"Make a Difference" TV

We sometimes hear from media students who want to make a difference in the world but are disillusioned by the mainstream media's alleged bland, commercialized, homogenized and restrictive approach to TV programming.

While this may be a valid criticism in some degree, there are still media opportunities for expressing innovative ideas and "making a difference." In fact, as viewers shift away from the big networks for their TV viewing, more and more options are available.

Elsewhere on this site we mention a young girl who posted a video on YouTube showing war wounded and maimed children in hospital beds with (if I have my facts straight) the lyrics, "Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World" playing in the background.

The video, which was played thousands of times, evoked a strong, and even hostile reaction with some people ....people who saw it simply as an anti-war message and probably didn't want to confront the uncomfortable irony.

While being forced to confront such realities is upsetting to some people, it also makes them think -- and possibly start to rethink and change their views.

In looking at this issue we need to know some things about human psychology, especially as it relates to accepting new ideas.

We know that personal security and stability are related to the willingness to entertain new ideas. As explained here insecure individuals erect various psychological defense mechanisms to protect themselves from new and (for them) uncomfortable ideas.

However, we also know that success in life is related to one's ability to adapt and change as needed. This especially true in a rapidly-changing field like broadcasting. Not to be willing to change and adapt means you will probably be left behind.

For example, when TV news switched from film to video many people resisted and refused to learn about the new technology.  They were left behind and eventually they either lost their jobs or were moved into simple, back room jobs, such as filing videotapes, with no chance of advancement. The same happened to those who resisted becoming computer literate.

The problem is that during times of personal or social uncertainty and stress people have a more limited tolerance for unconventional ideas, preferring the safe, the comfortable and the familiar.

This tenancy has even been demonstrated in the laboratory. In one experiment laboratory animals are first taught at an early age an ineffective way of dealing with a survival task.

Then, they are taught much faster, easier, and more direct way of dealing with the same survival problem -- a way which they immediately take to and prefer.

Later, however, when put under stress, and even when their very survival is at stake, they revert back to the earlier, inefficient way of "solving" the problem.

 

Ideas In Their Time

>>Many TV programs and films have been ahead of their time for specific audiences, and for that reason they were not initially successful. Some innovative TV programs only caught on later during reruns or when the same idea or technique was included in a later series.

Citizen Kane, considered by many to be the greatest film in U.S. history, was not initially well received by the general public. Its many innovative techniques were ahead of their time. It was only later that the public started to appreciate and understand what Orson Welles (considered to be a media genius) was doing.

As we know, many social innovations were opposed -- sometimes vehemently opposed -- by certain factions, only to be embraced later. 
" Examples abound, all the way from two-piece bathing suits to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible."

Thus, you can have a great idea -- and many truly creative people do -- but it can be ahead of its time.

Understanding the implications of the primary graph in this module should help in matching up new ideas with public acceptance

New Problems Vs.

Old Solutions

>> The problem is that new problems often demand new solutions, especially when the old solutions haven't been working.

While social change -- even badly needed social change -- may not be associated with the mainstream media or be popular with general audiences, there are media outlets that encourage new ideas. And once these ideas gain a foothold, they can move to general public acceptance. 

History is also full of examples of people and institutions that refused to change and in one way or another and were soon rendered "extinct." Many businesses have met this fate. The best-selling little book, Who Moved My Cheese?, illustrates this concept.

>> So media students who want to advance creative ideas, ideas that they feel need to be brought to the public's attention, should look to media outlets that will accept such ideas.

While short form sites such as YouTube are a good place to start, when you can make the transition to full-length documentaries, you enter a whole new arena and your work has the chance to be taken seriously.

HDNET is an example of a channel which has some serious and meaningful programming with high production values.

Less in the mainstream is WorldLink TV, (WorldLinkTV.org), which is available on many programming services and designed to serve, "the millions of Americans who desire to make positive change in our world." (World Link TV is at 9410 on the Dish Network and can be found on many other programming services.)

According to their mission statement:

WorldLink TV is the first national network offering a global perspective on news, current events and culture, presenting viewpoints seldom covered in the U.S. media. We present first-run documentaries on global issues, current affairs series, international news, classic foreign feature films, and the best of world music.

We focus on critical global issues, from human rights, justice and conflict prevention to environmental protection, sustainable development and preserving cultural integrity in the face of globalization.

Another example, although not quite as professional and often even more out of the mainstream, is FSTV (Free Speech TV) which is at 9415 on Dish TV (Free Speech TV. Org).

If you want to make a difference, you first have to present your ideas in a professional and effective way. An engaging, well done documentary is one of the best of way of doing this.


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