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File-Sharing Television in Newman’s Article

Television is a rather powerful resource that has been having a massive influence on its viewers ever since it first emerged as a social phenomenon. The impact of television in the process of shaping public opinions and moods has been researched for many decades. Today, scholars realize that this media can be used effectively to shape the perceptions and ideas of the population if it is used in a certain manner.

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The article called “Witnessing: US citizenship and the vicarious experience of suffering” by Rentschler (2004) explores the influence of the images showed on TV (those of violence in particular) on the audience as the contributors to the worldviews and mindsets of the viewers. The author discusses how the framing of tragic events may be portrayed from just one angle, thus, shaping the beliefs of the masses and encouraging them to stay biased and ignore the opposing perspectives.

The article “Free TV: File-Sharing and the Value of Television” by Newman (2012) focuses on the new form of television that has become more popular recently – file-sharing. The free TV ensures much more flexibility for this media and brings in more diversity. Two more readings used in this paper explore the same subject taking into consideration its various aspects and dimensions. All in all, the question this essay attempts to answer is whether or not the additional readings help one to understand the first article.

While Rentschler describes an older model of television with its fixed standards and easy to manipulate views, the reading by Newman that has been published eight years after the first article portrays a newer version of TV, interestingly, the two forms of television as described by the authors can be compared and contrasted. The differences between them illustrate the development of the process of globalization that has made a massive leap over the last decade, removing multiple barriers and making the level of connectivity and information in the world much higher.

The modern viewers no longer follow popular broadcasted channels with fixed schedules and the programs that were selected by the directors. Instead, the contemporary viewers tend to shape their own playlists choosing programs they prefer and sharing files they deem interesting and important with the other individuals. Newman (2012) points out three important features of the modern free TV – the increased cultural reflectivity (since now the viewers shape the content), the change of status of TV from the public to provide good (more customized and organized based on the specific needs of the consumers), and more cosmopolitan and less bound to geographical areas.

Also, one could mention another important aspect of the new TV – its personalization and individualization. Compared to the older model of television that was designed to address the needs and interests of the masses, the contemporary TV can be adjusted for each individual viewer. Due to all of these newly obtained characteristics, modern television’s value is changing rapidly and radically (Newman, 2012).

Rentschler’s (2004) criticism of television at the beginning of the 2000s is focused on its ignorant orientation towards the majority of the parts of the society that have more power and influence. As a result of that tendency, the interests and problems of the socially weaker populations were neglected and overlooked. In other words, due to the orientation of television on the majority, the rest of the society had no voice to express their concerns and problems and make their more powerful peers pay attention to them. Only with the help of the article by Newman, a reader can make a clear association of the influence the television has (or used to have) and the model according to which it functions.

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That way, the TV designed to attract the masses was biased to represent the majority and leave the depowered part of the population unnoticed or support the negative stereotypes about it. The new model of TV has been impacted by the globalization process. Therefore, it is more diverse, tolerant, and flexible, matching the needs of many different communities and presenting the events for a variety of perspectives. That way, the biases are defeated, and a more open-minded portrayal of the events worldwide is accomplished.

Another reading that is rather helpful in the understanding of the meaning of the article by Rentschler is the book by Morley (1999). This book has been released even before the article by Rentschler; as a result, one may assume that the model of television discussed and explored there is the older one with fixed schedules and the programs selected by the TV channels. The author discusses the problems of the interpretation of the images shown on TV by the audience and the use of television in the daily lives of the families (Morley, 1999).

Moreover, the two phenomena mentioned above are examined in correlation. In fact, the reading is related to both articles discussed above as it also raises a question of the changing use of the television with the addition of such options as recording programs and seeing them later, and renting or buying videotapes. That way, Morley (1999) points out the changes in the role and function of TV as the technological progress enabled the viewers to shape their own content according to their likes. Therefore, the author notes that the first changes in the use of television occurred as soon as the audience was given a chance to choose what they want to watch with the help of more flexible television.

Further, elaborating on the manipulative power of the television designed for masses, Poniewozik’s article “How Reality TV Fakes It” focuses on the specific mechanisms and techniques that are created to appeal to the viewers and make them follow reality shows. Using the reality shows as an example, the author demonstrates how different unfair and untrustworthy techniques help the show makers create a fake story out of nothing manipulating the words, relationships, events, and expressions (Poniewozik, 2006).

The author lists and explains the concepts and mechanisms of Frankenbiting, fake settings, the overdub, and misleading montage, among others. The examples and illustrations of the use of these tricks in the reality TV make it clear that the mere word “reality” is absolutely out of place in this phrase knowing what it actually stands for. Poniewozik (1999) clearly explains that very often, the reality is not interesting or dull. Therefore, it would be extremely difficult to market in its initial form.

That is why the tricks are added to make it more exciting for the viewers who wish to see scandals, conflicts, clashes, and tense situations. That way, the addition of the misleading techniques benefits both sides – the viewers and the makers. Based on the dynamics of reality TV and its popularity, one may conclude that the audience is interested in being tricked and lied to if the fake stories turn out fascinating and captivating.

Having examined all of the four sources, it is possible to compare the use of the television today and a decade ago. The difference is striking as the form of TV has changed significantly over time, and so did its role to a certain extent. Without being controlled from the side of the makers of the content, the contemporary television is more personalized and flexible. Today, the shows attempt to fulfill the needs of many different groups of the population since the viewers tend to build and choose their own content. In other words, the strategies have changed based on which the programs are designed and marketed targeting certain customer bases.

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To sum up, the article by Rentschler makes its point very well, and the author’s perspective is clear. However, the additional readings by Poniewozik, Morley, and Newman bring new angles to the perspective of the first author and shed even more light on her topic. That way, to answer the essay question, the research of additional readings concerning the same subjects does not only make it easier for the reader to understand the initial point but also ensures deeper comprehension of the meaning of the issue and enables critical thinking. In other words, instead of seeing just one dimension of a problem, a reader is stripped of biases and able to notice its background, its development, and the factors that contributed to it.


Morley, D. (1999). Family Television: Cultural Power and Domestic Leisure. New York, NY: Routlege.

Newman, M. Z. (2012). Free TV: File-Sharing and the Value of Television. Television & New Media, 13(6) 463–479. Web.

Poniewozik, J. (2006). How Reality TV Fakes It. TIME Magazine, 167(6), 1-4.

Rentschler, C. A. (2004). Witnessing: US Citizenship and the Vicarious Experience of Suffering. Media Culture Society, 26(2): 296–304. Web.

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