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Racial Minorities in the Media

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    In this current time within the United States, we are all part of a society, which is essentially a melting pot of a variety of ethnicities, religious devotions, social class, and of many other different backgrounds, and as a nation we embrace this as a vital part of our nation’s identity. Even though there is an abundant presence of race/ethnicity within the media outlets of today, these portrayals within the media tend to be over exaggerated, stereotypical, or just false in general, and these inaccurate representations tend to cause a negative affect upon the perceptions of the many ethnic and racial groups within our nation.

    For this essay I will go into detail about the specifics of the representations, what factors have an influence on these portrayals, their effects upon all viewers exposed to them, and the theoretical implications that these representations and its content are associated with. One of the most common areas where one can gain exposure to these depictions is within national and local television news channels, as they tend to use many stereotypic characteristics to describe the perpetrators/victims of any news story, and this hold true especially for crime stories.

    The theories of framing and second-level agenda-setting hold relevance within this study of local television news coverage of race and ethnicity, as it links the framing of news content with the effects of that content, that is, how people of color are covered in local television news may influence how they are perceived in communities across America, and this framing of the stories can have a strong influence upon how Caucasians and other non-Blacks ethnic groups perceptions and beliefs about the principles of equality, fair play, or affirmative action (Poindexter, Smith & Heider 2003).

    Second-level agenda setting is distinguished from the first-level because the focus is on the transfer of attribute salience from the media agenda to the public agenda, while the first-level focused on the transfer of object salience (ex. issues, political candidates, public institutions) from the media to the public agenda, so In other words, the first-level of agenda setting tells us what to think about, whereas the second-level, as a result of selection, emphasis, or exclusion of attributes, tells us how to think about the object, issue, individual, event, institution, or even product.

    The implications of local television news media framing of racial and ethnic minorities are significant because the audience is unaware of what is happening, as much of the power of framing comes from its ability to define the terms of a debate without the audience realizing it is even taking place (Poindexter, Smith & Heider 2003). Television is one of the most influential media channels in the world today, and exposure to these framing techniques and the racial segregation within the news stations.

    According to the study, viewers would witness and learn that Latino Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans were virtually non-existent as anchors, reporters, subjects, and sources within the news, and although a few African Americans were news anchors and some African Americans reported the news, local television news reporters were usually segregated by race within the station.

    Another thing that was witnessed was the format for the subjects discussed on in the news, since discrimination as a story topic was rare and African Americans were more likely to be newsworthy because they had committed a crime within the community, and that there were fewer opportunities for African Americans to be a source for the news when a story contained only one source, as for Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, there were few or no chances to be a news source (Poindexter, Smith & Heider 2003).

    These techniques performed within televised news end up having a negative impact upon the perceptions that people have about these minority groups within the media, within the live depictions on television and behind the camera within the station and corporate atmosphere. It is important to note that there are also strong theoretical implications in regards to the perception of these racial minorities, more specifically implications of racial identity within these minority groups in society.

    The theories of aversive racism and of the social identity theory were referred to in order to make an assessment of the influence that exposure to these televised depictions of minorities, with a special focus on Latino Americans, have upon the judgments of Caucasian viewers within the nation. It has been revealed that racial identification and media ambiguity can affect both the viewers’ evaluations of target racial/ethnic out-group members as well as in-group esteem, and viewing unfavorable images of these groups has consequential implications for audience members, and these investigations reveal that majority group ember’s (in this case Caucasians) consumption of even a limited number of stereotypical portrayals of Latinos in the media is typically associated with negative judgments about Latino characters’ disposition, stereotypic evaluations of Latinos in society, and even unsympathetic race-related policy preferences (Mastro, Behm-Morawitz & Kopacz 2008). Due to this, the effects of exposure to these images have been an issue of longstanding concern within society, particularly when considering that for many White Americans a vast amount of information about minorities and Latino Americans usually comes from mass media outlets such as television.

    The impact that aversive racism and social identity theory have upon the effects of exposure to media representations of Latinos on race-based expressions among White viewers demonstrate to us that the viewers made judgments in a manner that was relatively consistent with this integrated theoretical approach, although this was not exclusively the case. As expected, viewers’ racially driven responses emerged largely when contextual norms in television portrayals were ambiguous, indicating a tendency for such outcomes to be evoked when responses can be deemed unrelated to race (Mastro, Behm-Morawitz & Kopacz 2008).

    Ambiguity within these portrayals are key as to why a viewer would enact any response fueled by race and ethnicity, thus causing them to refer to any stereotypic information in order to build an understanding and awareness of the Latino Americans and their portrayals. Of all the racial minority groups within the United States, the Latino American community is one of the biggest and fastest-growing minority populations within the entire nation, so I feel that it is essential to analyze how Latinos are represented within the media and what are the perceptions of these representations.

    According to the article “Latino representation on primetime television,” Latino Americans constitute the largest racial / ethnic minority group in the United States, at 12. 5% of the population, yet research suggests that they remain dramatically underrepresented on television, typically compromising to only a total of 1% to 3% of the primetime television population present, and when depicted, Latinos have historically been confined to a narrow set of stereotypic, oftentimes negative, characterizations, which include the criminal, the law enforcer, the Latin lover, the Harlot, and the comic/buffoon.

    The criminal is typically a male identified by his youthful appearance, aggressive nature, dishonesty, and unkempt appearances; the law enforcer is articulate, well groomed, and is respected by their peers; the Latin lover is also well groomed and professionally attired, but is defined by his heavy accent, hot-temper, and sexual aggression; the female harlot, on the other hand, while hot-tempered and sexually aggressive, is provocatively and unprofessionally dressed; the comic or buffoon is characterized by a heavy accent, laziness, secondary status, and lack of intelligence (Mastro& Behm-Morawitz 2005).

    Other than the role of the law enforcer, each of these characterizations often implement stereotypic traits that are often associated with Latino Americans, characteristics such as laziness, lack of intelligence, a bad temper problem, and accents and lisps are typically the most common of these traits that are displayed to viewers via the television medium (Mastro, D. & Robinson, A. 2000). Witnessing these portrayals can be upsetting to the Latino community, as they tend to make a mockery and dehumanize Latinos within these depictions.

    Not only does this cause non-Latino groups to embrace these stereotypic content as factual, but also has a negative impact upon the racial self-esteem within the Latino population within the United States One key topic that I feel must be covered in regards to the representation of Latino Americans in television is the misrepresentation of Latinos in regards to criminal acts and victimization of these crimes displayed in the media.

    According to the article “Race and the misrepresentation of victimization on local television news,” Caucasians are more likely than African Americans and Latino Americans to be portrayed as victims of criminal acts on television news, whereas African Americans and Latino Americans are more likely to be portrayed as lawbreakers rather than as crime victims.

    The reality behind this is that Caucasians are overrepresented, Latino Americans are underrepresented, and African Americans are neither overrepresented nor underrepresented as homicide victims on television news compared to crime reports, while African Americans are overrepresented, Latino Americans are underrepresented, and Caucasians are neither overrepresented nor underrepresented as perpetrators on television news (Dixon & Linz 2000).

    This shows that Caucasians tend to occupy the benevolent roles within television, such as being police officers or firefighters, whereas African Americans and Latino Americans are usually relegated to more negative depictions on television news, such as lawbreakers and perpetrators.

    When intergroup comparisons were performed it shows that that Blacks were less likely than Whites to be portrayed as victims on television news, but this pattern was maintained only when homicides were included in the analysis, and comparisons for Latino to White victims of crime reveal that Latinos were also less likely than Whites to be portrayed as victims on local television news, but when only homicide victims were included in the analysis, Latinos were again less likely than Whites to be portrayed as homicide victims (Dixon & Linz 2000).

    This misrepresentation of victimization is one of the strongest reasons as to why the perception of minority group within the media tend to be negative, which would only lead to a sense of negative self-esteem for the misrepresented groups behalf. These depictions of minority groups and Caucasians as cops and robbers can be vital to understanding more about the specifics behind these depictions and the effects they can cause.

    According to the article “Cops and robbers: images of minorities on primetime television,” when the racial breakdown of characters was analyzed for police officers appearing in primetime television, findings revealed that Caucasians constituted the largest group at 75 percent, followed by African Americans with 19 percent while Latinos and Asian Americans comprised only 4 percent and 3 percent of the television police population, respectively, and no Native American officers were identified within the article.

    The percentages for the races of the perpetrators differed greatly from those of the officers portrayed on the television sample, as Caucasians comprised 86 percent of this population, Latinos were next at 7 percent, African Americans followed with 5 percent, while Asian Americans constituted 2 percent and Native Americans occupied less than 1 percent of the criminal population in the sample (Mastro & Robinson 2000).

    Other findings demonstrate to us that minority officers were less likely to use moderate force compared to their Caucasian counterparts, but this was not consistent across models and levels of force, and s evidenced by the strength of the fight variable in predicting police use of force, situational features of the interaction may be more important than the characteristics of those present, which is suggested to be the case in the real world as the shooting rates of African American and Caucasian officers were almost identical when the criminogenic nature of their ssigned beats was taken into consideration (Mastro & Robinson 2000). As you can see, there is a large abundance of issues and themes present in regards to the representation of Latino Americans within the televised media of today, and while much more can be said about this topic I feel that to shed more light upon the depth of the misrepresentation of minority groups, we must analyze how this situation is for Asian communities as well.

    The article “From vice to virtue: changing portrayals of minorities in China’s official media,” the official media’s portrayal of minority groups in the People’s Republic of China is analyzed, and a content analysis of minority-centered articles appearing in the newspapers has shown that minorities are most frequently depicted as representatives of primitive cultures within the nation of China, as they consider these “primitive minority cultures” as pathologies detrimental to the political and economic development within everyday Chinese society.

    While in recent times both positive and negative images of minority cultures coexist in the official media of the PRC, articles published during the most recent period in China have embraced the view that it is indeed possible to appreciate the virtues of minority cultures within the nation, and that they are not necessarily a detrimental presence (Hoddie & Diqing 2009).

    As for the presence of Asian minority groups within television in the United States, the Asian American are considered to be a growth market, as their affluence, high and successful education, and strong work ethic awards them the label of being a “model minority, ”and as complimentary that term may seem, it nonetheless represents a stereotype whose prevalence must be documented to examine the intersection of minority status and gender in their mass media portrayals (Taylor & Stern 1997).

    Heightened sensitivity to these unwanted effects of Asian-American portrayals can in reality be beneficial to both the advertising industry and society as a whole, as portrayal of Asians in product categories, settings, and relationships not associated with the “success image’ has the potential to generate positive reactions towards Asian-Americans and other social groups (Taylor & Stern 1997).

    Additionally, more common inclusion and more prominent portrayal of Asian models, particularly in ads in product categories for which they have not traditionally been included, have the potential to attract attention and break through the racial divide in the media, so then advertisers would actually benefit by portraying Asian Americans in non-stereotypical ways (Taylor & Stern 1997).

    In my opinion, I feel that this approach should be implemented for all racial minorities in regards to their portrayals within the media. This tactic would be even more beneficial for the Latino American communities, as they are one of the largest and fastest growing minority groups within the nation, and to display accurate traits of this group within the media, such as their strong work ethics and family values, would most likely end in a similar result to the positive modeling of Asian Americans within the media.

    In conclusion, there are strong issues in regards to the misrepresentation of minority groups within the televised media of today, and these hold true even more for the African American and Latino American communities, whom are vastly overrepresented and misrepresented in their media depictions. Many of these portrayals and misrepresentations tend to invoke stereotypical traits and information upon its content, and constant exposure to these characterizations not only lead to a negative self-esteem for the portrayed racial groups, but also a negative perception of these minority groups on behalf of the other racial groups in our society.

    If we were to take a more positive approach in regards to the portrayal of these groups, an approach similar to the positive portrayals of Asian Americans, I believe that we can overcome many of these stereotypic portrayals and avoid any negative cognitions resulting from it. References Cited Poindexter, P. Smith, L. & Heider, D. (2003): Race and ethnicity in local television news: Framing, story assignments, and source selections. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 47, 524-536 Mastro, D. , Behm-Morawitz, E. , Kopacz, M. (2008).

    Exposure to television portrayals of Latinos: the implications of aversive racism and social identity theory. Human Communication Research – vol. 34, 1-37 Mastro, D. & Behm-Morawitz E. (2005). Latino representation on primetime television. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 82 pg. 110-130. Dixon, L. & Linz, D. (2000). Race and the misrepresentation of victimization on local television news. Communication Research, 27, 547-573 Mastro, D. & Robinson, A. (2000). Cops and crooks: Images of minorities on primetime television. ” Journal of Criminal Justice, vol. 28, 385 Hoddie, M. & Diqing, L. (2009). From vice to virtue: changing portrayals of minorities in China’s official media. Asian Ethnicity, vol. 10, 51-69. Taylor, C. R. , & Stern, B. B. (1997). Asian-Americans: Television Advertising and the “Model Minority” Stereotype. Journal Of Advertising, 26(2), 47-61. Dear Professor Mary Millham, This is the final draft of my literature review in regards to the portrayal of racial minorities within the media. I feel very comfortable with the content I wrote about and the way I formatted and outlined the information for this research paper.

    I decided to slightly break away to the way I had outlined my paper in the previous draft, as I felt that the order needed to be switched up to correlate with each other positively and transition easier from point to point. I was able to use all my sources successfully within this research paper, and being able to successfully connect and correlate the information between my sourced within this essay is one of the strongest parts of it, in my opinion. This was a very difficult topic due to the vast amount of information made available for it, but I am very happy with the finishing product of this essay Sincerely, Carlos A. Restrepo

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