The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Racism And The Media. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
Similarly, Muharrar (1998) had two findings, through a content analysis of a local TV station, that a) crime is violent and b) criminals are non-black. There are a few reasons for this, as explored by Dixon et al: Crime is first and foremost a staple ingredient of local news. Network news tends to emphasise political and international coverage, and this may reduce the number of perpetrators represented overall.
The overall theme of network news is politics and policy, not crime. As a result, when they do focus on crime it tends to be on non-violent and white-collar crime.
Their emphasis on whites in a variety of crime roles may be linked to attempt to increase ratings given the racial majority of white people in the US. Editors of network news may also use whites more often because this imagery is more comfortable and intriguing to the white audience.
Fictional vs. Reality-based TV shows A second interesting finding was from Tamborini et al (2000). It showed how African Americans are portrayed more negatively in reality-based police shows/televised news/newspapers than in fictional programmes about crime.
For example, reality-based shows are more likely to present African Americans as poorly-dressed, handcuffed, more physically threatening and nameless. 93% of robbery suspects featuring in a local newspaper were African American and more than 80% on local TV newscasts.
Whites are also mostly cast as officers in this genre. It is suggested that these programmes encourage racial hostility, formation of ethnic stereotypes and fear of African Americans. In contrast, fictional programmes depict whites as criminal suspects more often than minorities. African-Americans also represent 10% of all perpetrators on television.
The limitation of minorities in these roles on fictional programmes suggests that the favourable portrayal of Blacks in these minor roles does not pose a threat to the white man on television. Prior Research vs. Modern Research A few of the articles found disparities between prior research and their own research on the topic. For example, Sabo et al’s study (1995) on televised sporting events – previous research on the topic had shown that televised sport reinforced African American stereotypes as less intellectual, described them commonly in physical terms and generally portrayed them in a negative light, in comparison to white athletes.
However, their study discovered that a conscious effort was made by commentators to avoid prejudicial treatment of minority athletes and instead produce a balanced multi-cultural atmosphere. Commentators almost never mentioned race. They also found that Blacks were least likely to receive negative comments out of all nationalities. Overall, no significant differences were yielded in the number of positive evaluations by race and ethnicity.
Similarly, as Gilens (1996) argues, most studies examining the proportion of ethnic or minorities appearing in news coverage found that blacks were under-represented in all areas of news media. His study however, showed that US newsmagazines grossly over-represented African Americans as poor people. Overall, they made up 62% of poor people pictured in stories, over two times their true population of 29%. Another example is Bowen and Schmid (1997), who based their study of advertising in magazines.
Previous research showed that that the use of Asians and Hispanics was very small and in decline. However, there study discovered that (in one section based on 5 ads) Hispanics had more major roles than Black and Asian models in mixed-ethnic ads. TV advertisements vs. Magazine advertisements Differences could undoubtedly be identified between portrayal of minorities in TV advertisements and magazine advertisements. Mastro & Stern (2003) found in their study of TV commercials the use of models went in this order – white, then Black, Asian, Latino, Native American and finally other.
However, Bowen and Schmid’s (1997) similar study of magazine ads found the use of Asian and Hispanic extremely limited – Asians decreased from 2. 5% to 1. 8%, and Hispanics decreased from 1. 5% to 0. 6%. This decline in use of Asians highlights differences between the considerable use of Asian’s in TV commercials and the decline in their use in magazine advertisements. Also, Mastro & Stern found that Blacks were portrayed more diversely and at true rates to their population, indicating an incline in use of Blacks.
However, Bowen & Schmid found that although there has been an increase in the use of Blacks in magazine advertisements, it still tends to be stereotypical and depicting them as athletes, and blues/jazz musicians – thus showing that magazines tend to hinder their flexibility in roles, unlike television which appears to portray them more diversely. However the two articles did have a similar finding – Mastro & Stern found that blacks, whites and Latinos were usually seen in advertisements not at work and Asians were usually found at work.
Bowen & Schmid found that Blacks were usually represented in ads regarding finance/insurance, but more significantly, in ads for automobile and travel. Automobile and travel ads usually project images of driving, travelling or holidaying and this backs up the former argument that black people are not represented working in any advertisements, Also, despite infrequent use of Asians in magazine ads, Bowen & Schmid highlighted one ad in which an Asian model was working as an air hostess, again backing up the finding that Asians are represented at work in advertisements.
‘We must combat exclusion and work towards a media landscape that corresponds more to the multi-cultural and pluralistic realities in Europe’ (Ouaj, 2000). All writers and theorists offer similar solution processes to tackle the problem of racism in the media. A lot of emphasis was placed upon the importance of the relationship the media have with their audiences. Ferguson (2000) emphasises throughout his article that ‘deconstructing racism is not only the possibility if the media but also the responsibility of the media’s fluctuating and travelling audiences’.
He instructs media audiences to develop our abilities as analysts of media messages, develop our skills as active citizens in democracies, and combine a development of our understanding of media representations with a willingness to exercise our democratic and consumer rights. Husband (2000), on the other hand, sees it as primarily the responsibility of the media industry to take initiative and incorporate new media groups to represent minorities.
The essential element in any model of a ‘polyethnic’ media environment, he says, must be the presence of a wide range of autonomous minority ethnic media that are capable of adequately portraying the interests of ethnic minorities. On top of this, he suggests the ‘implementation of complementary media which actively aim to promote dialogue across certain boundaries’. Van Dijk (2000) emphasises the need for a conscious effort to promote high-quality, objective journalism.
He uses the example of the Inetrnational Federation of Journalists in Brussels, where they set up a commission composed of experts to monitor ethnocentrism, xenophobia and racist prejudices in the media. Journalists who distinguish themselves by excellent multicultural practices though reporting or programme-making receive a prize. Such procedures would indeed encourage good practices and standards of excellence among young journalists in particular. Racist and the mass media most of the time are intertwined phenomena (Oauj, 2000).
Minority figures have, for too long, been denied professional access to the industry. Whether the exclusion lies with the absence of on-screen minority characters, or if it lies behind the scenes in production and management, this is racism in its purist form. The industry is not only sacrificing its own integrity, but also sacrificing good opportunities to integrate high-qualified, intelligent journalists of ethnic descent into their production processes. Advertisers also must take initiative.
They must look beyond the young, white, middle-class audience and branch out to the vast amount of minorities who are just as capable as white people of purchasing consumer good and avail of consumer services. Taken altogether, the spending power of African Americans, Hispanics and Asians equals $395 billion. Surely, someone can see an opportunity to cash in on the tastes and spending capabilities of these large communities. ‘Minorities read mainstream magazines and buy mainstream products. It’s time they received mainstream treatment’.
(Bowen & Schmid, 1997) Responsibility must be taken and inroads must be made. Media professionals must learn to adopt and enact recognised professional standards of quality, fairness, balance and social responsibility. They must disregard ‘our style and standard’ that serves only to eliminate people outside their convention. Such fair standards and practices have become particularly important if the media are to play a positive role in the development of multi-cultural societies, who respect human rights of minorities.
This is the month that Ireland celebrated the EU Presidency, and the government have promised to welcome 10 new states to the EU by encouraging and promoting multi-culturalism, ethnicity and nationality throughout the nation. The media, one of the prominent cornerstones of our democracy, must also abide by this promise and learn to incorporate ethnic communities in our interests and experience’s and vice versa.