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New Media, Communication, and Society

A Fast, Straightforward Examination of Key Topics

Mary Ann Allison and Cheryl A. Casey

New Media, Communication, and Society is a fast, straightforward examination of key topics which will be useful and engaging for both students and professors. It connects students to wide-ranging resources and challenges them to develop their own opinions. Moreover, it encourages students to develop media literacy so they can speak up and  make a difference in the world. Short chapters with lots of illustrations encourage reading and provide a springboard for conversation inside and outside of the classroom. Wide-ranging topics spark interest. Chapters include suggestions for additional exploration, a media literacy exercise, and a point that is just for fun. Every chapter includes thought leaders, ranging from leading researchers to business leaders to entrepreneurs, from Socrates to Doug Rushkoff and Lance Strate to Bill Gates.

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3 People of the Word (Cheryl A. Casey)

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CHAPTER 3

People of the Word

Cheryl A. Casey

It all comes back to the word

At the beginning of my introductory media studies course, I ask the students to choose a metaphor that they think best describes mass media. They draw their metaphor on a large piece of paper and explain how they see it connecting to the process of mass communication. In a recent class, one group of students chose the metaphor of a spider web. Caught in the middle of their spider web was a large, red pair of lips (see Figure 3.1).

Figure 3.1. Model of communication developed by first-year Media & Society students at Champlain College. ← 13 | 14 →

When asked to explain the metaphor, one of the students remarked that no matter how complicated, entangling, and dynamic our media world is, it all comes back to the word. We started with language, with words, and we have been sharing words in all kinds of forms—from talking to texting—since the first word was uttered. No matter where our technologies take us, we will always have words along for the ride.

This metaphor in particular caught my attention because many of the great debates throughout history about the merits and dangers of media have revolved around the word. Philosophers, educators, and politicians have long deliberated the power of words.

They have also questioned how words relate...

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