Print media advertising impacts consumerism and cultural values in many ways. Newspapers and various magazines have dominated the presence of print media in the development of American popular culture. Print media also propagates social trends that affect the human body, consumerism and social responsibility either directly or indirectly. For the most part, print media has given rise to both positive and negative consequences on the human perception towards culture.
Fashion magazines have been major factors in propagating the human image and the latest fashion trends, thereby dictating both the public awareness and the acceptable image in the society. By repeatedly publishing specific images that are given positive descriptions, magazines from health and fashion to music tend to take control of American popular culture. On the other hand, newspapers circulate information to the general public. That being said, the news stories and other articles published by newspapers are absorbed into the public’s awareness whether or not they approve of the content of these articles.
In effect, the stories that newspapers publish and newspapers themselves contribute to the development of popular culture in America. For instance, the recent news stories about Sarah Palin—the Republican Vice-presidential candidate for the 2008 national elections—portraying her as the “attack dog” of the Grand Old Party against the Democratic presidential nominee has made her a part of American popular culture in just a short span of time. There have been at least three trends propagated by the print media affecting the development of American popular culture.
First, there was a time when fashion magazines published images of skinny models, thereby creating the public impression that to be thin is to be “in” and “acceptable”. In effect, my perception about being healthy and physically appealing at the same time was caught in a direct conflict against the trends propagated by these fashion magazines. It is in my belief that any person regardless of body frame or size of hips and waist can have a healthy lifestyle that is visually attractive without resorting to methods that make the body ultra skinny.
Another trend propagated by the print media is the image of top-performing athletes wearing specific brands of sporting apparels, as if signifying that the potential of the individual to perform at his best in sports depends on the shoes the athlete is wearing, for instance. This trend creates an illusion that promotes consumerism, tempting the buying public to identify strongly with these sporting goods and, in a way, depending on them to boost their athletic performance or to simply enhance their status in the society.
I think that this trend causes harm to the American society because it feeds the capitalist motives of companies, thereby giving less consideration for the social responsibilities of these companies. Lastly, the print media has also propagated the trend of showing either bias or favor to certain political ideologies. While the freedom of expression is guaranteed by the American Constitution, it has responsibilities attached to it.
Thus, the print media should avoid showing political bias or favoritism since either of these two attitudes can unfairly influence public opinion. I think the print media should be politically neutral, taking no political side and publishing political stories from all political angles possibly involved. I also think that doing so is a part of the social responsibility of the print media outlets, especially newspapers, since the articles that they publish and circulate can greatly shape American popular culture.