What exactly does being a media studies major entail?

As a media studies major, there are many areas to choose from to study. (Credit: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk)

As a media studies major, there are many areas to choose from to study. (Credit: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk)

When you tell people that you’re majoring in media studies you may get blank stares. Few people really understand new media, media production or any of the other subject areas that fall within the media studies major. Perhaps you are also confused. So when it comes to choosing good research paper topics for your media studies papers you may need a little help. Here are a few ideas and resources to get you started on your next research paper assignment.

Media studies research paper topics

Start your search at Questia where you’ll be able to access millions of full-text books, articles, newspapers, magazines, academic journals and encyclopedias.

Try these keywords for resources on media:

  • Media images of women
  • New media
  • Mass communication law
  • Film theory
  • Media mergers

Media studies can encompass such diverse subject areas as: psychology, film, television, Internet, radio, social media and new media. What area will you explore for your next paper?

Perhaps you want to discuss current topics related to the use of the Internet. The concept of net neutrality has been trending in the news lately and it could be a good topic for you. Be sure to check out the book, “An Open Internet for All: Free Speech and Network Neutrality,” by Dana D. Bagwell.

In this book, Bagwell, who is a mass media law researcher, has gathered data about the threat of network ownership to Internet openness.

Regarding the 2010 FCC regulations designed to protect the openness of the Internet, Bagwell said, “[…] the paradox of this situation is that little work exists exploring the possible First Amendment implications of such rules.”

The information that Bagwell presented in this book could make for some very lively debate about the need to regulate ownership and control of the Internet.

Media sources from the government

The Library of Congress website has tons of resources on several topic categories. What’s more, these resources not only include texts, you’ll also find audio podcasts, webcasts and photos that could round out your research papers and any presentations that you might have to make.

Some categories to explore include:

  • News & journalism
  • Arts & culture
  • Government, politics and law

Some government resources related to media studies aren’t as obvious. A case in point is the U.S. National Library of Medicine website, which houses research papers that could be useful to you. For example, “The Impact of Electronic Media Violence: Scientific Theory and Research,” by L. Rowell Huesmann.

In this paper, Huesmann reviews the evidence of a link between exposure to violence in television, movies, video games, cell phones, and the Internet to an increase in the risk of violent behavior.

Media studies blogs

Many universities that have media studies programs also have a related website and blog. For example, the blog for the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s media studies department, Antenna, covers current events and perspectives on such topics as: film, games, music, politics, radio, television and print.

In an April 11, 2014, post for Antenna, “Colbert’s Move to the Late Show,” Geoffrey Baym discussed the strategies, challenges and implications of political comic Stephen Colbert as replacement for night show host David Letterman.

“Not even Jon Stewart enjoys the kind of discursive freedom Colbert does. He’ll be far more exposed, though, when he transitions to network TV, leaving behind both the character and the snug confines of Comedy Central,” Baym said.

Other university-sponsored blogs related to media include UCLA’s Mediascape where graduate students are encouraged to interact with the larger theater, film and television community about media-related topics.

Teacher resources too

Another blog of note is the Media Studies Teachers Online Resource Centre where you can find links, articles and posts submitted by teachers from a multitude of sources.

One example is the February 25, 2014, post of a 2011 article from the Daily Mail Reporter, “Huge rise in intensely sexualised pictures of women…but not men.”

According to the article, “Images of women on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine were 89 per cent more likely to be sexualised and even ‘pornified’ in the 2000s than in the 1960s, the study by the University of Buffalo revealed.”

Explore the many topics related to media studies on Questia.

What is your favorite specialty within media studies? Tell us in the comments.

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