Essay: Diversity and the Media

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Diversity and the Media

Since the era of Civil Rights Movements, the United States has made great strides in improving civil rights for women and racial and ethnic minorities. Greater awareness of the diversity of the American society has become the subject of public education, media campaigns, and advocacy groups. However, it is far too early to suggest that the battles for civil rights are over. For example, diversity of America is not reflected properly in the media yet. Women and ethnic/racial minorities are often underrepresented, misrepresented, or stereotyped in the media. Challenging these underrepresentations and misrepresentations is crucial for improving the overall diversity of life in America.

The problems in the media today are legion. As a report by the group Ethnic Majority state, the stereotypical way African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-Americans are portrayed today in the media reinforces negative perceptions of these racial and ethnic groups. The report also notes that underrepresenting racial and ethnic minorities in TV programs sends a wrong message about the ethnic reality in the country. When children watch programs that rarely present a mixed cast, they get wrong impressions of how the American society looks like (Diversity in the media and entertainment industries).

There is a similar problem with regard to representations of women in the media. Here are some of the facts collected by National Organization for Women: only six percent of the commercial broadcast TV stations in the U.S. are owned by women; of the communications and media jobs created in 1990-2005, only one of four was filled by women; in the media/communications sector, men earn 29% more than white women and 46% more than women of color. The way gender diversity is misrepresented in the media is even worse. Consider this: "on primetime cable news programs, more than three-quarters of the hosts are white men and less than a quarter are white women. None of the hosts are people of color. The typical guest on these shows is white and male; overall, 67% of the guests are men and 84% are white" (Media activism).

Fortunately, not all news is bad news. As Woods (2001) notes, some print media… [END OF PREVIEW]

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