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WESTERN CULTURE AND SOCIETY: THE UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA (USA) -
REVIEW & REVISION
Introduction - The
United States of America, The Beginnings, The States, People
The Political System
- Presidents, Government Structure etc.
American Economy -
Currency, Economic History, Policies etc.
International Trade and Foreign Policy
Religion - Catholic,
Protestants, Religious Diversity, Cults, Sects etc.
American Education -
High School, College, University etc.
- Writers, Novels, Poets etc.
Festivals - Independence Day, Thanksgiving etc.
Social Movements of
the 1960's - Civil Rights, Anti-War, Women's Rights etc.
Problems - Racial Problems, Drugs etc.
Food and Drink -
American Sport -
Baseball, Baseball, American Football etc.
Transport - How to
Travel in America, Airplanes, Trains, Roads
American Music -
Jazz, Country, Rock etc.
American Movies -
History of the Movies, Hollywood etc.
American Media -
Television, Radio, Newspapers etc.
American Business -
Business Organisations, Stocks, Farming etc.
American Retailing -
Shopping in the USA
Scenic America -
Landscape and Buildings
American Society -
Housing, Weddings, Family Life
of states: 50, Population (Based on Census 2000
Total Resident Population 281,421,906
Males: 138,053,563 (49.1% of pop.)
Females: 143,368,343 (50.9% of pop.)
White: 211,460,626 (75.1% of pop.)
Black: 34,658,190 (12.3% of pop.)
Asian: 10,242,998 (3.6% of pop.)
American Indian and Alaska Native: 2,475,956 (0.9% of pop.)
Hispanic/Latino2: 35,305,818 (12.5% of pop.)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 398,835 (0.1% of pop.)
The American Flag:
The first official national flag, also known as the Stars and Stripes, or
Old Glory, was approved by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The
blue canton contained 13 stars, representing the original 13 colonies, but
the layout varied.
After Vermont and
Kentucky were admitted to the Union in 1791 and 1792, respectively, two more
stars and two more stripes were added in 1795. This 15-star, 15-stripe flag
was the “star-spangled banner” that inspired lawyer Francis Scott Key to
write the poem that later became the U.S. national anthem.
In 1818, after five more
states had gained admittance, Congress passed legislation fixing the number
of stripes at 13 and requiring that the number of stars equal the number of
states. The last new star, bringing the total to 50, was added on July 4,
1960, after Hawaii became a state.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE
UNITED STATES: When Christopher Columbus
travelled to America in 1492 there was a population of about 10-20 million,
mainly from Asia, Europe and Africa, these people were given the name
In 1497 an Italian
sailor, John Cabot, who was at the service of the English King, sailed to
the are now called Canada, the English King then claimed the North Americas,
were British settlements were established in the 17th century. There were 13
English colonies in what is now North America.
In 1775 the American War
of Independence began which divided up the colonies into independent states.
The War of Independence ended in 1781 when Britain recognised the
independence of the United States and the Peace Treaty of Paris was signed
THE UNITED STATES": The peace treaty of
1783 recognised the independence of the United States and established the
individual states. Once the states were established it was unclear about the
relationship between each of the states, therefore a constitution was
After the War of
Independence the United States was not one nation, each state had its own
government, with its own laws and policies. A plan was then drawn up called
the "Constitution of the United States." This proposed an elected
leader or president, it also proposed a central system for making laws and
court systems. The constitution did not have any reference to the freedoms
or basic rights of citizens, therefore in 1791 a "Bill of Rights"
was added to the constitution. The government which was formed was divided
up into three parts. The Executive, Legislative and Judical.
The Legislative branch is made up of elected representatives from each of
the states. It makes federal laws and taxes and is the only branch of
government which can declare war or put foreign treaties into effect. It
consists of a "Congress" which is made up of two houses:
The House of
Representatives: This is made up of lawmakers
who serve for 2 years. Each member represents their home district from their
state. The number of districts in a state depends on the population.
The Senate: This
is made up of lawmakers who serve for 6 years. Each state has two senators.
Every 2 years one third of the Senate are re-elected, therefore there are
always experienced senators working in government.
The main duty of
Congress is to make laws. A law begins with a proposal, called a
"Bill", it is then studied in committees, then amended in the
Senate or House chamber in which it was introduced. It is then voted upon,
if it passes it is then sent to another house where the same process takes
place. When both houses of Congress pass the Bill it is sent to the
president for signature, once signed it becomes law.
The chief executive of the United States is the president. Every four years
there is an election for the president and vice president. Under an
amendment to the Constitution in 1951, a president can only be elected for
two terms. The job of president allows the formulation of public policy,
allows a vito of bills, can appoint judges, has powers to issue regulations
and directives regarding the work of the federal governments departments and
the president is also the commander of the armed forces.
The head of the Judicial branch is the Supreme Court, which is the only
court created by the Constitution. Congress has established 11 federal
courts of appeal and 91 district federal courts. Federal judges are
appointed for life or voluntary retirement, and can only be removed from the
office through the process of impeachment and trial in the Congress.
THE BILL OF RIGHTS
(1791): This is made up of 10 short paragraphs
which guarantee freedom and individual rights to all Americans. In the Bill
of Rights, Americans have the right to freedom of religion, freedom of
speech and freedom of the press (media). They have the right to assemble in
public places, to protest government actions and demand changes. They have
the right to own weapons. The Bill of Rights also guarantees a quick trial
for any crimes.
The United States have two main political parties, the Democratic party and
the Republican party. The Democratic party was established before 1800 and
now uses the donkey as its symbol. The Republican party was formed in 1850
and uses the symbol of an elephant.
Monetary policy is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve System, an
independent U.S. government agency. "The Fed," as it is commonly
known, includes 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks and 25 Federal Reserve
Money takes many
different forms, in its most basic form, money consists of coins and paper
currency. Coins come in various denominations based on the value of a
dollar: the penny, which is worth one cent or one-hundredth of a dollar; the
nickel, five cents; the dime, 10 cents; the quarter, 25 cents; the half
dollar, 50 cents; and the dollar coin. Paper money comes in denominations of
$1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.
Government also provides
welfare and unemployment benefits to people who cannot support themselves,
either because they encounter problems in their personal lives or lose their
jobs as a result of economic upheaval; it pays much of the cost of medical
care for the aged and those who live in poverty; it regulates private
industry to limit air and water pollution; it provides low-cost loans to
people who suffer losses as a result of natural disasters.
Government's Role in the
Economy: Stabilization and Growth. The federal
government guides the overall pace of economic activity, attempting to
maintain steady growth, high levels of employment, and price stability. By
adjusting spending and tax rates (fiscal policy) or managing the money
supply and controlling the use of credit (monetary policy), it can slow down
or speed up the economy's rate of growth
Regulation and Control.
Regulation falls into two general categories. Economic regulation seeks,
either directly or indirectly, to control prices. Traditionally, the
government has sought to prevent monopolies such as electric utilities from
raising prices beyond the level that would ensure them reasonable profits.
Another form of economic regulation, antitrust law, seeks to strengthen
market forces so that direct regulation is unnecessary. The government --
and, sometimes, private parties -- have used antitrust law to prohibit
practices or mergers that would unduly limit competition.
Direct Services. Each
level of government provides many direct services. The federal government,
for example, is responsible for national defense, backs research that often
leads to the development of new products, conducts space exploration, and
runs numerous programs designed to help workers develop workplace skills and
find jobs. State governments, meanwhile, are responsible for the
construction and maintenance of most highways. State, county, or city
governments play the leading role in financing and operating public schools.
Local governments are primarily responsible for police and fire protection.
RELIGION IN AMERICA:
The United States is a country of many religions. The first words of the
Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution say: "Congress shall make no
law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof." Therefore, state does not establish, or endorse, or
favor a particular form of religion and citizens are free to practice the
religion they choose.
America supports over
2000 different religious denominations, and in which more than 60 percent of
the citizens can be found at least once a month in one of the almost 500,000
churches, temples and mosques.
Duration of school lasts 12 years, until around age 18 (depending on the age
at entry). Each of the school years is called a grade, so that 12th grade
corresponds to the 12th year, etc.
pre-school, and the first or second year of formal schooling are
collectively termed Early Childhood Education in the United States. Formal
primary education is called Elementary Education and ranges from first grade
through grade 4, 5, or 6, depending on state and district regulations. The
upper level of primary education is often organized separately into a unit
called Middle School, which begins at grade 4, 5, or 6 and ends at grade 6,
7, or 8. Likewise, the lower grades of secondary education (years 7, 8, or 9
depending on state and district regulations) are sometimes organized
separately into what is called Junior High School. Regular (including upper)
secondary education is called High School, beginning in grade 8, 9, or 10
and ending at grade 12, again depending on state and district regulations.
ends by law at age 16 in 30 states, at age 17 in 9 states, and at age 18 in
11 states plus the District of Columbia. Students may drop out of school if
they have reached the age set in their state's law for the end of compulsory
schooling, but dropouts are not considered to have completed school and no
certificate or award is issued at this stage. The U.S. dropout rate is just
over 11 percent of secondary-level students age 16 and older.
Two basic school leaving
certificates are awarded for completing school, the High School Diploma,
awarded to graduates of secondary school, and the GED (General Educational
Development) Certificate, awarded to adults who left school but then
complete a special supervised study and examination program. High School
Diplomas represent a variety of different curricula and standards.
No national education
system or national curriculum exists in the United States. The federal
government does not operate schools.
On legal holidays, businesses, schools and government offices close. The
only legal religious holiday is Christmas. Other religious holidays in
America are Easter, a Christian holiday and Yom Kippur and Hanukah which are
both Jewish holidays.
There are also many
holidays that have nothing to do with religion. Some holidays like Memorial
Day and Veterans Day are observed out of respect for those who died in
battle during various wars.
In the United States,
for the year 2002 there are 10 federal holidays set by law. Four are set by
date (New Year's Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, and Christmas Day).
The other six are set by a day of the week and month: Martin Luther King,
Jr.'s Birthday, Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus
Day, and Thanksgiving. All but the last are celebrated on Mondays to create
three-day weekends for federal employees.
Note: As well as
national holidays each state may also have their own holidays.
Background to the Social
Movements of the 1960's: At the beginning of
the 1960's black and white people were treated differently. There were laws
to say that they had to use different shops, services, transport, schools
etc. These laws were known as Segregation laws. Women were also treated in a
very different way to men.
On 1st February 1960, 4
freshmen from a black college in Greensboro, North Carolina, went to a store
and sat down for lunch. The waitress said she could not serve "people
like them" (See the picture). The students believed that the law which
kept black and white people separate when eating was wrong, so they would
not move. The police came, but the students continued to sit down, more
people came to join and the next day there were many people there. Each day
more black students joined and started a quiet "sit-in". This
began the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's.
During the first twelve
months of the 1960's over 50,000 people took part in demonstrations in
America, over 3,600 were jailed. But by the end of the 1960's food places
were open to people of all colours or nationalities.
In the summer of 1963
hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators went to Washington DC, where
Martin Luther King gave a famous speech "I have a dream...". He
was given the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1964.
Americans are a nation of immigrants. Their ancestors are from many
different parts of the world. Some came in search of a better life, whilst
others were sent to America as slaves. Because there are so many different
cultures and religions in America the result is sometimes conflict. There
have been many periods of violence due to racial discrimination. The main
violence is against the black American population.
segregation was ended in the 1960's there still exists a segregation in many
areas through choice, housing is especially segregated. Many black people
live in black only neighbourhoods, and do not mix with white Americans.
Black neighbourhoods are sometimes referred to as "Ghettos".
America is generally known as a rich country, however about 1 in every 10
Americans lives below the national poverty line. This means that they live
on incomes that the government considers too low to buy food, clothes,
shelter etc. Many different groups of society live in poverty, sometimes
young people, sometimes old people. Poverty leads to crime such as stealing
and also leads to the spread of disease. the distribution of money in
America is not equal - some people have great wealth, whilst others struggle
The main social problem in America is Crime. Violent crime rises every year,
with most people afraid to leave their homes in the dark, especially in big
cities. Many Americans own, and carry, guns for their own protection (this
is legal in America). The majority of crime is by young men, with many more
black men being arrested than white.
The problem of drug abuse grows every year. There is a strong link between
drugs and crime. Alcohol and drugs are responsible for many deaths on
American roads, with drivers who are drunk or taking drugs. The drug problem
began in the 1960's with "social drugs", but more recently has
grown into the use of strong drugs. The strong drug users also spread
disease through dirty needles, especially HIV / AIDS - a big problem in
America. the drug problem costs the government a lot of money - because of
crime, court cases, hospital treatment etc.
Many meals in America are arranged around popular television shows, people
like to eat in front of the TV, not always sitting at a table, they sit in a
chair or on a sofa. Cooking in the USA is not just hamburgers, pizza and
fast food. However the American fast food restaurant chains have been very
successful at introducing American style fast food around the world, now
people from many lands believe it is what we everyone eats all of the time
in the USA.
American foods were introduced by the early European immigrants but modified
to take advantage of the locally available ingredients. Fried chicken,
meatloaf, baked potato, corn, baked beans and apple pie would be considered
traditional American dishes. Regional Cooking varies from state to state and
is highly influenced by the types of ingredients locally available, as well
as the cultural background of the people that settled in the area. New
England cooking, native to the northeastern states; was heavily influenced
by the cuisine of the original English settlers. Southern cooking has
definite African influences. Cajun cooking, from the New Orleans area, is a
spicy mixture of Spanish, French and African styles. California cooking is
known for the use of fresh fruits and vegetables in interesting combinations
with Asian, Mexican and Spanish flavorings.
A typical American breakfast menu includes scrambled or fried eggs or an egg
omelet, juice, bacon or sausage, toast, biscuits, or bagels. An alternative
American breakfast could be cereal with milk, juice, and toast or pancakes
or waffles with syrup and butter, juice, and white milk. Drinks include
orange juice, milk, tea or coffee.
The lunch menu normally involves sandwiches (peanut butter and/or jelly,
cheese, bologna, turkey, ham), rolls, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, tacos,
chicken, salad, fruit (orange, banana, apple, tangerine), milk, soft drink,
tea or coffee.
The normal practice in
America is to eat the salad before the main course. A wonderful American
invention is the salad bar. In restaurants that have these salad bars the
waiter does not bring your salad. You go to the salad bar and help yourself,
usually to as much as you want. This is normally done after you have ordered
your meal; you eat the salad while the main course is being cooked.
Dinner is normally the largest meal of the day. It normally involves food
such as pizza, meat (steak, chicken, fish, pork, turkey) with potatoes and a
vegetable (corn, green beans, beans, carrots, spinach, peas, greens,
asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli), spaghetti with either tomato or meat
sauce, lasagna, tacos, and dessert (cake, cookies, pies, ice cream, and
candy). Dessert is served after the main meal - Triple Chocolate Cake,
All-American Apple Pie, Rum Carrot Cake, Sudden Death Brownie, Chocolate
Chip Cookie Sundae, Berries and Sorbet. turkey (pictured) is a traditional
food for Thanksgiving meals.
"Brunch" is a meal taken sometime in the late morning or
mid-afternoon. Fast Food is readily available almost everywhere in the USA
and is very inexpensive. Sandwiches are the most common and they come in
many varieties such as: Hamburgers, roast beef and chicken. Pizza is sold
everywhere. In addition, there are fast food restaurants serving fried
chicken, Mexican Tacos, Greek Gyros, Chinese dishes, Japanese sushi,
Bar-B-Que and many regional specialties. Many fast food restaurants offer
free refills on all drinks, and some offer "Giant sized" portions
for a small additional charge. You can get a fast food breakfast for about
$3 and lunch for less than $5.
Convenience Stores are
open from early morning to late night, sometimes even open "24 hours a
day". They usually sell groceries, snacks, pastries, cold drinks,
coffee, hot dogs, and sandwiches made to your order. They are very
inexpensive. You can usually get a light breakfast or lunch for just a few
Supermarkets sell many
things besides groceries. They sell hot soups by the cup or the pint. Spoons
and napkins are free. Make your own salad from a choice of several dozen
items and pay by the weight when you check out at the cashier. You can find
some real bargain meals "ready to eat" in a large supermarket. In
many cities, supermarkets are open "24 hours a day".
EXTRA FOOD INFORMATION:
Smoking is now banned in all elevators, public buildings, hospitals, busses,
trains and airplanes in the US. Restaurants have "smoking" and
"non-smoking" tables. Many families do not smoke and prefer that
guests do not smoke in their home. Before you light a cigarette, always ask
your host or companion if smoking would bother them.
The minimum drinking age
for alcohol is 21 in nearly every state. Laws prohibit anyone under 21 years
old from buying, owning or drinking any alcoholic beverage. Bars and
nightclubs will not permit anyone younger to enter even if parents accompany
them. Restaurants that serve alcohol will allow children to enter and eat
but will not serve them any alcoholic beverage.
SPORT IN AMERICA:
Sport plays a big part in American life. Although many people do not take
part in sport, they do watch sport either on television or at a sports
stadium. College students are normally required to take part in sports
events as part of their education. A report in 1996 showed that over 60% of
American adults do no regular sport, exercise or fitness.
Air Travel is the most practical and common method of covering the large
distances between areas in the USA. It is the fastest, the most convenient
and frequently the most economical means of transportation. Trains are not
as popular in the USA as they are in many other countries. They are an
acceptable choice only for short or medium distance travel in certain areas.
In many major cities, commuter trains provide good passenger service from
suburban communities to the downtown metropolitan centers. In many parts of
the US, train service may be infrequent or even non-existent.
Busses are an economical
option. Bus transportation is a great option for urban or suburban transit,
but bus service can be very limited in rural areas. The Greyhound Bus line
offers inter-city and transcontinental bus service. It can be an inexpensive
alternative to other forms of travel if you are willing to put up with the
discomfort of long rides with minimum comforts.
Cars are almost a
necessity. In many parts of the USA where public transportation is
inadequate or non-existent, a car is a practical necessity. In most large
cities, the major shopping centers and sports or entertainment facilities
are usually located in the suburban communities far from the metropolitan
center. Without a vehicle, sightseeing, shopping and touring can be very
Each of the 50 states
has its own set of traffic laws and regulations. Fortunately, most of the
laws are the same, but some states have slightly different rules.
The minimum age for
driving is 16 in most states but some states will not allow unrestricted
driving until 18. Some car rental agencies refuse to rent a car to any
person under 25 years of age. Some rental agencies in the US will not rent
to drivers over 71 years of age.
The History of American
Music: American popular music includes many
different forms, such as: Blues, Jazz, Country, Rock, R&B, RAP, and
Hip-Hop. When British pop music of the 1960's hit America, almost everyone
listened to music from "The Beatles", "Rolling Stones",
"Tom Jones" and many other British groups and individual
Rock and Roll grew from
Black Rhythm and Blues with Country and Western. Rock and Roll started out
being labeled as rebellious, primitive, black music. Some white artists like
"Buddy Holly" introduced Rock and Roll to the youth in the early
1950's, and their influence along with others began the first true
multi-racial and multi-cultural movement in America. It was legendary Elvis
Presley bursting on the scene in the middle 1950's that signaled that Rock
and Roll had began to become accepted as legitimate.
Rhythm and Blues (now
called R & B) can trace its roots from Jazz and old black Gospel music.
The narrative form (speech) and rich beat of R & B has led to modern RAP
and Hip-Hop. It is this music which form the basis of the rhythms of modern
American Popular Music. From New Orleans Jazz, to the Motown Sound, to Urban
Hip-Hop and Rap, black music forms the core of contemporary music in
America. There is hardly a Rocker anywhere who can't trace their music's
roots to the sound of black America.
The media explosion of
the 1950's and 1960's was fueled by Rock and Roll on Radio, Television, and
the movies. The beat of Rock and Roll became the dominant force of American
music, and the lines between the forms began to blend. Music forms are no
longer segregated by race today as the forms have merged across the lines of
culture in America. Today the effect of this mixing of music and culture can
be seen everywhere in the culture. Whitney Houston soulfully sings a song
written by Dolly Parton, Lionel Richey writes Country songs for Kenny
Rogers. Ray Charles has had some of his greatest hits from Country and
Western standards like "Your Cheatin' Heart". Marshall Mathers,
better known as Eminem, is a white Rap artist who crosses all lines.
The late 1990's and the
beginning of the new millennium have been dominated by the
"teen-queens" like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Mandy
Moore, as well as the "boy bands" such as NSYNC, Backstreet Boys,
and O-Town. While many of the old favorites like Aerosmith are still
popular, the sugar pop crowd rules.
Country music is
undoubtedly one of the most popular genres of music alive today. It was born
in the backwoods and hills of the rural South. Country music has played an
integral part in American society, especially in the South. Most major
cities have at least three country music stations. You can hardly walk a
step in Nashville without seeing something of significance to country music.
THE AMERICAN MOVIE
INDUSTRY: Ronald Reagan, was a famous actor in
the 1950's before becoming president in the 1980's.
By the early 1920s,
Hollywood had become the world's film capital. It produced virtually all
films show in the United States and received 80 percent of the revenue from
films shown abroad. During the '20s, Hollywood attracted many of Europe's
most talented actors and actresses. By the end of the decade, Hollywood
claimed to be the nation's fifth largest industry, attracting 83 cents out
of every dollar Americans spent on amusement.
During the 1920s, movie
attendance was very high. By the middle of the decade, 50 million people a
week went to the movies - the equivalent of half the nation's population.
The film industry
changed radically after World War II, and this change altered the style and
content of the films made in Hollywood. After experiencing boom years from
1939 to 1946, the film industry began a long period of decline. Within just
seven years, attendance and box receipts fell to half their 1946 levels.
Families with babies tended to listen to the radio rather than go to the
movies; college students placed studying before seeing the latest film; and
newlyweds purchasing homes, automobiles, appliances, and other commodities
had less money to spend on movies.
As the 1960s began, the
movie industry grew quickly.
By the early 1960s, an
estimated 80 percent of the film-going population was between the ages of 16
Many of the major
studios were acquired by large media and entertainment corporations, like
Sony, which purchased Columbia Pictures, Time Warner, and Rupert Murdoch,
whose holdings include HarperCollins publishers, the Fox television network,
and Twentieth Century Fox. At the same time that these large entertainment
conglomerates arose, many smaller independent producers like Lorimar and De
Hollywood Today has
increased the amount of family entertainment it offers, including
feature-length cartoons like Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast; family
comedies, like Honey I Shrunk the Kids; and positive portrayals of the
teaching profession, like Dead Poet's Society and Stand and Deliver.
From the 1950's to 1980's three privately owned television networks offered
free programs financed by commercials, they were NBC, CBS, and ABC -
controlling 90% of the TV market. Since the 1980's there has been an
increase in pay cable TV transmitted by satellite. By 1994, almost 60
percent of American households had subscribed to cable TV. Among the new
cable channels were several that show movies 24 hours a day, channels such
as MTV, which shows music videos, and many news and entertainment channels.
A fourth major commercial network, FOX, has expanded quickly, broadcasting
local and national shows.
There are over 300
public television stations across the United States, each of which is
independent and serves its community's interests. But the stations are
united by such national entities as the Public Broadcasting Service, PBS,
which supplies programming. American taxpayers provide partial funding for
Television shows are
divided up into different times of day: Daytime, Primetime and Weekends.
There are many American
Soap Operas - Many American soaps feature very attractive cast members,
unlike British soaps which feature characters which are more true to life.
The beginning of commercial radio broadcasts in 1920 brought a new source of
information and entertainment directly into American homes.
The expansion of FM
radio, which has better sound quality but a more limited signal range than
AM, led to a split in radio programming in the 1970s and 1980s. FM came to
dominate the music side of programming, while AM has shifted mainly to
all-news and talk formats.
Developed over the past
25 years, talk radio features a host, a celebrity or an expert on some
subject, and the opportunity for listeners to call in and ask questions or
express opinions on the air. The call-in format is now heard on nearly 1,000
of the 10,000 commercial radio stations in the United States.
Besides the 10,000
commercial radio stations, the United States has more than 1,400 public
radio stations. Most of these are run by universities and other public
institutions for educational purposes and are financed by public funds and
private donations. In 1991, more than 12 million Americans listened each
week to the 430 public radio stations affiliated with National Public Radio,
a nationwide, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.
NEWSPAPERS (THE PRESS):
Early in the 20th century, newspaper editors realized that the best way to
attract readers was to give them all sides of a story, without bias. This
standard of objective reporting is today one of American journalism's most
important traditions. Another dominant feature of early 20th-century
journalism was the creation of chains of newspapers operating under the same
ownership, today about 75 percent of all U.S. daily papers are owned by
The number of Sunday
papers rose from 497 in 1946 to 889 in 1994. The largest U.S. newspapers
have been losing circulation in recent years, a trend that can be attributed
to the increasing availability of news from television and other sources.
The top five daily
newspapers by circulation in 1995 were the Wall Street Journal (1,823,207),
USA Today (1,570,624), the New York Times (1,170,869), the Los Angeles Times
(1,053,498), and the Washington Post (840,232). The youngest of the top
five, USA Today, was launched as a national newspaper in 1982, after
exhaustive research by the Gannett chain. It relies on bold graphic design,
color photos, and brief articles to capture an audience of urban readers
interested in news "bites" rather than traditional, longer
New technology has made
USA Today possible and is enabling other newspapers to enlarge their
national and international audiences. USA Today is edited and composed in
Arlington, Virginia, then transmitted via satellite to 32 printing plants
around the country and two printing plants serving Europe and Asia. The
International Herald Tribune, owned jointly by the New York Times and the
Washington Post, is a global newspaper, printed via satellite in 11 cities
around the world and distributed in 164 countries.
In 1893, the first mass-circulation magazines were introduced, and in 1923,
Henry Luce launched "Time", the first weekly news magazine.
responded to a reduction in readers by trying to appeal more to carefully
defined audiences than to the public at large. Magazines are now available
on virtually any topic. TV Guide, Time, and Newsweek, for example, also
publish regional editions.
The number of
magazines published in the United States has risen, from 6,960 in 1970 to
11,000 in 1994. More than 50 magazines had a circulation of over one million
in 1994. The top two in circulation were both aimed at retired persons:
NRTS/AARP Bulletin (21,875,436) and Modern Maturity (21,716,727). Rounding
out the top five were Reader's Digest (15,126,664), TV Guide (14,037,062),
and National Geographic (9,283,079).
In 1993, Time became the
first magazine to offer an on-line edition that subscribers can call up on
their computers before it hits the newsstands.
The US has many National Parks who employ Park Rangers to look after the
land and animals.
The Southwest: The
American Southwest is made up of desert areas such as Nevada and many other
national parks. The area also includes volcanoes, the most famous being
Mount Saint Helens. The area also includes the Hoover Dam, a hydropower
The Northwest: Near the
Canadian border is Yellowstone National Park, named after the river which
flows through the area. It is the oldest of the national parks, dating from
1872. It is famous for the hot water springs and waterfalls.
The Rocky Mountains -
Colorado: The Rockies are famous mountains, running from the Canadian border
to the South, through Colorado. They attract many visitors who climb the
snow covered mountains.
Florida: The south east
area of the US, is the state of Florida which is warm all year, unlike the
north of America. Florida has many beaches and many tourist attractions such
as Disney World at Orlando. Florida also has the Everglades national park,
with many animals including alligators. South of Miami towards Cuba there
are a series of islands called the Florida Keys.
Urban Areas: Each city
in America has a unique atmosphere. Many areas are highly developed with
huge shopping malls, cinemas etc.
BUILDINGS: America is well known for the
skyscraper, the tall building which are all across the US. They were made
possible by new construction techniques and the invention of the elevator,
the first skyscraper went up in Chicago in 1884.
In 1960, over 70 percent of all American households were made up of a
working father, a homemaker mother, and their children. Today,
"traditional" families with a working husband, an unemployed wife,
and one or more children make up less than 15 percent of the nation's
households. As American families have changed, the image of the family in
the media has changed accordingly. Today's families vary from both parents
working to single mothers and their children and unmarried couples who live
in the same house.
In a decade, divorce
rates doubled. The rapid increase in the divorce rates contributed to a
dramatic increase in the number of single-parent households or what used to
be known as broken homes. The number of households consisting of a single
woman and her children has tripled since 1960.
As late as 1940, less
than 12 percent of white married women were in the work force; today the
figure is nearly 60 percent and over half of all mothers of pre-schoolers
work outside the home.
As wives have assumed a
larger role in their family's financial support, they have felt justified in
demanding that husbands perform more child care and housework. Today, over
two-thirds of all three-to-five year olds take part in a day care, nursery
school, or pre-kindergarten program, compared to a fifth in 1970.