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Bias Of The American Mass Media

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Bias Media 1

Running head: BIAS MASS MEDIA

Bias of the American Mass Media

Race Issue Paper

Drake Glasen

English 111

Jacqueline Cason

Ms. Cornell

4/05/2006

Bias Media 2

The Bias of the American Mass Media

Race and gender codes are constructed from cultural histories, beliefs, and most influentially, the media. According to Omi, (1989) people use race and gender to help identify with a person and how they should relate to others. This way of identifying people's characteristics is highly susceptible to falling into stereotypes. That is why media coverage can have such a profound effect on people's views of other races and cultures. DeMott (1995) argues that Hollywood creates an utopian view of race relations, and that movies such as Lethal Weapon and Driving Miss Daisy promote a positive view of cultural togetherness that is actually false. But DeMott fails to acknowledge that many Hollywood movies and much of American news media depicts minority races in a sadly negative light. DeMott is correct in his thinking that the mass media plays a crucial role in white America's views of other cultures and races, and that the media's interpretation of cultures and races is what people are shown. Sadly, however, that interpretation is often skewed and racist.

In current headlines, a company from the country of Dubai has been trying to acquire rights to American ports. This subject raised much debate over foreign involvement in the American economy. The prime reason for the Dubai ports deal failure was the outcry from Americans at letting a Middle Eastern country control American ports. This mentality sadly stemmed from pure ignorance and a racist view of Middle Eastern peoples. In a recent article Friedman (2006) discusses the fact that Dubai is "the sort of decent, modernizing model we should be trying to nurture in the Arab-Muslim world" (Friedman, 2006) Dubai is a country building itself using a peaceful and worldly

Bias Media 3

approach, not violence and suppression. Dubai is exactly the type of country the U.S. should be doing business with. So why was America so afraid to let a peaceful and flourishing Arab nation become in control of their ports? Was it a misunderstanding of another culture, racism, from 9/11, or fear of terrorists? For the American people it is a little bit of all and that misunderstanding, fear, and racism come directly from the mass media.

Whenever a Middle Eastern man or woman is in the news today it is hardly ever for a good reason. The extremists are the ones representing an entire culture. However, it isn't just the Middle Eastern people being misrepresented. African-Americans and Latinos are also portrayed in a negative light. Rarely do stories that show the true cultures make it to the air; instead it is the drug busts, bombings, shootings, robberies, murders and rape that are the stars of the headlines. It is estimated that only 8% of African-Americans commit serious crimes such as homicide, rape, robbery, and assault (Balkaran, 1999). So the mass media is misrepresenting approximately 92% of a culture. Where on the other hand, arrest statistics show that in 1994 67% of arrest were of white people, yet this is not how the media represents it (BJS, 1994).

A good example of how the media can obscure the legitimacy of an event is the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. The media portrayed the event as being a race riot, being purely based on African-American racial issues, but it was the underlying economic struggle, decay, and lack of political support that had been around for decades that motivated the riots (Harris, 1997). The rioters were portrayed as black criminals but the arrest records show a different story. Only 36% of the rioters were African-American,

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