Essay on The Media As A social Problem

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The Media as a Social Problem

     The mass media plays a large role in modern society. Indeed, many have argued that people spend more time in “mass-mediated” interaction than in actual human interaction. The mass media, then, would seemingly be an excellent position to initiate social change, positively affect social problems, and help combat social ills that are considered normal patterns of behavior. Yet, the mass media has largely failed in addressing and helping to solve social problems. As seen through its presentation of the three major variables of race, class, and gender, the mass media has actually served to contribute to the social problems it covers, reinforcing them, and creating an inter-related cycle in which these problems continue.
     TV has become perhaps the primary vehicle that society receives its information and presents its values and expectations. One of the most important roles television plays is its presentation of news and information. What a station chooses to present as newsworthy can play a strong role in how people view their society and the world around them. Often, television news sources have followed a philosophy of “if it bleeds, it leads”, focusing on violence in urban environments. This violence occurs more frequently in black neighborhoods, resulting in what amounts to essentially as a steady, nightly stream of reports on violence in the inner-city by and among African-Americans. In this way, the television media plays a strong role in formulating racial problems as seen by the interactionist approach. With the constant display of these images two problems quickly emerge. First, the minority groups become subject to stereotypes as the images presented become fixed mental images and are exaggerated and applied to the group as a whole. Whites, according to this model, “learn” that minority groups are “less intelligent, more violent, or generally less human”. Additionally, the minority groups themselves can develop reactions that are turned inward and create a sense of hopelessness, despair, and self-doubt that can lead into even more sociological problems in the form of alcoholism, drug abuse, aggression, and crime. Thus, the images presented by television news help contribute to this vicious, self-reinforcing, cycle as the news t...

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...p the present time. Additionally, media can also be seen as operating in the manner it does because the system helps to keep rich, white, males- the primary owners and distributors of mass media- in a position of power. What both of these approaches suggest is that the mass media must be made more open to different perspectives and viewpoints in order to eliminate the social problems it contributes to. Modern society must strive to make all of its media outlets more similar to the genre of film, where powerful voices can emerge that challenge different viewpoints on society. When this is able to occur, the society around us will move closer to curing ills among the social variables that the current mass media in large part contributes to.
Mass media, primarily print and television news has acted to perpetuate the social problems it covers. The mass media must be considered to be a large part of the problem in areas of race, class, and gender. In order to combat this situation the mass media must follow some of its own leads in making itself more open to different perspectives as it has done in film, and also challenging traditional models of race and class as it has with gender.

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