I’ve learned a lot about London in the past three weeks we’ve spent here. I’ve learned that although it’s been a great experience, I don’t think that I could live in London because I just can’t be bothered running into people on the streets everyday and not having a car. Although, there are plenty of things about London that I’ll miss when I return home. It was so easy, and fairly dangerous to my budget, to be able to go to Oxford Street, and find huge shops of everywhere I’d ever want to shop in one place. Also the fact that the English have been so polite, and so nice, even when I’ve been the tourist lost on the streets of London. There is so much history in this city, and I think that coming from a country still very young, is extremely fascinating. All of my personal opinions aside, I’ve learned a lot about media, and media in big cities. Perhaps one of the aspects of media that I found to stick out to me the most in London is the avenue in which they use to advertise and produce media.
Throughout our whole trip, we’ve learned a lot about British television, and the BBC in particular. BBC television, the most prominent source for media in the UK, is funded by the government as a public service. This means they are able to show programs without commercials, and produce good work without having the pressures of drawing in advertisers and more viewers with reality TV shows. Although the UK does have some of these programs, this differs from the US. In the US our programs are all commercial, and broadcasters are always conscious of what show will bring in the most viewers. It also means that our news stations usually fall somewhere on the political spectrum of being more left or right, than being center in their news. Fox news, one of our biggest sources for news is owned by the conservative Rupert Murdoch, and it reflects in his programs. They will refuse to report some news, and emphasize other news in terms of their own interests. The BBC being a public service, doesn’t take any political stance, and always reports the truth in their news.
London was also able to use public transportation as a form of advertising. In the US, we don’t have as great forms of public transportation, other than the subway in New York. But in London they have the underground, which reaches far and wide, and is used by most Londoners. As well as the bus system. While in the underground, there were many pictures of screens as you went down the escalators. These advertisements would change often too. It’s a great place to advertise because most people are just standing on the stairs waiting to get down starring around anyways, and this gives them something to look at, and consider. The same idea goes when you reach underground platforms. There are often signs and posters along the walls that catch people’s eye while they wait for the next train to arrive. On most city buses, they make use of the exterior of the bus as a mobile billboard, so that people passing by over and over again see it. There is also lots of space for similar advertising in the train stations that go between London and the small cities outside of London, so there is potential for the media to reach outside of the big city. Advertisers aren’t necessarily given this same opportunity in the US, because our country is so large, and most of us prefer to drive in our own cars in our commutes to work and grocery shopping.
Walking in and out of Tube stations, and busy streets like Oxford Street you’ll also find people outside promoting newspapers, and handing them out for free. Reading the newspaper hasn’t quite turned into the same past time as it has in the US. Many people still rely on newspapers for their news, and they aim to keep this up. These men pass out the newspapers for free in order to maintain a strong readership and keep advertisers in their papers. In the US you usually would have to seek out a newspaper on your own, and even then, that can be hard to do now-a-days. I would argue that although London is a fashion and business hub of the world, they also have a culture that likes to keep to their old fashioned ways. Being that they still enjoy their afternoon tea, royal family, and reading the newspaper. This has helped them to form a more diverse market of media having not only TV as an avenue, but newspapers and radio as well.
I’ve enjoyed being able to learn more about media and how it differs from the US in the UK. It’s been an eye-opening experience. I think that studying abroad has helped me to see my home country in a new light, and understand what sets us apart from a country still very similar to ours. It’s interesting how much history has played a part in how media is produced. The US being a younger country, was still one of the first to take on commercial broadcasting, and this has helped our advertising industry grow tremendously, as well as our TV stations. Where those in the UK just reached over double digits in their TV channels not long ago. I hope that when I return to the US I am able to look even deeper into our media, because now I understand how many things we do differently. I do think that the US would benefit greatly from a broadcaster like the BBC, so that we are able to have some of the quality programming they value so much here. There is a lot changing, and the future of mass media will be always evolving. I have learned to have passion for what I do, and never lose my creative edge.