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Racism In the Media.

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Introduction

´╗┐RACISM IN THE MEDIA Introduction Mainstream media across the world have been accused of 'virtually whitewashing' the airwaves. Many ethnic minority groups claim to experience hostility, marginalisation and discrimination regularly from many media institutions. There is an endless struggle for minorities to gain professional access to the media, as the monochromatic view of black people as scrounging immigrants, dysfunctional families, drug-dealing thugs and pimps fails to go away. Factors such as state-ownership, Trans-National Corporations and major advertisers have transformed the creative sphere of the media into a capitalistic, profit-obsessed empire, and view the role of the ethnic minority as a hindrance to ratings and the status quo themselves. Commercialism and capitalistic structures are taking over the media's promise to be creative and democratic. Racism in the media is not a process of name-calling or stone throwing, but it is a noticeable lack of ethnic minorities participating in the media and the way in which they are excluded from structures of the media. Many English speaking communities maintain their cultural control through mainstream media with a peculiar form of professional standards called 'our style our standard'. These keep out well qualified first generation ethnic migrant journalists and broadcasters from mainstream media. British and American media institutions, which broadcast into Asia, use Asian faces with American or British accents to present news programmes, which are produced by white journalists from a Western perspective. These 'token' programme presenters never rock the boat in terms of programme contents (Seneviratne, 2000). Media institutions reply in the usual, non-chalant fashion: "It's become a no-win proposition. Unless you're putting on an hour-long show about a black brain surgeon helping Third-World children, you're insulting the race". (Jackson, 2000) Prior research has shown that minority characters are under-represented and are portrayed by the media in a negative fashion. African Americans for example, have typically appeared in minor roles, in low status occupation, lacking high school qualifications and generally overweight. ...read more.

Middle

He states that virtually no European newspaper has minorities as editors or in other prominent positions. Also, minority organisations, leaders and spokespersons have less access to the media than their white counterparts. They are also less credibly quoted than the mainstreamers. The Dixon et al study (2003) showed the portrayal of race and crime of TV Network News. It found that overall, white people were more likely than African Americans to appear as perpetrators, officers or victims of crime. In summary it found that news focuses on whites in a variety of crime roles. This is staple of network news programming to focus on non-violent and white-collar crime (in comparison to local news). It also found that the composition of perpetrators was accurately represented on the news. The similarly themed article by Tamborini et al (2000) was more insightful and threw a different light on the matter. This study was divided up into portrayal of officers and portrayal of criminals. Out of all officers, 83% were White, 13% were Black and 4% were Latino. Regarding criminals, 82% were White, 11% Black and 7% Latinos. All three nationalities of officers were found very competent, equally neutral in honesty and equally high in knowledge. The majority of officers used no physical aggression (95%, 91%, 89%). Regarding criminals, there were also no significant findings by ethnicity. Overall the percentages of the use of physical aggressiveness were: 62% White, 56% Black and 50% Latino and use of verbal aggression were: 63% White 67% Black and 67% Latino. The study found that the representation of minorities with white people to be equal, and one would expect associated perceptions to be positive. However, although most images were positive, it is the relative scarcity of these images that impact on stereotype formation. "It's not racism, it's economics" Many of the articles expressed the economical and political factor as a principal reason for racism in the media. ...read more.

Conclusion

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. ...read more.

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