly endless amount of airtime for any and every voice that wants to be heard. Advertising has also changed with technology. New media allows consumers to bypass traditional advertising venues, causing companies to be more innovative and intrusive as they try to gain our attention.

Short answer

Where and how do you get your news? Do you watch network television? Read the newspaper? Go online? How about your parents or grandparents? Do you think it matters where you seek out information? Why or why not?

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Do you believe new media allows for the kind of unifying moments that television and radio programming used to? If so, give an example.

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Where are you most likely to notice advertisements? What causes them to catch your attention?

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Further research

To get a sense of the timeline of technology, check out this web site: (External Link)

To learn more about new media, click here: (External Link)

References

Anderson, C.A., and B.J. Bushman. 2001. “Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature.” Psychological Science 12:353–359.

Anderson, Craig. 2003. “Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts and Unanswered Questions.” American Psychological Association , October. Retrieved January 13, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Anderson, Philip and Michael Tushman. 1990. “Technological Discontinuities and Dominant Designs: A Cyclical Model of Technological Change.” Administrative Science Quarterly 35:604–633.

Lievrouw, Leah A. and Sonia Livingstone, eds. 2006. Handbook of New Media: Social Shaping and Social Consequences . London : SAGE Publications.

McManus, John. 1995. “A Market-Based Model of News Production.” Communication Theory 5:301–338.

Pew Research Center. 2010. “State of the News Media 2010.” Pew Research Center Publications , March 15. Retrieved January 24, 2012 ( [link] ).

Prior, Markus. 2005. “News vs. Entertainment: How Increasing Media Choice Widens Gaps in Political Knowledge and Turnout.” American Journal of Political Science 49(3):577–592.

ProCon. 2012. “Video Games.” January 5. Retrieved January 12, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Singer, Natasha. 2011. “On Campus, It’s One Big Commercial.” New York Times , September 10. Retrieved February 10, 2012 ( (External Link)&_r=1&ref=education ).

United States Patent and Trademark Office. 2012. “General Information Concerning Patents.” Retrieved January 12, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

van de Donk, W., B.D. Loader, P.G. Nixon, and D. Rucht, eds. 2004. Cyberprotest: New Media, Citizens, and Social Movements . New York: Routledge.

World Association of Newspapers. 2004. “Newspapers: A Brief History.” Retrieved January 12, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology course at grand river academy. OpenStax CNX. Jan 14, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11616/1.1
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