This quote helps demonstrate the integrative and essential relationship between culture and media:
“All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. The medium is the massage. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments.” McLuhan, Fiore The Medium is the Massage, p. 26
As I am increasingly interested in pursuing a career in journalism, it has become extremely important that I understand the effects that journalism can have on society and culture, as well as the effects society and culture can have on journalism. This relationship goes both ways, and in either situation can be positive or negative. For example, if a reporter covers a highly charged, political issue without bias, they have the potential to reveal social realities and societal shortcomings to people of all mindsets and ideologies, positively expanding the public’s awareness. On the other hand, if a reporter sensationalizes the very same issue, a community may be polarized or misinformed as a result. Hence, it is vital that I enter the workforce with a strong understanding of the relationship between culture and media, and how one may influence the other both.
Therefore, this major is highly integrative because journalism and intercultural issues have historically and consistently come hand-in-hand. In every social movement throughout U.S. history, journalists and artists have been integral to the furthering and documentation of the events that take place. Multifaceted knowledge of contemporary cultural issues as well as the history of them are essential when it comes to navigating the disparities between different groups today as well as how to address them. Because the documentation of such issues often necessitates intimate communication with people of varying backgrounds, beliefs and experiences, it is vital that all writers and journalists are able to work with cultural sensitivity, ethical representation and history at the forefront of their minds. In this way, journalists can then produce a piece that takes into account a wholesome and complete experience. Consequently, the present condition of an individual or social group can be contextualized and documented in lieu of an informed perspective. Language, rhetoric and journalistic ethics are all vital to ensuring that no person or group is invalidated or disrespected in that journalistic process.
Therefore, the goal of my CIS major is to combine contemporary intercultural studies and communications insofar as I will be prepared to research, write and produce consumable products of media related to complex, important and sensitive topics.
This major is related to other areas of study including anthropology, sociology, journalism and social work because each of these fields seek to assess varying societies, groups and individuals, to in turn address the unique characteristics and difficulties that they express or experience. Having a well-rounded understanding of social issues in the United States is vital to each of these fields. Furthermore, the ability to document and communicate about them is integral whether it be in the form of grant writing, ethnographic research or a journalistic documentary.
This major is an excellent liberal arts degree because it contains myriad facets and dimensions, all applicable to varying vocational opportunities. The courses included in this major that focus on the hegemonic cultures of the U.S., marginalized groups, as well as periods of resistance and change, have already begun to train me to think critically when it comes to all societal norms and practices. They have encouraged me to dissect my own perspectives and beliefs, as well as those of others, whether they belong to my peers or my professors. In doing so, I have simultaneously learned how to engage in difficult conversations with people both internal and external to campus, ranging from administrators to professors to my political (and sometimes, moral) opposites. The journalistic side of this degree has contributed to my liberal arts education in several ways thus far in the form of improved writing skills, interviewing skills and multimedia skills.
Three primary aspects I hope to gain from the coursework and final project of this CIS major include a strong demand of U.S. history and current social issues, the ability to communicate with people about these issues and the skills necessary to document them. With these attributes that I believe to be important for any informed resident of the U.S. and citizen of the world, a wide range of important fields will hold possible future careers. I believe this major will prepare me not only to pursue my vocation of being a writer, but also to better understand our world and advocate for a better one.