The First Person Account assignment invites the students in an undergraduate Mass Media & Society class to attend to the role of media in personal formation and societal impact in a unique way. Students are invited to capture a short oral history narrating the way that media has affected one person’s life.
Sociologist Phillip Davidson developed an idea called the Third Person Effect Hypothesis. The Third Person Effect suggests that humans tend to believe that others are more negatively affected by mass media than they are. I want students to think more graciously about the ways that media affects others, so they are required to collect an oral history from a narrator and then shape that oral history into a short documentary that sheds light on the the process of media’s effects upon a person.
I am also interested in students developing their own media literacy by enhancing their own media production experience. As students step into the role of media creator, their own awareness of the constructed-ness of media develops more nuance and sophistication.