Monday, December 22, 2008

What people know about professions is in part due to direct experience, in part due to what other people have told them, and in part due to how these jobs are portrayed in the mass media.

That's why I've always thought it'd be cool to teach a class in the image of journalists in in popular culture. But of course, like all great ideas, someone thought of it first. Grrr.
They even have a neat mission statement:
The mission of the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture, a project of The Norman Lear Center at USC Annenberg, is to investigate and analyze, through research and publication, the conflicting images of the journalist in film, television, radio, fiction, commercials, cartoons, comic books, music, art, demonstrating their impact on the American public's perception of newsgatherers.
Typical -- I'm always far behind the curve, back over the hill, not even to the bend, lost somewhere without a map and never willing to ask directions. I still think it'd be a cool graduate class to offer, but honestly it'd work better if one of our history folks took it on.

All professions suffer, or are helped by, how they are portrayed in the mass media. TV does the most good, or most damage, to a lot of jobs. I expect my doctors to all be tortured geniuses like House. I'd love to see someone do a careful analysis of popular presentations of "the journalist" and track that with attitudes the public has about journalists to see if there is any correlation, any effect on what people know about news gatherers. My hunch? No relationship at all, but it'd be fun to find out.

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