Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Media and Society and Me

I’ve been invited to teach “Media and Society” this summer at Portland Community College.

I haven’t taught this particular course in 35 years. Eons ago in media terms. Back then we got excited about stuff like "The Fairness Doctrine" and "Community Access Television."

I see the task of preparation and teaching "Media and Society" today as a little like wrestling an octopus. Media tentacles everywhere. Video games. Web sites. Text messaging. Facebook. Convergence. Old Media/New Media. Rupert Murdoch-Jon Stewart-Rush Limbaugh-The Simpsons-Al Jazeera. Sex. Violence. Mayhem. This American Life.


Where is Marshall McLuhan when we need him? I know, I know — I should be careful what I wish for. Still, it takes some kind of mad (Canadian?) wizard to enter into today’s media fray.

The text that has been previously used in the PCC course is also in limbo. The book’s title is “Media Today.” But the book itself is literally unavailable today or tomorrow or the day after. The new edition is coming out in August, too late to be of use in the summer class. The old edition is out of print, and no doubt out of date.

By the way, when the book becomes available, a paperback edition goes for a jaw-dropping $85. The hardbound is a cool $150. But then, in the spirit of the subject, the book comes with — and here I quote from the publisher’s catalog — “an enclosed DVD with media examples and an interactive companion website featuring a full range of instructor and student materials including study podcasts….”

Weighing all this, I’m thinking PCC should offer a course about the course. Kind of media navel-gazing. The “text” at the very least should come with a brick-sized operating manual, which would have its own DVD and podcasts etc.

Suffice to say, I’m still thinking about whether to enter the ring with this beast.

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