The Media Diary assignment requires that you keep a diary of and reflect on your daily media use for a total of
3 days (they do not have to be consecutive days), then write a paper about the experience. After the first two
days of tracking your media usage, count up the time spent on each media activity to determine which one you
use the most. For the third day, you will still keep a log, but you will give up the media activity that you use the
most (MP3 player, PSP, computer, Radio, Web browsing, Skype, TV, Video Game, cell phone, DVDs, etc.).
This assignment is designed to make you aware of the extent to which all types of electronic
media are woven into your daily routine. Specifically, the assignment should (a)
enhance your awareness of the uses, functions, and gratifications of media technology,
and (b) serve as a vehicle for self-discovery whereby you closely examine taken-forgranted
aspects of your personal media technology dependency. This assignment has
* Phase 1: Dear Diary. You must take notes for 3 days on how much TV you watch,
radio and music (CDs, etc.) you listen to, movies you watch, video games you play,
and how much computer use, texting, IMing and web browsing you do; in short, what is
your hour-to-hour media technology use? (you can estimate daily texting, etc)
For each day, your diary should record these aspects of your media use:
(1) Describe the media activity (2) Why – what were you using it for? (3) For how long? (sample on back)
* Phase 2: Give it up. You cannot enjoy your preferred media activity for one whole day! If you normally
watch television, try listening to the radio, surfing the Web, or reading print instead. On this day, you are to record
in your diary the same information as the first 2 days (everything but the activity you gave up) and note if
your other media use and social life are affected by giving it up.
* Phase 3: Write a short paper. The paper, 3 pages, double-spaced, should be a thoughtful analysis of the
uses and gratifications received from media technologies in your daily life. Address the topics listed below in
a reflective manner. The concept of media “uses and gratifications” has been discussed in class. The back of
this handout includes common uses and gratifications of media. In this phase, you will determine which ones
apply to your media use.
Paper Topics: (1) provide an overview of your media technology use – which medium is your most preferred?
(2) what do you do with media? (ie: listen to music, web sites, programs, shows, etc).; (3) describe how
your preferred medium fits into your overall media use by referring to your diary; (4) address the conditions in
which you normally use this medium (alone, with a friend, in a group, home, school, work, etc., and at what
times of day or night); (5) explain what uses and gratifications you derive from media technology in general and
your preferred medium in particular (see back – does it fulfill any needs)? (6) discuss other types of media you
replaced your favorite medium with, if any; and, (7) address how difficult it was to give up your favorite media
activity for a day. Was it harder than you thought it would be? Did the particular days you gave it up matter in
any special way? Did not using your favorite medium affect your interpersonal relationships with others? If so,
how and why–was it because you felt bored, anxious, out of touch, or something else?
For reference, here are some specific Uses and Gratifications of media.
Which ones apply to you?
To relax Escaping from problems and worries
To be entertained Entering into an imaginary world
To forget about work or other things Diversion or passing the time
To have something to do with friends Identifying/empathizing with others
To pass the time, especially when bored Reducing personal insecurity
To feel excited Emotional release
To feel less lonely Substitution for social contact
To get someone to do something for me Getting information and advice
To communicate with others Feeling connected with others
To learn things about myself and others Resolving uncertainty
Gaining insight into your life
Finding support for your values
Sample Media Diary Entry:
Date: Day 1
Media Use Reason(s) Time
Had radio on Live 105 all morning as I got ready and did
laundry and other housework.
Get info on weather, news, traffic, and hear music
that gets me excited for the day.
(9am-12pm) – 3
Turned on CNN to check on national news for a few minutes.
Information 15 mins
Played Wii bowling. Relax, social activity with friend. 1 hour
Web browsing. sfgate, huffpo, craigslist, anon news, search for apartment, jobs, etc. 1 hour
Email – reading and writing email. communicate with friends and colleagues, work &
Steaming audio, Pandora Needed to get some work done, so wanted ambient
Mixed new CD for my car, best of Marilyn Manson needed mix for car/commute 45 mins
Learned about the Tor project, downloaded and tried Tor Information/education – Learning to browse
anonymously to protect self online
Watched TV: The Office, King of the Hill, Simpsons, Family
Guy, while I web browsed and wrote email.
Entertainment, relaxation, communication. DVR’d
stuff, muted breaks.
(7-10pm) – 3
Listened to Marilyn Manson until I fell asleep. relax, escape 1+ hour
After you record 2 days of media use, give up your favorite media activity, and record your activity for
that day too. Then you need to write your short paper. See the front for the Paper Topics list. Write
about each relevant item.
DUE: Upload to WebAccess
by Friday of Week 6