The media has a great responsibility in educating the public on what is the social cultural scene in his country is really like. But in reality, the reporters resort to taking up stereotypical point of view, because most of them work for great conglomerates and are under pressure to write positively about the rich and sparingly and negatively about disadvantaged, such as the poor and the blacks. Rather than shifting the blame on poor public taste, the media should use its ability to reach out to the people in a responsible way.
Kendall, in her book title, "Framing Class, Vicarious Living and Conspicuous Consumption." throws light on how media tries to cover up the existence of class differences. The super rich are presented as normal people. Television and newspaper are obsessed with celebrities and their lives. They constantly show details of their lives and make us feel that we are close to them. Their lives are glorified as happy and meaningful, while people from the other classes are usually just faces in the crowd, implying that their lives are not worthy of commentary. The sad truth is that the readers and viewers lap it up as real.
Kendall points out that the lives of celebrities are described as successful; just because they have many assistants, irrespective of how productive, or useful they are. Becoming rich is an ideal that all should aspire to and your life cannot be meaningful if you don’t enjoy luxury such as traveling by yacht and riding a limousine. Just as the rich are portrayed glamorously, the poor are shown as pathetic. The media does not show why the poor were unable to overcome their problems and all the homeless are clubbed together as good for nothing. It is assumed in many shows that the rich dress better and carry themselves stylishly. Manys shows depict the poor getting a rich look by dressing better in televised makeovers. No sensible person would find this portrayal to his taste and the argument that the media is doing this to cater to public taste is therefore not valid.
Above all, television shows target consumers by exposing them again and again to certain products. Statistics show that many more Americans live below the poverty line this year than in the previous years. This is because of consumeristic tendencies.
Of late people are growing more aware of media’s class portrayal as false. Yet critics feel that American thinking about class will always be distorted by media, which is owned by super rich conglomerates.News is shallow only because that is what the public wants is not an acceptable argument. Its not true that journalists don’t go deep because people don’t want to hear it. It’s because they are part of a huge system. There are a few journalists who write about their point of view and try to frame a story that would empower the community with knowledge and not just load them with facts.
Also, journalists should not put words into the mouths of people they interview. Asking open ended questions would enable real views to be published. This is manipulative and one more way of influencing people to think in a particular way. Instead, they must make an effort to mingle with the people at places where gather to exchange views such as community centres and churches. As marketing the magazines and strategies for selling have become more important, the reporter may find it difficult to decide totally about the content. Yet it is his responsibility to do so.
Cheryl E.Harris and Dewon W.Carbado speak about one occasion that took away the journalist’s prerogative to frame a story : that of the natural disaster Katrina, during which time blacks were the most affected and died in huge numbers. In their article titled, "Loot and Find: Fact or Frame?" explain how Live coverages showed the true picture of the race divide. Upon viewing innumerale pictures showing a large number of black people being affected, many a question was raised in the minds of the viewers. Many wondered if racial equality was a reality, if the blacks were still vulnerable or if they have failed to use the opportunities handed to them as a disadvantaged group. Blacks viewed the resultant deaths as signs of racism, while whites looked at it as the failure of bureaucracy. The article starts with the analysis of the captions under two pictures and the usage of the word looting in the one which a black man is present. This perhaps shows how black people are associated with looting in stories. Though the images did not need captions a stereo type was reinforced. Stories of events that happened in the aftermath show how the white people still perceive the blacks as dangerous and undeserving. Rape stories were ignored and most of them were not reported. Black women were not described as innocent victims and black rescuers were described as thugs. Two things are mentioned by the authors.The reports were racist and the readers did not think they were unfair descriptions. This just shows that if the media reported things as they were, people would get a clearer picture of the real situation.
Manji , in her speech on "Racism in the Media."expresses her belief that everyone has an agenda and when a reporter interviews someone, he should be conscious of what the speaker’s agenda is. Every story has a point of view. Manji challenges her fellow journalists to be observant of racial issues in the stories . Reporters should “monitor and combat racism”, She gives the example of a documentary on multi culturalism in which one of the interviewed commented on the behaviour of a Chinese parent. Here Manji wonders why the reporter did not ask if the Chinese parent had a reason to form a separate club. She also could have probed further when a comment on multiculturalism is made by a writer, a well known face. This writer’s comment shows that he is insensitive to multiculturalism and refuses to acknowledge it. The reporter she feels should be objective and not agree with what everyone says. This attitude can be developed and the media should be more responsible.
She also feels that spite of their being diversity in the staff of her newsroom, their writing did not reflect that diversity, as they were keen on not appearing anti establishment. Another reason for the lack of analysis of the mutiple dimenstions of issues is that news is usually done in a hurry. Journalism should be painstakingly done, right from the point when the reporter is hired to the time the news reaches the editor’s table
Susan Bordo in her artcle titled, "Empire of Images in our world of Bodies” speaks about how different types of media promote the attainment of the ideal womanly size, which is size zero. Advertisements and hour length shows sell plastic surgery as harmless, while they can be outright risky. The new generation is torn between its awareness that the ideal figure is not everything and they are still affected by the images and comments on body shapes flooding the media. Radio and television shows also instill stereotypical feminine images in which comfortable dressing takes second place. Although athletes are good role models, many other public figures starve and undergo plastic surgery, forcing women to consider their natural figures as ugly.
Media can do great service, and yet it chooses to market its ware using predictable and sometimes misleading story frames. Good journalists should work on overcoming these short comings and put the opportunity they have to good use. In conclusion, the media cannot blame the system or the public for its mediocre presentations, but should overcome any hurdle that may prevent it from painting true pictures from reality, and educate the public about the different attitudes instead of confusing them.
- Bordo, Susan “The Empire of Images in Our World of Bodies.” They say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writiing. Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkstein, eds. NewYork: W.W.Norton , 2006. 149-61.
- Cheryl I. Harris and Devon W. Carbado, “ Loot or find : fact or frame?” After the storm : Black intellectuals explore the meaning of Hurricane Katrina, New York : New Press : Distributed by W. W. Norton & Co., 2006.
- Manji, I. (1995). “Racism in the Media.” Text of a speech presented at “Racism in the Media: A Conference Sponsored by the Community Reference Group on Ethno-Racial and Aboriginal Access to Metro Toronto Services,” October 1995
- Kendall, Diana. "Framing Class, Vicarious Living and Conspicuous Consumption." Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc, Maryland: July 2005