Media Unlimited: Does the Media Overwhelm Our Lives?

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Think about a typical day in any American's life. You wake up to your clock radio; turn on the "Today" show while you get ready; head out to your car where Howard Stern is waiting for you; ride the elevator up to the office, listening to soothing elevator music; sit in front of a computer all day, at least part of which time is spent surfing the Internet and checking email; then head home listening to your favorite CD on the car stereo, just to flip on the television when you get there.

The media has become so prevalent, that it is nearly impossible to escape it, wherever you go, argues Todd Gitlin, author of the new book, "Media Unlimited." The result is a culture in constant need of stimulation. The media purposely fosters a collective short attention span in order to maintain its grip, Gitlin asserts. And the resulting onslaught of media encourages disposable emotions and casual commitments, and threatens to make democracy a sideshow.

This hour, the toll Americans pay for living in such a media-saturated society


Todd Gitlin, professor of culture, journalism and sociology at New York University, author of "Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives"

Robert Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University

This program aired on May 1, 2002.


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