Despite Mean World Syndrome, The World Isn't As Dangerous As It's Portrayed
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Think about the last time you checked the news. Did you feel good afterward? Or, as is often the case these days, did you feel more afraid, angry, cynical, and hopeless? Broadcast news has developed over the years to compete with entertainment for TV ratings. As a result, they tend to sensationalize danger and wrongdoing, evoking fears of corruption and impending doom. The negative effects this has on society at large make up what communications specialist George Gerbner has called the Mean World Syndrome.The Mean World Syndrome is one of Gerbner's main points under his cultivation theory, which deals with the impact watching television has on how we see the world. The Mean World Syndrome goes one step further, describing the perception that the world is more dangerous than it really is based on what's shown in mass media. According to The Atlantic, there are 3,000 studies before 1971 alone that suggest "a strong connection between television watching and aggression." A lot has been done to shield children from violence on television, but Gerbner argues that we're missing the point. Instead of focusing on ways to hide the violence, he questions the ways in which the violence is portrayed.
Slow TV Broadcasts Hours Of Mundane Activities, And People Love It
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Fast-paced, gripping thrillers make for must-watch television. But, perhaps, so does a 24-hour live broadcast of fishermen catching salmon. That's the premise behind Norway's Slow TV, a genre of television that shows mundane, slow-moving activities in real-time. Its debut broadcast showed the concept's promise: The first program, which aired in 2009, showed a seven-hour train ride and attracted one million viewers, which is roughly 20% of Norway's population. Slow TV came to Netflix in August of 2016, so now viewers beyond Scandinavia and Europe can enjoy the calming streams. Beyond the fishermen broadcast, Slow TV has also captured a 135-hour Norwegian cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes, and 14 hours of birds in a cafe, and a marathon night of knitting. Watch a Slow TV sample in the video below, and learn more about the genre.
The Average NFL Game Has Only 11 Minutes Of Action
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Anyone who has ever tuned into an NFL broadcast knows that plenty of air time is spent showing players huddling, coaches yelling, and fans cheering. That's because while the on-field action can be exciting, it's usually short-lived. In fact, according to a 2010 Wall Street Journal study of four football broadcasts, the ball was only in play for an average of 10 minutes and 43 seconds — approximately 4 seconds per play — even though an NFL telecast lasts about 3 hours. "The Journal broke down every frame of the broadcasts for four games on four networks on one weekend in late December," according to the article that elaborated on the study. "Each shot in every broadcast was timed and logged in one of 22 categories." So what's happening for the rest of the broadcast? Commercials, for one. They demand about an hour of airtime. Replays take about 17 minutes, footage of cheerleaders command about 3 seconds, and shots of players standing around make up an average of 67 minutes, according to WSJ. So why are football broadcasts such a production if there's so little action? Find out in the videos below.
The Unexpected And Unparalleled Success Of 1977's "Roots"
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In 1977, television executives doubted that a miniseries with black protagonists and white villains could net good ratings. They approached advertising for "Roots" cautiously and pessimistically, highlighting the presence of famous white television actors who actually played secondary characters in the program. It's rumored that airing "Roots" on consecutive nights was also a tactic to guard against losses, one that would allow ABC to pull the show before sweeps week started. However, "Roots" was an unprecedented success: about 85% of American homes with televisions tuned in for all or some of the miniseries. In 2016, its finale still holds the record for the second most watched series finale in American history. Not only did the program succeed, but it brought the horrors of slavery and ongoing racial injustices to the forefront of the country's consciousness.
Science Says Sesame Street Makes Kids Smarter, Even In High School
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Children who watch Sesame Street as a preschooler have higher academic achievement that lasts all the way into high school. Researchers have dubbed this the "Sesame effect."
from Sesame Street
Key Facts to Know
Before the age of 5, the brain forms as many as 700 neural connections per second. 1:02
"The Sesame effect" refers to the fact that children who grew up watching Sesame Street tend to receive higher academic marks than those who didn't. 1:32
Children in Bangladesh who watch Sesame Street perform 67% higher in literacy than those who don't watch it. 2:00