Posted by: lmbshepard | October 3, 2011

Yes, I watch the Rachel Zoe Project

It’s been some time since I’ve kept a media log and I didn’t expect to take much away from the experience other than verification that I consume a lot of media. However, as the week wore on and I read Thomas E. Ruggiero’s work on uses and gratification and began Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins I began to have a deeper understanding of how I consume media.I am proud to say I did not make my media use look loftier than it really is as suggested in the Ruggiero work. It’s all in there — from the highbrow New York Times to lowbrow reality television like the Rachel Zoe Project and Survivor.  My media use is in line with the years of research quoted by Ruggiero especially the research done by Katz, Blumler, & Gurevitch in 1974 regarding functions served by specific content or the medium.
My media consumption is quite structured and sometimes even ritualistic. You can set a clock by my usage of certain forms of media particularly radio. My use of radio falls in line with the work of Mendelsohn (1964) as quoted by Ruggiero that generalizes functions of radio listening which includes “bracketing the day.”  If it is 6:30 a.m. Oregon Public Broadcasting is on and in the evening the familiar voice of Terry Gross is heard along with the sounds of my kitchen.
I wrote that my media use quite structured. What keeping a media log for the last week has taught me is that a majority of my media consumption is in service of my job or furthering myself in my profession.  Ruggiero quotes the work of Grunig (1979) that suggests that “people sometimes seek media content that has a functional relation to situations in which they are involved.” I don’t think this point is surprising what I find surprising about my media consumption is that I rarely consume media for gratification outside of professional gratification. When I do choose media that doesn’t have a “functional relation” to my situation the media is in line with the work of Heeter and Greenburg (1985) that suggested most viewers  choose “a repertoire” they prefer (although I really enjoy reading about my profession –  I am a geek).  My preferences are played out in my media log by the television programs or magazines I select when not focused on work or career matters. In my log you’ll find me watching DVR’d reality programing and other frothy programming that plays no functional relation to my life other than maybe aspiration to the glamorous, care-free life I don’t have or nostalgia for my younger years.
In the beginning I didn’t expect to get much from keeping a media log but with the readings I found it an instructive exercise. I learned quite a lot about how I use media, the gratification I take from it and how the media manipulates even the most aware consumers of media.
Discussion questions:
1.  Given our society’s reliance and even ritualistic use of media is deprivation of media such a bad thing?
2.  Is demassification helpful or harmful?
3.  Is transmedia storytelling killing film?


  1. In regards to the question of whether transmedia storytelling is killing film, I say no. If the ancillary platforms enrich the story and the fan experience, they extend the love of the film. Each platform, though, has to stand alone. if the film is incomprehensible on its own and the filmmakers expect the audience to go to other platforms to draw information just to understand the story, that’s asking too much. Likewise if the other platforms are just veiled ways to increase revenue without a good experience for the user, that also fails. Peter Jackson and New Line did a great job with Lord of the Rings.

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