Minorities in the Media

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Running Head: MINORITIES IN THE MEDIA

Minorities in the Media:
Have We Dropped the Ball Ethically?
Seth W. Horning
Dr. Jay Martinson
December 6, 2000

Minorities in the Media:
Have We Dropped the Ball Ethically?
This is a time when civil rights are beginning to be taken for granted by many minorities and used as an excuse for inaction by the white majority. This taken with the onslaught of the information age begins to create a problem unique to this period in history. Any other period of history shows a distinct ruling class, which has no problem with authority over the rest of the population. The present represents more equality, but it still lacks complete equality. This is especially evident in the mass media.

Just the fact that the terms "majority" and "minority" are still used show that the problem of inequality still exist. In today's terminology, majority doesn't even necessarily mean majority. The white population is considered the majority even though this is hardly so. As a matter of fact, many believe that within the next few years, the white population will be the minority. But as Ishmael Reed (2000) writes, "there is no such thing as white culture. Whiteness … is nothing but a reflection of privilege, and exists for no reason other than to defend it." Majority here means the same thing. One does not have to be the majority to have the power.

One might assume that African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and others actually are the minorities in American Society if the only source of information is the mass media. On prime-time television, less than one percent of the major roles are Hispanic. The percentage of Asian and Indian Americans is even smaller (). African Americans represent just under their actual population percentage, but very few of those same people are put in roles of power.

The mass media including advertising, television, radio, newspaper, and the Internet is balanced unfairly to the advantage of the white "majority." This situation creates an unethical gap in power in favor of the whites. This is seen in the amount of research done concerning minorities, how minorities are involved in each of the mass mediums, and the number of powerful positions minorities occupy within mass media. By exploring these areas, the disparity between the mass media's portrayal of minorities and reality will be found to be huge, and this disparity is unethical.

Bush, Smith, and Martin found that minorities (specifically African-Americans) spend more than $270 billion a year on consumer goods (1999). Even with all of that money at stake, little research has been done to find out what minorities like, how they buy, and even what effects them. This tremendous potential remains untapped (1999). One would think that given the buying power of minorities, there would be much research done on their buying habits. But the concern of the white majority rarely falls on in that area. Research has been done on minorities concerning media, but it has been focused on the attitudes toward advertising. The large percentage of the population that minorities represents is far greater than the amount of research done by the mass media in comparison with their white counterparts. This only goes to show that focus on the white "majority" is without logical base and unethical.

While there has been little research about what minorities prefer and are attracted to in mass media, there has been more research on buying trends and mean salaries of households and the like to help advertisers direct their business specifically to minorities. Bush, Smith, and Martin found that minorities watch more television, respond more favorably to mass media, and use mass media for guidance (1999). One study showed that minorities watch up to five hours a week more television than Caucasians (1999).

One would think that the mass media, having that much influence and...
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