Media Awareness Day at Niagara University
On March 10, the communications department at Niagara University will hold Media Awareness Day. This event is meant to educate the students and staff on campus about the messages received from the media every day.
"The purpose of Media Awareness Day is to introduce people to why they should pay more attention to the media messages that are too often disregarded or ignored," said NU communications professor Dr. Kalen Churcher. "For example, we're all exposed to advertising messages, on television, in magazines, and even on the sides of the road. But what are those advertisers really trying to sell us?"
Churcher is a director of Media Awareness Day, and says the best part of it is that, "Media Awareness Day provides members of the campus and local communities with an opportunity to learn more about the messages of mass media. We live in such a media-saturated world, yet we often do not realize how much of an impact media have on our daily lives."
Another purpose of Media Awareness Day is for students in the communications department to showcase their talents in making public service announcements by creating informational posters. Students in Churcher's and Dr. Doug Tewksbury's media literacy classes will be making posters. On the day of the event, they will be placed in the lobby of Dunleavy Hall.
"Media Awareness Day is a fairly progressive idea that isn't found at most universities. It's a testament to the students, faculty and administration of Niagara University that we've had such great support for such an important day," Tewksbury said. "Projects like this one don't happen on their own. It's the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated people."
Sam Goodwin, a student in Tewksbury's class, says "I think the projects we are doing can help others learn about media. We can focus on one particular topic, and really teach how it works and how it affects us."
Goodwin says his project's topic is about how movies use merchandising to make more profit beyond ticket sales alone. "We are focusing on ‘The Lion King' and how Disney has made a great deal of money off ‘Lion King' shirts, sheets, mugs, etc. I think this is something that everyone should be aware of."
The communication studies department plans Media Awareness Day with support from the dean of the college of Art and Sciences, Dr. Nancy McGlen. They have also planned a lecture by Dr. Nina Huntemann, who is a professor of communication studies at Suffolk University in Boston. Huntemann's research focuses on new media technologies, especially video games. She will be speaking to the university community about violence, racism and sexism in video games.
Huntemann directed an educational video called "Game Over: Gender, Race and Violence in Video Games," which she is currently updating. She will show what she has so far of the new video to NU at the lecture, which will be held in Dunleavy Hall Room 127 at 5:30 p.m.
Along with speaking to the community, Huntemann will also speak to high school students who are interested in becoming communications majors.
"The communication studies department will be hosting several dozen local high school students who will tour the campus, WNIA radio, and the university's new television studio. They'll also join Dr. Doug Tewksbury's media literacy class for a private lecture by Dr. Huntemann," Churcher said.