This blog post is an essay response from a class I took at the Rochester Institute of Technology, WGST-357: Communication, Gender, and Media. This course was taught by Dr. Nickesia Gordon. The essay prompt encouraged us to reflect broadly on the role of media in society. I liked my response and wanted to re-share it on my blog.

(Dr. Gordon, if you find this: I hope you don’t mind, I mean the best!)

What are some ways in which media interlocks with other institutions? What does this interlocking suggest about the role of media in society?

Media is a fundamental aspect to other institutions, if media is considered a form of communication. Media is defined broadly: pictures, videos, interactive content, games, social media, and journalism, to name a few. Media interlocks with other institutions as a tool that fits into other categories of work, in an intersectional way.

To use social media as an example, the government of Iran is an example of how a totalitarian institution manipulates media to influence popular opinion and perspective, and also to drown out voices of activists and those fighting for social justice. The Washington Post is a newspaper owned by the world’s wealthiest man, who also runs one of the companies that wields increasing reach over many aspects of our digital life. The relationship of media institutions as reliable and trustworthy platforms of information and perspective is jeopardized by the corrupting role of power, often in the form of money and capital.

Identifying how the role of media is influenced by power is a vital skill to be a consumer of information in the 21st century. At an unprecedented rate, we consume information more than any other generation before us. The availability of information at our fingertips on the Internet and the advent of ephemeral media requires us to process more information than our brains can handle. In lieu of a surplus of media, content, and information, it is important to be able to question our media, its motives, and to understand biases that may be at play to persuade us to view a topic or issue a particular way.

Justin W. Flory (Dec. 13, 2019)