What is media? It is the newspaper you pick up in the morning on the tube on the way to your job. It is the social media apps you check on your phone throughout the day. It the video games you play after class. It is the movies you watch with your friends at the cinema. It is the poster advertisement you see on a billboard on the side of a building. It is the commercial you see in-between your tv programs. Media is the evening news you turn on before bed. Arguably, media is the communication of a message between one person to an audience.
The point is, media is not only journalists out covering a press conference, breaking news or a sporting event. Media is everywhere and it is involved in everyone’s lives. Media is big in America, especially lately with politics. Media is just as big in the United Kingdom countries as it is in America.
We stayed in London during an important time for the country. London was undergoing an election for the new prime minister. Throughout our time there, we spoke to journalism professionals who gave us a glimpse of media coverage for the race. When we arrived in Scotland, there were newspapers and news coverage about updates on the Brexit issue, because that pertains to that country. This helped me draw a parallel to the US when we had our 2016 election and the coverage between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I may be wrong, but American media seemed to have a lot more press coverage and controversial coverage about candidates than the U.K. had.
The biggest thing I learned and connection I made in Scotland is that media is so much more than news. Picture this: You are watching a film about a boy growing up in a trailer park in America. The film shows what everyday life is like. It shows the boy riding his bike to the park with his friends. It shows the kids getting into a little bit of mischief. It shows the parents struggling to make ends meet and it shows how it affects the children growing up. Or picture a film where a child is gay and has to hide his life from his parents who are disapproving and very religious. Imagine watching his internal struggle and feeling sympathy for the boy. Through the camera and through the character’s’ lives, you get a sense of understanding. You get a feel of what they are going through but the difference is at the end of the day, you get to continue your life and forget about it but you realize there are people in this world who actually go through these experiences. Film is media. Film is media because most films try to expose an issue to the public, or try to get you to feel how someone else feels through the eyes of a character. Many films derive from a real-life event or they simulate an event that took place. Many films also emulate feelings that people have that the rest of the world might not understand. Film is media because it is sending a message from one person to an audience.
Video games are no different. Some video games seem just like entertainment and do not seem to have any significance at all. Certain games can be argued as being media because it puts the gamer in a situation which they might not normally be. Some games put the audience in a war, like call of duty, and some games put viewers in a story where they have to find their way through it. Video games tell a story, and most stories have lessons. After each game, the gamer leaves with some message they did not have before. Music is even media. An artist can communicate stories or feelings through song lyrics. The music sends off sounds that we listen to and it makes us feel something.
Communication is all around us and media is all around us. Honestly, the media in the U.K. is not much different from media in the Unites States. We all wake up in the morning and check our phones. We all pick up a newspaper every now and then throughout our day, we all see television commercials in between our favorite shows, we all see advertisements on the streets, we all talk to each other, we all watch movies and listen to music and hear the central messages. The only difference I might spot is that the markets for certain jobs in media might be better in one country versus another. For example, in London, the presenters for ITV said that there is much less pressure to be on television in the U.K. than in America. Also, Dianne from the Edinburgh International Film Festival said that it is easier for filmmakers in the U.K. to share their films to an audience than it is in Africa because U.K. filmmakers are less concerned with making a profit than they are with haring their art.
What I learned from this trip is that the U.K. and parts of Europe I visited are not too different from the United States in the sense of media. Sometimes, when you have never been out of the U.S. before, you think that we are the best country and that we are the most advanced. When I thought of Ireland, I thought it would be full of grassland and sheep (which it is) but there are also cities that are just as developed if not more than parts of the U.S. like Belfast. When I thought of London I thought it would be very old and classic, but it felt like a little New York City. When I thought of Scotland, I thought it would be a lot of mountains and castles, which there were, but it held places like the British Broadcasting Corporation and the film festival. In conclusion, comparing media from the U.K. to the U.S. was a little difficult because I found a lot of similarities and just a few differences. The greatest thing I learned from this entire experience is a greater understanding of what media is, I gained deeper knowledge in different communication fields and industries that I would have never explored before, I learned culture and traveling and independence, and I gained a deeper understanding of myself and what I want in life.