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More than ‘just entertainment’

Photo by Mary Knox Merrill

The way women are portrayed in ads, how MTV edits the Jersey Shore, or the fact that all three American Idol judges drink Coca-Cola on the air is anything but accidental – according to students in Northeastern University’s Media and Communication Student Association (MASCA).

Three of the club’s (formerly known as the Communications Club) 15 members recently gave a media literacy presentation to ninth graders at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science in Roxbury.

“The Northeastern students dedicated time during a busy semester and pulled this presentation off in two months from beginning to end,” said the MASCA faculty advisor, Assistant Professor of Communications Studies, Heidi Kevoe-Feldman. “I was really impressed with their enthusiasm for service learning and desire to make contributions to the community.”

Using a Power Point presentation and examples the students could relate to, the undergrads explained how the inner workings of the media – such as ownership and product placement deals – directly affect the way information is presented in advertising and on TV.

“Think beyond media as ‘just entertainment’ and be mindful that at the end of the day, it’s a business,” explained junior communications major Robyn Smith, as she pointed to images of Lady Gaga, Lil’ Wayne and Britney Spears, each of whom are clients of the same product placement company.

“Our goal is for the students to realize that they have the power to control and understand what they consume,” she added.

MASCA meets bi-weekly throughout the year to prepare for two annual events – the media literacy project, which is presented to a local Boston elementary or high school, and a networking event, where a Boston-based non-profit is invited to meet, present, and network with students.

Kevoe-Feldman noted that, through greater media literacy, “young students can see how manipulative messages on TV and in advertisements influence and affect the decisions that they make every day.”

The club is comprised mostly of communication studies majors, but is open to all Northeastern students. However Kevoe-Feldman says that in the future, she will “take a much broader and more inclusive approach to create networking events and projects that will appeal to students from a variety of disciplines in the College of Arts, Media and Design and across the University.”

For more information about joining MASCA, contact Chrissy Barrows, vice president and public relations chair, at barrows.c@husky.neu.edu.