Television: A Vast Improvement Argumentative Essay by TUESDAY

Argues that television is no longer the "vast wasteland" as describe in 1961 by Newton Minow.
# 151230 | 1,860 words | 15 sources | MLA | 2011 | US
Published on May 30, 2012 in Communication (Television) , Film (Television) , Sociology (Media and Society)

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This paper explains that, although television has not changed drastically since, in 1961, Newton Minow stated that television was "a vast wasteland" in need diversity and risk-taking rather than being focused on ratings and profit, this descriptor is no longer appropriate for this mass media. Next, the author points out that today there are still popular show genre, such as similar action-adventure and situation comedy, as in 1961; however, now, a wider range of choices from well-liked reality shows such as Survivor and American Idol, to high quality educational shows from entire new channels ha dedicated to learning, such as PBS and The History Channel, is available. The paper argues that, although the content of television will continue to be driven by ratings, television slowly is providing many more choices as their audience demands.

From the Paper:

"Newton Minow criticized the idea that television's content is driven merely by ratings, emphasizing that "a rating, at best, is an indication of how many people saw what you gave them." This seems to be true, especially in relation to reality programming. Even though Americans are increasingly bored with reality television --40% surveyed in 2010 referred to it as being "the most overdone genre"--the fact remains that they're still watching these shows. During the summer of that same year, for example, "on broadcast television, 15 of the top 20 highest-rated programs among [viewers aged 18 to 49] were reality or unscripted shows" , and Jersey Shore, a reality show in its 4th season, is currently one of the most popular shows on cable television . It seems that networks have ignored Minow's advice and focused on appealing to the lowest common denominator, but this has not resulted in a decline in viewership as Minow warned. Instead, the public is opinionated about reality television being low in quality while they still watch the very shows they criticize, as if it were a guilty pleasure. This is because reality television pulls in the viewer with its voyeuristic qualities; it has strong appeal in a culture where "curious peeking into the private lives of others has become a defining characteristic"."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • A&E News. "Intervention Receives Two Nominations for the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards." A&E News, 16 July 2009. Web. 2 Oct. 2011.
  • Baruh, Lemi. "Publicized Intimacies on Reality Television: An Analysis of Voyeuristic Content and Its Contribution to the Appeal of Reality Programming." Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. 53.2 (2009): 190-210. Web. 1 Oct. 2011.
  • Biagi, Shirley. Media/Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, 2011. Print.
  • Carter, Brian. "Tired of Reality TV, but Still Tuning In." New York Times 13 Sept. 2010. Web. 1 Oct. 2011.
  • Christakis, Dimitri. "The Effects of Fast-Paced Cartoons." Pediatrics. 128.4 (2011): 772-774. Web. 1 Oct. 2011.

Cite this Argumentative Essay:

APA Format

Television: A Vast Improvement (2012, May 30) Retrieved January 17, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Television: A Vast Improvement" 30 May 2012. Web. 17 January. 2021. <>