The Media as a Social Problem

Good Essays
Topics: Sociology
Dan Thomas
11-21-01

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

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