The Problems With American Media And How To Fix Them

The Problems With American Media And How To Fix Them

The media has many problems and I am going to fearlessly discuss them.
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The media is an abundantly powerful entity within the American democracy because the majority of Americans obtain their news from the media rather than from other people or other sources. Edward Murrow, the father of broadcast journalism once said, “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it's nothing but wires and lights in a box." I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Murrow’s ideology of the media. The media should be one of the most trusted entities in the United States of America because of its influence on our culture. However, this is not the case due to the history of media personnel earning the public’s distrust.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, the most trusted media outlets in the USA are the Economist weekly newspaper and the British Broadcasting Corporation (Mitchell et. al). This would not be a problem if these two media outlets were based in the USA, but unfortunately, they are not. They are both British-based media outlets. The fact that Americans are willing to trust media outlets that are not based in their own nation poses a problem that needs an immediate solution. There are three things that I believe cause American media outlets to be viewed as untrustworthy: the promotion of racial stereotypes, biased reporting and the presentation of wrongful or fabricated information.

In this day and age, racism is abundantly exposed and expressed in our society, more than in previous generations. This is evident in police brutality shooting young African Americans and the social media movement known as Black Lives Matter (also stylized as #BlackLivesMatter). However, the media has played a huge role in the racial stereotypes set against many ethnic groups in previous generations. An example of this is the ideology of good and evil. For many years, the media has relentlessly promoted the color “white” as pure and wholesome and the color “black” is associated with evil and immoral . The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the word white definitions like “free from moral impurity” and “not intended to cause harm” (Merriam-Webster) and the word black has definitions like “thoroughly sinister or evil," “very sad, gloomy, or calamitous” and “characterized by hostility or angry discontent” (Merriam-Webster). It is very evident that even in our dictionaries, we the people are not safe from the heavy reinforcement of racial stereotypes.

Other examples of the media’s promotion of racial stereotypes are our movies, commercial advertisements and television shows. Stephen Balkaran states that the “media have divided the working class and stereotyped young African-American males as gangsters or drug dealers. As a result of such treatment, the media have crushed youths' prospects for future employment and advancement...The media have devoted too much time and space to 'enumerating the wounded' and too little time to describing the background problems of African-Americans” (Balkaran). This is evident in movies and television shows such as The Wire, Menace II Society and Love and Hip Hop. All of these mediums of entertainment promote and reinforce most racial stereotypes against blacks in America. In the television drama The Wire, all of the main characters are African Americans portraying thugs, drug dealers and criminals. In the movie Menace II Society, black youth are portrayed as rebellious and immoral gang members. The reality show Love and Hip Hop shows an array of disturbing verbal and physical abuse in black relationships. Even though these shows are entertaining, they do no justice for the black communities because of the exploitation of racial stereotypes pitted against blacks.


These racial stereotypes are evident in our news outlets as well. In an interview with Donald Trump on The O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly showcases his belief in these racial stereotypes. During the interview, O’Reilly asks Trump how he would appeal to the black community, and Trump responds that he would do so by providing more jobs in America. O'Reilly proceeds to say, “But how are you going to get jobs for them? Many of them are ill-educated and have tattoos on their foreheads, and I hate to be generalized about it, but it's true. If you look at all the educational statistics, how are you going to get jobs for people who aren't qualified for jobs?” (Chotiner). As a journalist, this is unjust and inaccurate. Where are the statistics for these accusations? O'Reilly provides no actual sources for this information, so one could argue that he is reinforcing racial stereotypes placed upon blacks in America.

The media has a tendency to report stories with heavily biased intentions. The practice of biased reporting leads to both the erasure and criminalization of marginalized communities. In a 1964 speech, Malcolm X says “This is the press, an irresponsible press. It will make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing” (X). This quote still rings true in our generation’s media outlets. A news outlet that is known for expressing its biases is the Fox News Network. Media monitoring groups such as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and Media Matters for America, have argued that Fox News coverage contains editorializing that favors conservative values among news stories. In a study conducted over a 19-week period from January 2001 to May 2001 on the ratio of conservative guests compared to non-conservative guest on the show Special Report with Brit Hume. The study revealed that this ratio was 25:3, which is absolutely in the favor of conservative viewers (Rendall). The problem with Fox News being an openly right wing station is that they will not be trusted by Americans with different views because of the expected political biases that are continuously and vigorously expressed on the network.

Fox News has been involved in the slander of Barack Obama in 2007. On January 19, 2007, Fox News featured a segment highlighting a right-wing report that then Senator Barack Obama attended an Islamic “madrassa” school as a 6-year-old child. Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy pointed out that madrassas are “financed by Saudis” and “teach this Wahhabism which pretty much hates us,” (Thinkprogress.org). This is obviously a simultaneous attack on Obama and the Islamic faith, proposing that Obama is a terrorist because of his association with Islam and that people of the Islamic faith are all terrorists. These type of propagandic attacks are highly preposterous in terms of the aforementioned Murrow’s journalistic values.

Fox News also has a history with biased reporting relating to race. On November 29, 2006, during an interview on the political show Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity gets upset with James Myart, a civil rights lawyer who represented Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. McKinney was accused of hitting a U.S. Capitol police officer in 2006. Myart said, "Most police officers are good, honest, hard-working men and women. But there is a culture of police officers out there that represents a legalized gang" (Allen). Hannity attempts to interrupt Myart as soon as he says the word “but” because he knew that the idea of police injustice was eventually to be brought up. Rather than debate this important issue, Hannity made accusations of racism at Myart in an almost berserk manner because his views are different. Hannity calls Myart’s opinion of police injustice a “national disgrace” (Allen).

The reinforcement of racial stereotypes and biased reporting is accompanied by the presentation of wrongful or fabricated information. In regards to biased reporting, an analysis released by PunditFact revealed that over half the statements made by a Fox News or NBC/MSNBC host or guest were false (Sharockman). What’s more shocking is that about only 8-9% percent could be considered completely true (as seen below). This is alarming because these two news station are our leading stations and have an insurmountable influence on our culture and political views. As an American, viewing these statistics makes me believe that these news networks are unjust and bias.

FOX NEWS


NBC/MSNBC

In regards to racial stereotyping, in the article Race To Judgement: Stereotyping Media And Criminal Statistics, Robert Entman, professor of media & public affairs at George Washington University, highlighted a few of the subtle media trends recorded in various studies: “Blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to appear as lawbreakers in the news - particularly when the news is focusing on violent crime... [W]hites are overrepresented as victims of violence and as law-enforcers, while blacks are underrepresented in these sympathetic roles…” (Entman and Gross). Entman also states that “Messages continually associating people of color, especially blacks, with poverty and crime reinforce the updated form of racial prejudice known as symbolic racism, racial resentment, or racial animosity” (Entman and Gross).

An example of this is another incident involving the Fox News Network and Bill O’Reilly. On the December 4th edition of the O’Reilly Show, Bill O’Reilly offered his opinion on a silent Ferguson protest by Jared Cook, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and Tavon Austin, members of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, saying the players "believe that white police officers shoot black youths all the time" (Sanders). He continues to state, “In the past 50 years, the rate of black Americans killed by police has dropped 70 percent. In 2012, 123 African-Americans were shot dead by police. There are currently more than 43 million blacks living in the U.S.A. Same year, 326 whites were killed by police bullets. Those are the latest stats available" (Sanders). However, this statistic has proven to be false in a study released by ProPublica the day before the show aired. The study reveals that young African Americans are at a “21 times greater” risk of being shot and killed by police officers (Gabrielson, Grochowski Jones and Sagara). The study also states that “1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police” (Gabrielson, Grochowski Jones and Sagara). Therefore, Mr. O’Reilly’s statistics are either wrong or fabricated to fit he and the network’s views.

Solutions

In spite of these journalistic travesties committed by the American media, there are a few solutions to these problems that could earn the public’s trust. To eliminate racial stereotypes, the media must present more shows and movies that don’t feed into these stereotypes. There could be shows, like My Wife and Kids and Meet the Browns, which are about black middle-class families that don't succumb to drinking and smoking at early ages, street life, and gang activity. Media also have to report information involving criminals and victims fairly, whether they are black or white, without voicing their biases. To eliminate biased reporting, journalists, anchorman, anchorwoman, show hosts and their news stations must be neutral in their views in terms of race, politics, and culture. The media has to be fair and balanced, as Fox News suggests in its slogan. Finally, to eliminate the presentation of wrongful and fabricated information, media outlets should carry out unbiased research on their topics. Media outlets have to be adamant in the pursuit of truth. In order to do so, the information they find must be credible and accurate. As a society, we need to know what is happening in our world. This is impossible if the media continues to block the public from the truth of certain situations with racial stereotypes, biases, and fabricated information. The continuation of this would be a national disgrace to our democracy.

Cover Image Credit: Argument Marketing

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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What Does It Mean To 'Live Through History'?

We are all living through a historic moment in time.

vdurgin
vdurgin
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We are all living through a historic moment in time. Years from now our lives will appear in full sections of our children's textbooks, and our grandchildren will ask in awe about what it was like to live in this era.

At least, that's what nearly everyone seems to think.

But what, exactly, does that even mean? Hasn't every person ever alive technically "lived through history"? What makes us so different now?

I obviously don't know any definite answers to any of those questions. But maybe one answer lies in how much people don't know about history.

I don't think we are living in a time we as a global society have never seen before. Mankind has seen the rise of populism before. It has seen sweeping political unrest before.

America has seen quite a great deal in her history as well. She has seen xenophobia and racism plenty; she has seen populist presidents and resentment towards them plenty, too.

So what exactly is different? Really, not that much.

People often say we will all look back on this time and wonder how we lived through it. Some claim we are living through a truly monumental period of time in mankind's history. But I think we are simply aware of the fact that we are living, and that the present has consequences for the future.

Maybe that is really all it means to "live through history"; we know that we are living. We have all somehow become hyper-focused on the fact that we are alive, and the fact that people from the future will look at us as the past.

I think that means we have become too focused on ourselves and not focused enough on what is happening around us.

That's a problem.

The events, attitudes and turmoil that we are calling history are, for us at least, happening in real time. Everything we describe as history is still very much the present.

We need to stay focused on our present before we worry about what our children's textbooks will say about us. If we do nothing but wallow in our own misery, or confusion, or pride or anything else, we will accomplish nothing.

I think we could all stand to think a little less about ourselves as the future's past. Every generation, after all, is someone's history. We aren't any different.

vdurgin
vdurgin

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