"CRITICAL FOCUS: A Forum on Media Today" is a series of six one-hour TV programs investigating how representations in the media affect culture, politics, and behavior. Each episode features a diverse panel of experts from academia, journalism, the broadcast industry, and social action agencies assessing the impact of media on our society.

The purpose of this series is to engage viewers in thinking critically about the information and imagery they encounter in the mass media. Mass media imagery, produced by corporations for profit, is ubiquitous. The messages portrayed on billboards, in magazines, TV, the movies, and newspapers shape our ideas of beauty, fairness, gender roles, personal security, financial expectations, and more. An understanding of the media is vital to American society and democracy because of the media’s power to persuade and distract, to manufacture desire and acceptance. Only educated citizens can make independent and thoughtful decisions about what they purchase, how they vote, what they believe, and how they lead their lives.

CRITICAL FOCUS: A Forum on Media Today is an exciting new collaboration between two neighboring community TV stations with long and distinguished records of innovative programming and effective community service. In addition to the dozens of awards each station has won over the years, Cambridge Community Television has received the nation’s highest award for public access TV stations, the Overall Excellence Award in Public Access Programming from the Alliance for Community Media, a total of six times in its 17-year history. Somerville Community Access Television has received this award three times in its history.