Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Most Memorable Mediated Experience


My most memorable mediated experience was the extraordinary tradegy of September, 11th, 2001. I was in my sophomore year at Great Neck North High School on Long Island. I remember the day like it was yesterday. All regular school class lessons stopped. A television was brought into every classroom. Students and teachers stared in amazement at the television as we watched the Twin Towers burn and eventually collapse to the ground. I’m not sure exactly which channel we were watching, but I assume it was one of the major news networks. I was sitting in “Select Singers” with my fellow choir members. Everyone was frantic, especially because most of our parents worked in the city, including my mother. There was no way to contact any of our parents. Our cell phones did not work. It seemed as if we were living in a parallel universe. Many students were hysterically crying, imagining the worst.

All levels of communication “or social interaction through messages” were occurring at this time. I experienced intrapersonal communication as I asked myself, “How could this happen?" "Was my mother anywhere near the World Trade Center at the time of the attack?” I also experienced interpersonal communication as I hugged a friend as she cried about what was happening and the possible loss of her father who was a fire fighter in the city. There was group communication as our teacher addressed the classroom and students shared their thoughts with other students. Lastly, we experienced mass communication as we watched the television coverage.

The Sender Message Channel Receiver or transmission model helps us to describe mass communication. In this case, the Sender was the large corporation which controlled the messages that went out through the television channel. There were few senders and many receivers. The message was that Al-Qaeda terrorists high jacked planes that flew straight into the Twin Towers, killing thousands. The Channel was audiovisual media, specifically the television. And the receiver was an anonymous audience of everyone and anyone with a remote control, specifically, in my situation, the students, faculty, and staff of my high school who did not personally know the sender.

Although the media helped to unite the “bounded culture” of New Yorkers, the media also helped to further differentiate and divide our different cultures. I believe that the media further separated Americans and Middle Easterners. The “dominant culture” or “mainstream culture” began to stereotype people from the Arab world, and many people believed that all Middle Easterners were terrorists. Muslim Americans were discriminated against in increasing numbers and Baran discusses the extreme violence towards Arab-Americans that followed the attack.

Stanley Baran explores culture in depth in “What is Culture?” He states that “Culture provides information that helps us make meaningful distinctions about right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, good and bad, attractive and unattractive, and so on.” (Baran 2) Al Qaeda can be viewed as its own culture that has clear distinct views about what is right and wrong. To the mainstream American, the events of September 11th, were clearly evil and immoral. However, Al Qaeda viewed the situation from a completely different perspective and different beliefs. On the contrary, they believe that the destruction of western culture is in accordance with their religious teachings.

The media definitely shaped this memorable experience for me. The media enabled me to see the events up close, instead of just hearing about what had happened. I would not have felt the intensity of the situation without having viewed the aftermath of the attack on television. Seeing the bodies as they fell from the top floors of the towers is something I will never forget.


Hanson, Ralph E. Mass Communication: Living In A Media World. Washington: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 2011.

S. Baran “What is Culture”

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