Presentation on theme: "ACOM 221: MEDIA STUDIES 1B MEDIA, CULTURE AND SOCIETY PART ONE MEDIA AND THE SOCIAL WORLD Croteau and Hoynes, Chapter 1."— Presentation transcript:
ACOM 221: MEDIA STUDIES 1B MEDIA, CULTURE AND SOCIETY PART ONE MEDIA AND THE SOCIAL WORLD Croteau and Hoynes, Chapter 1
WHAT IS THE “MASS MEDIA”? The term “mass media” refers to print and electronic means of mass communication that carry messages to widespread audiences.
The communication media are the different technological processes that facilitate communication between (and are in the “middle” of) the sender of a message and the receiver of that message.
MEDIA AND THE SOCIAL WORLD Croteau and Hoynes, Chapter 1 Everyday we are bombarded with messages from mass media –television, radio, newspapers, and the internet. In fact, in modern society, most of our knowledge, understanding, and interpretations of the world are mediated through mass media. These media have profound cognitive, emotional, and interactional effects on individuals, institutions, and societies.
At the same time, individuals and institutions are instrumental in shaping the nature and character of the mass media. With the pervasiveness of the media, communication scholars have conducted numerous studies to examine the effects of media on audience and society.
Studies of mass media have demonstrated that the media can be quite influential in a number of ways, such as shaping public opinion, setting the agenda, cultivating salience, fostering learning and reinforcing the spiral of silence.
FUNCTIONALIST PERSPECTIVE OF THE MEDIA According to this perspective the mass media performs FOUR FUNCTIONS in society: 1.Surveillance of the environment: through the provision of news and information. 2.Correlation: correlating response to news and information (editorial function); The media coordinate and correlate information that is valuable to the culture.
3. Cultural transmission: The media are powerful agents of socialization. Through the media, cultural norms and values are communicated to the masses. 4. Entertainment: (diversion function). By providing entertainment, the media act as stress relievers for members of society, which keeps social conflicts to a minimum.
RISE OF MASS MEDIA Social Construction of Reality – While reality exists, media users negotiate the meaning of that reality – The same media product may mean very different things to different people – Example: A music video may elicit different responses from a 15-year old fan and a parent concerned about sexist stereotypes that may be present in the video
Printing technology began in the 15 th century – Invention of the printing press promoted literacy in Europe Early 17 th century – first newspapers in Europe 19 th century invention of telegraph and telephone allowed instantaneous communication over long distances
In the early 20 th century radio became the first broadcast media, followed by TV in the 1940s and 50s The development of broadcasting fundamentally altered life – communicators could cast their messages broadly to the masses in their homes
– The media experience became largely privatized and individualized even as people were becoming “massified” by mass mediated homogenized messages about beauty and even identity itself
RISE OF INTERNET AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES Recent technologies resulted in a move away from the mass broadcast audience toward smaller, more specialized niche populations – Narrowcasting The distinction between separate media forms is now blurred Increased interactivity between media users and contents
MEDIA AND SOCIETY The commercial mass media serve as a powerful socialization agent – It aims particularly at children and youth – It’s messages often contradict the parent – It normalizes a way of life based on privatization, individualism, capitalist materialism, hedonism, ageism, sexism, and status-conscious consumerism
– It introduces us to new and creative messages and perspectives – It asks people to accept the “normalcy” of constant rapid social change
MEDIA IN SOCIAL RELATIONS Media are bound up with the process of social relations – Media affect how we learn about our world and interact with each other Example: Our political system is now mass-mediated by a commercial media that charges hefty fees for political messages.
The result is a bias toward the political viewpoints of the rich and their well- financed politicians. Media products are connected to the ways we interact with others
STRUCTURAL CONSTRAINT AND HUMAN AGENCY STRUCTURE – Any recurring pattern of social behavior – Example: family structure – Structure limits human agency AGENCY – Intentional and undetermined human action – Example: children in the family – Structure limits agency, but agency can reproduce or change the structure
STRUCTURE AND AGENCY IN MEDIA Relationships Between Media & Other Institutions – Other social institutions set limits on the media Relationships Within the Media Industry – Internal workings of mass media – social roles and practices Relationships Between the Media and the Public – Media content affects public perceptions
PART TWO: PRODUCTION THE MEDIA INDUSTRY AND THE SOCIAL WORLD
THE ECONOMICS OF THE MEDIA INDUSTRY Croteau and Hoynes, Chapter 2 Media industries are in general profit-oriented. – Profit concerns dominate considerations about content and policy. – Like other capitalist institutions, the media always serves the private interest. – The capitalist media content and its policies - may or may not serve the larger public interest. Generally the capitalist media is very entertaining, but not very informative.
CHANGING PATTERNS OF MEDIA OWNERSHIP Ownership is an important issue. – Democratic societies require an informed citizenry, and we rely upon the media to help inform citizens about policies and platforms. – Whoever owns a specific media controls the content of that media. Owners are not all of one mind, so it is too simplistic to see Big Media as a conspiracy of like-minded powerful owners.
CONGLOMERATION AND INTEGRATION IN THE MEDIA Conglomeration: this is when media firms become involved in a variety of diverse business activities.
HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL INTEGRATION Vertical Integration: Cross-industry ownership, or the degree a to which a single firm owns its upstream suppliers and its downstream buyers. Here one firm engages in different aspects of the process, from production to distribution. Eg: a firm hires an artist, records them, distributes them on stations they own and features them in clubs they own. Horizontal Integration: Consolidation of many firms that handle the same part of a production process. When a firm buys out other firms doing the same thing, it is seeking horizontal integration. It seeks to increase its share of the market.
CONSEQUENCES OF CONGLOMERATION AND INTEGRATION 1. HOMOGENIZATION. – Today there are fewer and fewer locally owned radio and TV stations. – There has been an erosion of local culture as national chain-media emphasize non- local content. – Homogenization threatens cultural diversity.
THE HOMOGENIZATION HYPOTHESIS This thesis argues that concentration leads to a lack of diversity in content. Research reveals that, while generally true, it depends on the specific industry: – In the newspaper industry, increased concentration does not appear to change content very much. – This is because newspapers have been concentrated since the early 20 th century and they’ve standardized content: a front page, a sports page, a lifestyle page, etc, with editorializing relegated to a page or two.
2. HIGHER PROFITS FOR BIG MEDIA. – Stockholders benefit from conglomeration, but the public doesn’t. 3. HORIZONTAL INTEGRATION. – The loss of independence between films, TV, and music means the same artist we see in the movies may also show up on an album. Or visa versa. They will be cross- promoted, guaranteeing success even if they aren’t very good. Example: Britney Spears. – This also means “the look” matters. In the age of MTV, musical artists who don’t look good generally don’t get promoted.
4. VERTICAL INTEGRATION. When the same firm that produces a musical artist also distributes the artist, it virtually guarantees they will sell. Ex: Britney Spears. 5. A SHIFT TO THE RIGHT, IDEOLOGICALLY. While anti-establishment content is sometimes allowed – as long as it is profitable – Big Media prefers artists who are friendly to their agenda, and this agenda leans to the middle and right.
6. CORPORATE SELF-CENSORSHIP HAS INCREASED. News that challenges the legitimacy of capitalism or the policies of private corporations is more likely to be censored by corporate media. 7. WITH CONCENTRATION, THE PUBLIC GETS LOCKED OUT OF PARTICIPATION. – Today, freedom of the press is limited to those who can afford to own radio and TV stations – the millionaires and their corporations. – Media corporations routinely use the rhetoric of freedom at the same time that media oligopoly serves to reduce choices.
MEDIA CONTROL AND POLITICAL POWER Can the concentration of media undermine political system? Yes. Corporate Media routinely lobbies and “donates” funds to politicians in exchange for favorable treatment. Many politicians are afraid to be openly critical of Corporate Media policies because they have become dependant on their “donations” to get re- elected.
CORPORATE CENSORSHIP It is ironic that most discussion of censorship and free speech focuses on government censorship, not corporate censorship. – Most media censorship is corporate censorship. It is self-censorship. – Corporations are reluctant to publish news that reflects badly upon themselves. Corporations use Public Relations firms to “spin” the truth – a version of censorship.
PROFIT AND THE NEWS MEDIA Capitalist media focus on one specific goal: financial profit. – News divisions are typically not as profitable as Entertainment divisions. Therefore, under pressure to increase profits, news policies have shifted in recent years to increase corporate profits.
RECENT CHANGES IN CORPORATE NEWS Corporate news programs have found numerous ways to increase profits: 1. Less investigative reporting. 2. Use fewer news sources. 3. Decreased news staffs. 4. Make the news more entertaining. More emphasize on “if it bleeds, it leads.” 5. Focus on sensational or tabloid news stories
6. Include “soft” human interest stories that reassure audiences with their “happy endings.” Use upbeat styles. 7. Hire personalities rather than real journalists to deliver the news. Place emphasis on these news personalities as celebrities to worship. 8. Eliminate the news altogether and play re- runs of former hit shows.
ADVERTISING AND THE PRESS The press won their freedom from government and party control as they shifted to an advertising-driven press. – This view claimed they achieved economic independence, allowing them to become “watchdogs” or “the fourth estate.” e.g. The press should monitor the full range of state activity and fearlessly exposé abuses of official authority.
However, this argument obscures how advertising led to new forms of self-censorship. An advertiser-driven press is not a free press. It is beholden to the advertisers’ interests in order to sustain revenue. To the extent the working class press criticized capitalism, advertisers withdrew support and gave it to the more conservative press.
– Ultimately, the ad-driven press led to: the decline of the radical ideology press; the emergence of a press inclined toward non-ideological coverage, such as lifestyle pages; more “balanced” coverage of events in order not to offend paying consumers.
MARKET INFLUENCES ON JOURNALISM Advertising driven, mostly. Therefore, it is biased toward capitalist values. Most content is ads. – Radical ideology is almost totally censored. Prefers safe or soft content that is non- ideological over hard or controversial content. Hence lots of sports, leisure lifestyles, local news, tabloid, etc.
– Relegates politics and (controversial) editorializing to the back page(s). Tries to present relatively balanced coverage in order not to offend different constituencies.
ADVERTISING AND NEWS Advertising exerts pressure on the news media to: – Avoid upsetting the sponsors, who are typically major capitalist corporations. – Use safe stories that won’t rock the boat. – Present a world view consistent with that of the advertisers.
Utilize subtle reassurance messages that the status quo is just and orderly. Self-censorship – no direct criticism of capitalism is expected. The news beat is biased toward the powerful – especially capitalists – at the expense of balance.
POLITICAL INFLUENCE ON MEDIA Croteau and Hoynes, Chapter 3 The state is part of a system of news production The state is a key part of the process by which the very idea of ‘information’ is constructed. The state establishes the forms of communication that operate within its territorial borders and regulate the content of those systems
At one level, the state is responsible for creating the market value of knowledge. E.g. copyright laws construct a regime of rights around certain forms of knowledge or expression. The laws of libel can be viewed in a similar. The ostensible purpose of these laws is to mark out areas which are protected from journalistic intrusion.
COPYRIGHT AND LIBEL LAWS These laws like many other laws help to construct the resources with which the mass media deal. The state, in this sense, constitutes the raw material which the mass media the process. But the state does more than produce the crude oil of publication, it also help to create the refinery. All forms of mass communication exist within the framework of law, regulations and rights.
MEDIA REGULATION DEBATES Debates regarding media regulation reflect competing interests. The media industry promotes its interests through a well-organized and powerful political arm that—along with individual media corporations— finances political candidates and lobbies elected officials.
It is safe to assume that such efforts are aimed at promoting legislation in which the industry has an interest and at derailing efforts it deems threatening. Politicians courting favourable media coverage for re-election are likely to be highly conscious of legislation that can affect the media industry.
THE “PUBLIC INTEREST” AND THE REGULATION DEBATE Supporters of some deregulation generally assert that the “free-market” system is adequate for accommodating the needs of both media producers and media consumers.
They argue that consumers have the ultimate power to choose to tune into or buy media products and that there is no need for government interference in the form of media regulation. The marketplace serves as a quasi democratic forum in which consumers, not government agencies, get to decide the fate of media.
In contrast to the deregulation approach, support for media regulation is usually based on a desired outcome. The most common standard for assessing this outcome is the “public interest.”
WHAT IS THE “PUBLIC INTEREST”? Diversity: the range of views and experiences present in society Innovation and creativity in content and medium Substance: importance and depth of coverage Independence / decentralization
REGULATING MEDIA CONTENT AND DISTRIBUTION While the regulation of the ownership and control of media outlets, programming, and technology raises basic questions about the relationship between government and media, a different set of issues is raised with respect to the regulation of media content. However, the basic dynamic of structure and agency remains.
REGULATING FOR MORALITY According to Dole (1995), “One of the greatest threats to family values is the way our popular culture ridicules them. Our music, movies, television and advertising regularly push the limits of decency, bombarding our children with destructive messages of casual violence and even more casual sex.”
RATINGS AND WARNINGS One way content is regulated is by industry self-regulation, rather than formal government involvement. The rating and warning systems devised for different media fall into this category
OUTLAWING AND CONTROLLING DISTRIBUTION The suggestion that stores should not sell recordings with explicit lyrics to minors is an example of a more active approach to regulating the media industry for its moral content. It is an approach most often associated with obscene material. Obscene material is different from both pornography, or sexually arousing material, and indecent material, or material morally unfit for general distribution or broadcast.
Pornography and indecent material are legal, although the government may regulate their broadcast or distribution. The government outlaws only obscene material. (The major exception is that the government also outlaws sexually explicit materials involving children, regardless of whether it judges such material to be obscene.)
THE CASE OF PORNOGRAPHY Pornography is defined as display of explicit, sexual nudity or activity, where the display is the end in itself rather than a means to a different end. Some commentators argue that ‘pornography incites and causes sexual violence.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women has argued that ‘pornography and the depiction and commercial exploitation of women as sexual objects contribute to gender-based violence’.
In certain circumstances, there are grounds to believe that the production of pornography causes harm when the pornographic material depicts a criminal act. There is a very broad consensus that the main objective of the laws regulating pornography should aim at protecting members of public from nuisance of offensive material in places to which normal life happens to take them.
THE ISSUE OF VIOLENCE Violence in the media is another area of content regulation that has received a great deal of attention Violence on television is usually at the center of this debate because it is so accessible to children. An enormous amount of research studies has been done on the effects of media violence.
Some researchers contend that for some children, violent programming can lead to more violent behaviour (aggressor effect), increased fearfulness about violence (victim effect), or increased callousness about violence directed at others (bystander effect).
Although various studies showed different degrees of influence, there is “a positive and significant correlation between television violence and aggressive behaviour.” Producers of violent media products often argue that they are merely reflecting the violence that already exists in society.
However, polls repeatedly show that most people believe violence in the mass media contributes to violence in society. As a result, there has been fairly widespread popular support for the regulation of violent programming, especially on television.
REGULATING FOR ACCURACY: ADVERTISING Another area of content regulation worth noting is regulation that affects advertising. A number of different agencies regulate the advertising industry because of its broad and varied commercial dimensions, which encompass all forms of mass communication.
The collection of regulatory agencies addresses two basic concerns. First, the agencies protect the public against fraudulent or deceptive advertising. The second major area in which government regulations affect advertising involves ads featuring potentially dangerous products, especially when the ads are targeted at children and minors.
Thus, the government regulates advertising for products such as alcohol and tobacco. Cigarettes, for example, cannot be advertised on television.
REGULATING IN THE “NATIONAL INTEREST”: MEDIA AND THE MILITARY The relationship between the news media and the military has been an evolving one. The natural tension which exist between an institution which depends on the secrecy of plans and operations designed to protect the country from foreign enemies and another which is given special constitutional protection in order to be free to call attention
to tyranny and which endeavours to expose all manners of operations engaged in by any arm of government is most intense during times of conflict. The are uncontroversial example where press freedom causes a clear and present danger to national security.
Revelations about military secrets and counter-intelligence work could directly endanger lives and would be irrecoverable after disclosure. The right to freedom of expression/ press may, therefore, legitimately be limited to allow prior restraint on the ground of ‘national security’
CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEE OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN SOUTH AFRICA (SECTION 16) The law state that: Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes- (a) freedom of the press and other media; (b)freedom to receive or impart information or ideas; (c) freedom of artistic creativity; and (d) academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.
LIMITATION OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION The right in subsection (1) does not extend to- (a) propaganda for war; (b) incitement of imminent violence; or (c) advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.
MEDIA REPRESENTATION OF THE SOCIAL WORLD PART THREE: CONTENT
THE NEWS MEDIA AND JOURNALISTIC FIELD Croteau and Hoynes, Chapter 4 In this part we explore how professionals create media products, the ways in which media work is organized, the norms and practices of several media professions, the social and personal networks that media professionals cultivate, and the ways the organizational structure of media outlets shape the methods of media work.
THE LIMITS OF ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL CONSTRAINTS Economic and political forces can be powerful constraints. Media personnel actively respond to these constraints when making decisions, often limiting their impact.
WORKING WITHIN ECONOMIC CONSTRAINTS Economic forces identify the goals and shape the terrain of the decision-making process, but human actors must assess both program and audience in their effort to deliver the “correct” product. They adopt certain rules or conventions to smooth out and routinize the decision-making process.
RESPONDING TO POLITICAL CONSTRAINTS Political forces, particularly government regulations, also play a significant role in shaping the environment within which media organizations operate. Sometimes media organizations comply with government regulations, but sometimes the media preempt, ignore, reinterpret, or challenge regulations.
Compliance is the easiest strategy for media organizations because it avoids conflict with regulators, thereby enabling them to shape the actions of media organizations. A second strategy used by the media in dealing with government regulation is preemption. Media industries can preempt external regulation by engaging in a public form of self-regulation.
A third often-used strategy is rooted in the fact that government regulations are almost always subject to interpretation, giving media organizations the power to read regulations in ways that match their broader agendas. Fourth, media industries can simply ignore regulations. Passing laws is one thing, but enforcing regulations is another.
Finally, media organizations can challenge regulations to try to alter them or rescind them altogether. Media organizations can adopt legal strategies, challenging the constitutionality of specific regulations, or they can use political strategies, lobbying potentially supportive politicians and threatening opponents in an effort to win new legislation more to the liking of the industry.
THE ORGANIZATION OF MEDIA WORK In a classic study, sociologist Howard Becker (1982) observes that “producing art requires elaborate cooperation among specialized personnel”. Some researchers have argued that the behaviour of media personnel is shaped by the “needs” of an organization (Epstein 1973).
In other words, maintaining the existence of the organization points different individuals within that organization in the same direction.
NEWS ROUTINES AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES News is information about recent important events. The processes of news gathering and news reporting is rationalized because news organizations cannot start afresh each day. In other words, news organizations must be able to anticipate where news will happen— before it happens—and structure their reporters’ assignments accordingly.
Within news organizations, reporters follow routines that tell them where to look for news and how to gather it efficiently.
WHAT ARE THESE JOURNALISTIC ROUTINES? News outlets cannot report on all the things that happen; only some “happenings” are defined as important enough to be news. Tuchman (1978) adopts the metaphor of the “news net” to explain the standard practice for gathering news.
News organizations cast a ”net”— made up of wire services, full-time reporters, and stringers— to catch newsworthy happenings. The “net”, however, does not catch everything; like all nets, it is full of holes and catches only the “big fish.”
The netlike nature of news gathering serves as an initial filter, sorting out those happenings that do not meet the standard criteria for news. The organization of news gathering shows which criteria determine how the news net is constructed. Newspapers will have staff or bureaus in places they define as important.
News organizations also establish “beats” at prominent organizations where news can be expected to occur. In practice, this means that a series of official locations —police stations, court- houses, city halls, state houses, Parliament— become sites where reporters are stationed.
The news we get needs to be understood as the end result of these professional routines, which generally focus on the activities of legitimate, bureaucratic institutions. Finally, areas such as sports, business, and the arts are topical beats that are expected to produce news each day, so reporters establish relationships with key players in these areas to guarantee a regular supply of news.
THE ROLE OF NEWS WIRE SERVICES A news agency is a news organization designed to supply news reports to other media outlets that subscribe to its services. News agencies can be considered the backbone of modern journalism. They scout and produce the news that we read daily in newspapers and watch on television.
They are the fundamental source of reporting on national and international news for the large majority of local and regional media outlets, which largely reproduce or rebroadcast news agency products. As a result, news agencies have a significant impact on the selection of what constitutes relevant news.
But like all newsgathering organizations, news agencies themselves follow standardized news routines, and staff- recognized beats that ensure they produce sufficient material to supply to subscribing news outlets.
SELECTING FRONT-PAGE STORIES Selecting news for the front page is shaped by economic constraints and the organization of news gathering. Front-page assessments are not haphazard but are governed by norms that routinize potentially conflict-ridden daily decision.
One way to identify these norms is to list the specific criteria that make a story front-page material, such as timeliness, impact, geographic or social proximity, the prominence.
THE CONCEPT OF OBJECTIVITY The belief in objectivity is a faith in ‘facts,’ a distrust of ‘values,’ and a commitment to their segregation. Objectivity can be seen as a set of practices or conventions that the professional journalist is trained to follow.
WHAT PRACTICES MAKE UP THIS METHOD? (1)maintaining political neutrality; (2) observing prevailing standards of decency and good taste; (3) using documentary reporting practices, which rely on physical evidence; (4) using standardized formats to package the news; (5) training reporters as generalists instead of specialists; and (6) using editorial review to enforce these methods.
OBJECTIVITY AS ROUTINE PRACTICES News accounts have a tendency to look similar because all reporters follow the same basic routines. They talk to the same people, use the same formats, observe the same basic dos and don’ts, and watch one another closely to make sure that they are not out of step with the rest of the profession.
THE POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES OF OBJECTIVITY News-gathering structure includes certain happenings as news and excludes others. In particular, things that happen in and around established institutions, especially official agencies, are defined as news. Happenings outside of these boundaries are likely never to be detected by professional journalists.
News, therefore, is the product of a social process through which media personnel make decisions about what is newsworthy and what is not, about who is important and who is not, about what views are to be included and what views can be dismissed. None of these decisions can be entirely objective.
The ideal of objectivity—separating values from facts— is ultimately unobtainable. The reliance on “appropriate,” available, and preferably authoritative sources means journalists mostly talk to government and corporate officials and end up reproducing their view of the world. Thus, “objective” journalism, by highlighting the views and activities of officials, can be seen on balance to favour those in power.
MEDIA AND IDEOLOGY Croteau and Hoynes, Chapter 5: What Is Ideology? “Ideology,” means the belief systems that help justify the actions of those in power by distorting and misrepresenting reality. Ideology is related to concepts such as worldview, belief system, and values.
IDEOLOGY There are numerous ideologies used to explain and justify specific social relationships: sexism, feminism, racism, egalitarianism, capitalism, communism, individualism, collectivism, classism, etc. Ideologies are inherently political. They justify how power should be allocated and which groups, if any, deserve more power than others.
DOMINANT IDEOLOGY Within any society, some ideologies will be more widespread or dominant than others. The dominant ideologies are those that are most accepted and visible in mainstream society. Dominant ideology stems mainly from elites.
They have the most power to spread their world views and to censor alternative or competing ideologies. Dominant ideology tends to be taken for granted by members of society as the “normal” way to view people. Dominant ideology is rarely challenged. It tends to be accepted as Truth.
MEDIA AND DOMINANT IDEOLOGY Most corporate media producers argue that their images are merely reflections of our society, and that they are not purveyors of an ideology. This argument is inaccurate. By selecting some images and ideologies over others, they cannot help but promote specific world views at the expense of others. The media are at the center of modern culture wars over how various categories of people should be portrayed.
THEORETICAL ROOTS OF IDEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS The major strain of research within this critical perspective may be loosely termed a Marxist tradition, which regards society as rooted in conflict along class lines between dominant and subordinate groups. The major effect of the media is considered ideological.
The point of departure from the pluralist view is the following famous quote from Marx: “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: i.e., the class which is the ruling material force in society is at the same time its ruling intellectual force”.
The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. "The role of the media here is that of legitimation through the production of false consciousness, in the interests of the class which owns and controls the media"
NEWS MEDIA AND THE LIMITS OF DEBATE The news media produce ideological visions of the nation and the world. The news focuses on powerful people and institutions and generally reflects established interests. The news supports the social order of public, business and professional, upper-middle-class, middle-aged, and white male sectors of society.
The news pays most attention to and upholds the actions of elite individuals and elite institutions. With its focus on elites, news presents images of the world that are significantly lacking in diversity. The “insider” nature of political news means that a small group of analysts are regular commentators and news sources.
The “debates” we see in the news, therefore, are often between insiders who share a common commitment to traditional politics, to the exclusion of those outside the constructed consensus. The result is that contrasting perspectives in the news frequently represent the differences—generally quite narrow—between establishment insiders.
This approach to the news does little to inform the public of positions outside this limited range of opinion. More important, it implicitly denies that other positions should be taken seriously. Ultimately, one principal way the news is ideological is in drawing boundaries between what is acceptable—the conventional ideas of insiders—and what is not.
ECONOMIC NEWS AS IDEOLOGICAL CONSTRUCT The capitalist media rarely portray corporate takeovers and mergers as a “social problem.” Instead, they often let the corporate executives define the meaning of their own behavior.
– The executive will typically call it healthy progress, despite the fact that it is harmful to competition, consumers, and workers. Similarly a workers strike is often portrayed through the lens of the corporate executive more than the strikers. The striker is often branded a trouble maker.
MOVIES, THE MILITARY, AND MASCULINITY Two film genres, action-adventure and military/war films are worth exploring for their underlying ideological orientation because of their popularity. With action-adventure movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing the Stone and military movies such as Rambo and Top Gun attracting large audiences—and inspiring sequels and seemingly endless imitators—scholars have used an ideological framework to understand the underlying messages in these films.
ACTION-ADVENTURE FILMS These are stories about good and evil – heroes and villains. One underlying theme of the action- adventure genre is the drawing of rigid lines between “us” and “them,” with the villain representing the dangers of difference.
– The hero typically represents the forces of civility and goodness, while the bad guy represents uncivilized, debased society. Ultimately the hero kills or domesticates the bad guy, restoring security.
VIETNAM FILMS In essence, these films provide a mass- mediated refighting of the war, in which Americans are both the good guys and the victors. The films serve as a kind of redemption for a country unable to accept defeat in Vietnam and still struggling with the shame of loss. In these stories, there is no longer shame or defeat but instead pride, triumph, and a reaffirmation of national strength.
The masculine/military films of the time both reflected the fears and desires of American men and helped reproduce a new brand of toughness. The films were part of a political culture that created the conditions for the popular 1989 invasion of Panama and the even more popular 1991 war in the Persian Gulf.
TELEVISION, POPULARITY, AND IDEOLOGY TV is central to our mass mediated culture. TV mediates reality in seemingly realistic images, but they are not that realistic. – Because most TV seems real, the viewer routinely suspends disbelief. The ideological work of TV lies in the ways it defines normalcy. – Portrayals of sex, race, class, age, etc generally reinforce dominant ideologies
TV producers have adopted the strategy of “least objectionable programming.” – Programs are intended to avoid controversy and remain politically bland in order to please sponsors and gain the widest array of viewers. – The result has been an emphasis on stereotypes (i.e. simplistic generalizations about different categories of people).
– They tend to emerge from dominant groups to affirm dominant ideology. The dominant ideology reassures people that the system works. – They are not true, but are believed because they are taken for granted as “common knowledge.” – TV ideology is mostly determined by the strategy of using conventional images, dominant ideologies, and stereotypes as the backdrop to most programs.
-Television ideology is mostly determined by the strategy of using conventional images, dominant ideologies, and stereotypes as the backdrop to most programs. – Hence, television “normalcy” is disproportionately White, Male, Upper middle class (affluent), Relatively young, Trim and fit, Eurocentric definition of beauty
This approach is, itself, ideological; blandness favours certain images and stories and pushes others to the margins or off the air entirely. In striving for popularity, the television producers have often adopted the strategy of “least objectionable programming,” whereby programs are intended to avoid controversy and remain politically bland.
RAP MUSIC AS IDEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE? According to Tricia Rose, rap music should be understood as a mass mediated criticism of the dominant ideology of racism within the power structure. Rap criticizes traditional institutions like the police, the justice system, education and the job system because these systems are seen as oppressive to blacks and the goal of equality.
Rose argues that much rap music rejects dominant ideological assumptions. – Rap affirms the experiences of inner city black youth while criticizing the social institutions that contribute to their ghettoization. – Rap music has been empowering to black youth by providing them a way to express themselves and their critical ideologies.
Yet at the same time, rap is full of ideological contradictions. While some rap challenges racism, the lyrics and imagery are often misogynistic, depicting women in degrading ways. Thus rap music may challenge some oppressive dominant ideologies (racism) while affirming other oppressive dominant ideologies (sexism).
ADVERTISING AND CONSUMER CULTURE What kinds of stories do advertisements tell about ourselves and our society? Certainly, on one level, ads are specific to their product or service. They tell us that 1.if we drink a particular brand of beer, we will meet attractive women; 2.if we wear the right makeup, we will meet handsome men;
3. if we purchase a certain automobile, we will gain prestige; 4. if we use specific cleansers, we will save time; and 5. if we wear certain clothes, we will find adventure. 6. Ads may also tell us that a particular item will save us money, that a specific service will make us healthier, or that a new product will make a great gift for a loved one.
Despite the diversity of advertising messages and their frequent use of irony and humour, there is an underlying commonality to almost alladvertisements: They are fundamentally about selling. They address their audiences as consumers and celebrate and take for granted the consumer capitalist organization of society. This perspective is, of course, decidedly ideological.
Ads tell us that happiness and satisfaction can be purchased, that each of us is first and foremost an individual consumption unit, and that market relations of buying and selling are the appropriate— perhaps the only—form of social relations outside the intimacy of the family. Our culture of consumption, then, is intimately connected to advertising, which helped create it and continues, in new forms, to sustain consumerism as a central part of contemporary ideology.
WOMEN’S MAGAZINES AS ADVERTISEMENTS The “women’s magazine” is one medium that is particularly advertising oriented and consistently promotes the ideology of consumerism. The magazines promote the consumer lifestyle by showing how beauty, sexuality, career success, culinary skill, and social status can be bought in the consumer marketplace.
Social problems, from the standpoint of consumer ideology, are redefined as personal problems that can be solved by purchasing the appropriate product. In addressing a specific social group, women’s magazines, identify women as a consumption category with special product needs.
Women’s magazines use both direct and covert advertising to sell magazines and promote an ideology that celebrates the consumption of gender-specific products as a means to identity formation and personal satisfaction
ADVERTISING AND THE GLOBALIZATION OF CULTURE The dreams that advertisements sell within the United States are also exported all around the globe. The images on global display, like much domestic advertising, are about dreams. America is portrayed as a kind of dreamland where individuals can fulfil (or buy?) their desires.
The images of the dreamland do not require a rigid uniformity, because central to the ideology on display are the notions of individuality and freedom, which merge into the concept of consumer choice. The world portrayed in television programs such as MTV displays images of attractive people living comfortable lives surrounded by contemporary consumer goods.
Both advertisements and entertainment media promote a commitment to the latest styles—for example, in clothes, cars, leisure activities, and food— that requires continuous consumption to keep up with stylistic changes. The focus on style is directed particularly at youth, who are increasingly the most coveted market and who are particularly avid media users.
The international advertising, television, and music scenes have helped generate an emerging cross-national, global youth culture in which teens in different countries adopt similar styles in clothes and appearance; consume the same soda, cigarettes, and fast food; and listen to and play the same kind of music.
The international teen market may cross national boundaries, but, with the help of American media products, youth style is based to a great degree on American images and consumer goods.
MEDIA IMAGES AND THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF REALITY Croteau and Hoynes, Chapter 6 The mainstream media do not reflect the social diversity that characterizes our society. To a certain extent, the mainstream media present images that are consistent with stereotypes and the dominant ideological portrayal of society.
This is at the cost of women, people of color, the poor, and others who have been historically marginalized in our society. It is unrealistic to expect the media to accurately mirror the real world, because the media can only feature representations of that world, and these images involve at least some filtering. But there is great significance in how the media portray the world, because these portrayals influence our perceptions of the real world.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CONTENT 1. As a reflection of media producers and their ideologies. 2. As a reflection of audience preferences and desires. 3. As a reflection of society in general, including social norms, beliefs and values.
4. The way media content influences audiences and our society. 5. Content as self-enclosed text whose meaning is to be de-coded on its own terms, independent of society and audiences.
RACE AND MEDIA CONTENT Race is a socially constructed category whose meaning varies across time. There is no biologically valid difference in the genetic makeup of different “races.” – Nevertheless, perceived racial distinctions have powerful social meaning with profound real-world consequences.
Historically, the media have taken “whites” to be the norm against which all other racial categories are compared.“White” is normalcy. For example, we speak of “the black community” when referring to blacks, but we do not say “the white community” when referring to whites.
– Using terms like “the black community” or “the black man” signifies race as an important trait to notice – it is a racial signifier. – Racial and gender signifiers are common in the media, and highlight how we call attention to our differences, thus providing covert fuel for racism and sexism.
Historically when racial minorities have been portrayed in the media they have been stereotyped into such roles as the Black mammy, the Black coon, etc – These stereotypes are the product of whites and their dominant ideology of white racism. – They bear little resemblance to the real world.
HISTORICAL FORMS OF RACISM Historically, society has gone through several phases of racist ideology. 1640-1865: The capitalist version of slavery (extremely harsh) brought intense versions of paternalistic racism to justify the complete colonization and de- humanization of blacks.
Paternalistic racists viewed blacks as simple minded, lazy, ugly, happy servants who were perhaps even likeable (as long as they were obedient and knew their place). In this view, slaves “needed” to be put to work in order to be productive, but could only do menial work.
1865-1920s: violent racism emerged, especially in the South, to contain newly freed black slaves who now “threatened” whites (especially poor whites) with competition for jobs, land, women, and other resources. Violent racists stereotyped blacks as ugly, angry, beastlike savages who were out of control. This view portrayed young black males as instinctually inclined toward rape and other savage behaviors.
GENDER AND MEDIA CONTENT The media’s history of portraying women parallels its history of portraying racial minorities. Women have typically been stereotyped as submissive, passive, overly emotional, nurturing, and dependent. Conversely men have been stereotyped as dominant, active, rational, aggressive, and independent.
These depictions are consistent with the dominant ideology of sexism, which supports the social system known as patriarchy. The media has historically depicted women in a narrow range of social roles: love interest, housewife, mother, virgin, and whore. Capitalists have exploited sexual themes to emphasize the image of young women as sex objects.
Today if a woman is applying for a TV role, the single most important consideration, given the capitalist media obsession with sex and violence formulas, is her physical appearance.
SOCIAL CLASS AND MEDIA Most advertisers (sponsors) aim for the middle class consumer, ignoring the poor and working class. – They want to reach people with spending money. Consequently they push the idea that media content emphasize the middle or upper middle class lifestyle as “normalcy.” Result: the poor and working class are largely ignored by the capitalist media.
When the poor and working class are found in the media, they are typically stereotyped in negative ways. – It is important to remember that media producers and owners rarely come from the poor and working classes. They tend to subscribe to mainstream stereotypes about the lower and working classes, just as other do.
Thus when they depict them, they portray them as less civilized, uglier, somewhat incompetent, and dumber than average. The commercial media generally favours' classist ideology, because they favour consumers over non-consumers.
MEDIA INFLUENCE AND THE POLITICAL WORLD. PART FOUR AUDIENCE: MEANING AND INFLUENCE
MEDIA INFLUENCE AND POLITICAL WORLD Croteau and Hoynes, Chapter 7 The media system is presumably animated by certain democratic principles. These principles can be summarized into three basic relationship: media and government; the proposition that, acting on behalf of the citizenry, the media should monitor the full range of state activity, and fearlessly expose abuses of official authority.
media and diverse opinion sources; the proposition that the press should provide a robust, uninhibited, and wide-open marketplace of ideas, in which opposing views may meet, contend, and take each other’s measure. media and the public at large; the propositions that the press should serve the public’s right to know and offer options for meaningful political choices and nourishment for effective participation in civic affairs.
MEDIA AND POLITICS The media have fundamentally changed the way we view politics. Today politicians rely on the commercial mass media to get the word out. Given the capitalist nature of the commercial media, politicians must garner massive amounts of money to purchase media space. – Much of this money comes from Big Media and other large corporations, who expect “special favours” in exchange for these “donations.”
Aside from incumbency, one of the best predictors of which politician will get elected involves which candidate raises the most money to spend on media ads. The media also play an indirect role in influencing politics. The news media, for example, helps set the agenda of modern debates and issues.
MEDIA AND POLITICAL ELITES The most profound and direct influence of the commercial media on politics involves which politicians are covered by the mainstream media. – The commercial media selects which politicians to cover – and which to ignore. – Those politicians most likely to get media attention are the insiders – those already in power – and those with the most money to purchase commercial time.
In both cases the direction of media favoritism is toward the political elites – who are almost all wealthy and supportive of the status quo.
MEDIA AND INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS Citizens in any democracy require adequate information to make informed decisions. There are four theoretical models of media influence: 1. The Hypodermic Model. 2. Limited Effects or the Social Influence Model (1940s to 1960s) 3. Agenda setting model. 4. Priming Model 5. Framing Model
THE HYPODERMIC EFFECT The press is a powerful force in shaping public opinion. Messages were conceived as being ‘injected’ into the mind where they changed feelings and attitudes.
THE SOCIAL INFLUENCE MODEL The period of strong advances in the psychological studies. In this period the foundations of the media effect were established. Surprisingly, the general conclusion was that the media don’t have as strong effect as it was thought before. The media don’t have a direct impact, but are filtered by the community, by the opinion leaders.
AGENDA SETTING HYPOTHESIS This model argues that the media, while not so successful in telling people exactly what to think, are successful in telling people what to think about (Cohen 1963). The media set the agenda for discussion of public issues and debates by directing people’s attention to some issues while censoring other issues
By seeing certain subjects more often we are becoming convinced that they are important. Further, we evaluate other news in terms of what is important
PRIMING EFFECTS The ability of the media to affect which issues or traits individuals use to evaluate political figures. Individuals base their vote choice more on issues covered by the media than on issues not covered by the media The media's content will provide a lot of time and space to certain issues, making these issues more accessible and vivid in the public's mind
FRAMING EFFECTS Framing effects result from the media’s description of an event or issue that emphasizes potentially relevant considera- tions to help individuals make sense of the issue (e.g., suggesting causes) Individuals view policy issues consistent with how they are portrayed by the media
POLITICS AND ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA The commercial media tend to emphasize form over substance in their political coverage. This is partly due to the nature of television itself, with its emphasis on the image.
In effect, the commercial media have chosen to censor substantive issues of national importance in order to provide more escapist entertainment for the masses – and in order to maximize corporate profits. It is the entertainment value rather than the substantive value that matters most to media corporations.
This blurring of tabloid coverage with social relevance reflects one of the contradictions of the post-modern commercial media. – The public becomes unable to separate fact from fiction – Today we live in a media culture saturated with infomercials – where the line between truth and fiction has been deliberately blurred.
As the mass media have become more important in political campaigns, political party organizations have become less important. Parties used to rely on grass roots organization – which pulled people into the political system. Conclusion: Candidates rely mostly on TV ads to “sell” their agenda, and the political system has been greatly cheapened.
MEDIA AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS The civic media sector supports organisations that are the life force of democratic democracy. These are political parties, new social movements, interest groups and sub- cultural networks that relay the concerns of society and propose policy initiatives for consideration by political system. The civic media sector has three main segments:
The first consist of media (such as party controlled newspapers) which provide a link between civic organisations and wider public. They are generally adversarial, and seek to build support for a partisan understanding of society and set of objectives.
The second segment consist of sub- cultural media (such as gay or lesbian magazines) which relate to a social constituency rather than an organised group. These can have an important ‘constitutive’ function; they can promote a sense of social cohesion and common identity, and clarify values and goal through internal processes of discussion.
The third segment consists of intra- organisational media (such as trades union journals) whose purpose is to reinforce the loyalty of its members, hold leadership to account, assist in the sharing of relevant information and experience, and provide a forum for developing new ideas and initiatives.
GLOBAL MEDIA AND GLOBAL POLITICS The emergence of a global media has been controversial. This is because some people fear that the media products of the West will become the dominant products of the rest of the world, thus robbing the world of its diversity.
Their concern involves the issue of cultural imperialism: the imposition of a dominant culture and its cultural forms upon a weaker culture. The basic argument is that Western media products introduced to other nations, especially developing nations, contribute to a decline in the local values, traditions, and cultures of these societies.
ACTIVE AUDIENCES AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF MEANING Croteau and Hoynes, Chapter 8 While it is true that the media influence what we think, it is not true that the media determine what we think. – Audiences are active interpreters. Mass society theorists tend to argue that the emergence of a mass society and the forces of massification have led to mass indoctrination into dominant ideologies and myths.
– These dominant ideologies serve the interests of elites. – This view downplays audiences’ ability to think for themselves. The idea of audiences as “active” interpreters rather than “passive” receivers emerged out of several forces: 1. Recent research. 2. Rising populism (“power to the people!”) associated with the 1960s.
THREE BASIC WAYS IN WHICH AUDIENCES ARE ACTIVE: 1. Through individual interpretation of media products. – Individuals have their own filters and perceptions linked to their unique lives. 2. Through collective interpretation of media products. – Membership in social categories influences how we collectively see issues. – Interpretations are socially constructed. 3. Through collective political action. – Audiences make demands upon and give feedback to media producers.
MEANINGS: AGENCY AND STRUCTURE The notion of an active audience points to a central insight: – Media texts do not have a singular meaning. They have multiple meanings, depending on who produces them and who interprets them. – Everyone uses filters to interpret meanings, so the same program or song may mean different things to different people and audiences. Polysemy: having multiple meanings or interpretations. – Media are polysemic.
WHERE DO MEANINGS COME FROM? THEY COME FROM A MIX OF AGENCY AND STRUCTURE. 1. Dominant ideology, core values, stereotypes, language, and cultural myths provide mainstream ways to interpret. We all learn and understand these mainstream interpretations, which are reinforced by the mainstream media. This is an aspect of social structure. 2. Personal experience. (An aspect of agency).
3. Subcultural and social category memberships, such as learned in family and among friends, peer groups, subcultures, etc. This is an aspect of both social structure and agency, because these meanings are negotiated. 4. Authority and structural institutions like school, church, government, media, etc.
SOCIAL STRUCTURE CONSTRAINS MEANINGS Given the notion of (1) active audiences, and (2) polysemy, does this mean that audiences are free agents who can derive any meaning they want, or that the meaning of texts is limited only by the number of people reading the text? John Fiske tends to push the envelope here, but even he concedes that there are structural limits to how people are likely to interpret a media text.
Social structure limits the ways we are likely to interpret a media text. The social landscape of daily life influences how we interpret media messages. Our personal filters are shaped by our social identities. These social identities include age, race, sex, social class and other social characteristics. – People tend to interpret media messages in ways that are consistent with their social locations in society.
ONE’S SOCIAL LOCATION MATTERS Social location refers to age, race, sex, social class, and other matters of social status. It matters because it helps shape our personal interpretive filters. The task, then, is to be aware of the ways in which meanings are socially constructed – by socially located audiences under specific social-historical circumstances.
DOMINANT IDEOLOGY MEANINGS ARE EASY TO GRASP. Some meanings are easier to grasp than others. – The easier ones draw upon widely shared values, stereotypes, and dominant ideologies – aspects of society we are all exposed to. Other meanings are harder to grasp because they are not mainstream interpretations or they do NOT draw upon dominant myths and ideologies.
Note: This helps explain why advertising is a fundamentally conservative phenomenon. Ads must draw upon wider meanings (like stereotypes) to be successful in reaching mass audiences.
PLEASURE AND FANTASY What explains why a woman might get pleasure from a TV show that depicts women as subservient to men? One pleasure she might get is hegemonic pleasure. This pleasure is achieved if she believes in the patriarchal order that is reinforced by the TV show.
Another possible pleasure she might get involves fantasy. If the TV show is read as fantasy, then she is likely to suspend its real-world ideological implications. In fantasy, we are permitted to imagine that we are different and therefore we suspend real-world judgments. Fantasy is intrinsically fun because it liberates us from traditional real world structures.