Our friends from the Norman Lear Center, one of the world’s leading think tanks and research institutions devoted exclusively to entertainment, is celebrating their 10th anniversary in style – with a list of ten good reasons why TV, the last remaining mass medium, is good for you: “We've heard the arguments: How TV is bad for us, how it's linked to violence, the obesity epidemic, the dumbing down of culture. At the Norman Lear Center we've made it our business to study entertainment -- televised and otherwise -- and believe that whatever its downsides, TV also has much to contribute to a healthy, connected and well-informed society.“
"10. TV Can Change Policy After an episode of ER was shown to Congressmembers, the Patient Navigator Act was passed. And an episode of Law & Order: SVU that shed light on pesticide testing prompted an official response from the EPA.
9. TV Can Keep You Company As humans, we crave connectedness. Studies have shown that those who suffer from loneliness find comfort in parasocial relationships with favored TV programs and TV characters.
8. TV Can Tap Into Our Better Selves Fonzie got a library card and requests for library cards increased over 500% nationwide. When Hollywood, Health & Society worked with the CBS show Numb3rs on an organ donation storyline, a study found that viewers of the episode were more likely to become registered organ donors.
7. TV Can Make Us Smarter Over the years, popular television has grown in complexity from simple narratives (Bonanza, anyone?) to multi-threaded storylines featuring 15 or more characters (Lost). In his book Everything Bad is Good for You, Steven Johnson argues that these complexities in plot, storyline and character have actually made us smarter.
6. TV Can Break Down Barriers Following the 1965 Watts Riots, then CBS broadcast journalist Joe Saltzman produced Black on Black, a primetime documentary about what it meant to be black in Los Angeles.
5. TV Can Motivate Us TV viewers are learning important civic lessons from government-themed dramas like 24 and Law & Order, according to a Lear Center study.
4. TV Can Bring People Together In today's fragmented media markets, shared televised experiences are few and far between. Televised events like the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the World Cup give us a rare opportunity to share a moment in time with the world.
3. TV Can Strengthen Democracy Seventy-two percent learn about elections and candidates from TV news. The Lear Center created The Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism in order to encourage broadcasters to do the job right.
2. TV Can Empower Entertainment-Education posits that what we watch can amuse as well as educate. When South Africa's soap opera Soul City featured a key character as a victim of domestic abuse, it spawned the grassroots "Pots & Pans Campaign." Soul City's creator received the 2009 Everett M. Rogers Award in 2009.
1. TV Can Save Lives For better or worse, viewers absorb what they see on TV, including health information. Studies indicate enormous potential for TV to serve as health educator. The Sentinel For Health Awards recognize achievements of TV storylines that inform, educate and motivate viewers to make choices for healthier and safer lives."
Tim Leberecht is the CMO of frog and the publisher of design mind.