1.) Agenda Setting
Ever since its beginning the mass media, in all its varied mediums have had the ability to alter the way we think. Agenda setting is one of those things that happens when you have mass communication. If you look at any of the media conglomerates website you see how it works out. They are all covering the same yellow stories and the same hot button issue that every other media is. Heck, most of them are even covering the other media’s and giving their opinions and synopsis’s of others stories. Basically they are telling each other and the public what is relevant news.
Take today’s front page on CNN.com, you have: CIA destroyed tapes, the mall shooter, election coverage, a missing person, and secret report details Katrina hospital deaths, oh and of course Britney Spear and Donald Trump. Now jump over to MSNBC and surprise the same headlines. The only difference is which ones they feel are most important and now we start to see how each news organization is agenda setting.
As far as what I personally believe is newsworthy. The dictionary defines the newsworthy as something that is sufficiently interesting to be reported in a newspaper. This is were it start to get very messy. I am sure no one will argue with the fact that things like politics, tragedies, and missing people are news. But, what about Miss Spears or Mr. Trump? I personally do not think they are front page material. However, as a journalist myself I submit to the fact that there are people out there who want to follow their every doing and thus it becomes newsworthy and should be on our preverbal radar’s as reporters as much as I would like it not to be.
2). Differing Agendas
One of the stories that MSNBC and CNN are both leading with today is the recent shooting in a mall in Nebraska. The difference in the what they have is evident on their home page. CNN has a video of the shooter entering the mall with his gun hidden, but not visible, under his sweater. MSNBC still has video’s of the 911 callers, on cell phones while the shooting was occurring. I think the reason for this difference is because of CNN’s ability to get the footage before MSNBC who seems to be a day behind in the covering of this issue. It could also be due to the fact that MSNBC just made an editorial decision to go with something different than CNN had at the time.
There are many other invisible reasons for the media’s differing coverage. If you look up the word agenda in the dictionary the definition reads, a list of items of business to be considered for discussion. It is really quite simple-various organizations have separate agendas. But, why do they have agendas that appear similar at first glance but when examined closer they have glaring differences? That answer is a little more difficult due to a myriad of variables, some subtle, and other much more complex.
I feel that the reasons for the unalike agendas can be broken down into three major categories. The first of which, and I believe the deepest, is Personnel, not all companies have personnel with like viewpoints and biases. If different companies managing editors and owners have unalike view points from others then correspondingly, so will the way they report stories. It is part of the trickle-down effect.
The second category I have made is Adversing, advertising is the way most of the media stays in business and that bring about many varying agendas. A hypothetical to demonstrate my point would be if Hasbro toys advertises heavily on FOX then obviously, FOX will not cover a story about Hasbro toys having lead in them the same way that a network with no connection to the toy manufacturer would.
My third and final category in reasoning for differing media agendas is Politics, a bias that seems to have an out of sight out of mind policy with most of the media community. Nevertheless, it is still evident and is a big part of the reason for the various vantage points in todays media.
All of these intricacies affect the way we view or world. Whether it is personal preference that guides us to a certain news outlet or whether we casually glean from various places, one thing is clear no matter what they show us the stories they choose in the way they choose to. It is up to each individual to ascertain what, how and why their stories differ.
3.) Body of Media
The book delves into whether or not the media influences and promotes women and men to believe that the culture’s standards for body image are ideal. Catch phrases like, “thin is in” and “the perfect body” are two examples of “eye-catching” headlines that I have observed in many women’s magazines. The media influences us through television, fashion and health magazines, music videos, film, commercials, and various other advertisements. Sadly, as a result, this repeated exposure, the “thin” ideal, can lead many young girls into developing eating disorders, depression, low self-esteem, stress, and even commit suicide. The three central types of media that I found that do indeed influence body image are: Fashion magazines, famous top-models and actresses, and teenage or young adult women in the music industry.
A famous person once said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. In the eyes of society, women like Cindy Crawford, Daisy Fuentes, and Naomi Campbell are the epitome of perfection. What girl would not want to look like them? Unfortunately, a number of girls want to be just like them. Every year, millions of people are hurting themselves trying to be carbon copies of these sex symbols. The media presents society with unrealistic body types promoting people, especially women, to look like them.
Whatever happened to motivational songs, and words of encouragement. Now everything in our media revolves around the appearance of how one is supposed to look. Now everyone has, at one time or another, wished that they could change something about themselves. For many people, the desired change involves something about their appearance. What is this focus that people have on their body as a whole? It is their body image. Body image is something that everyone has. It affects the young and the old. Both males and females body image’s are influenced by the media. It is something that our society has become accustom to and their really isn’t much point trying to change it. It is a vicious cycle driven by AD dollars and catered to the young due to their impressionability. The companies are trying to hook them while they are young and dumb. And while it may not be good or fair it is, and probably always will be, part of a capitalist society.
4.) Racial Stereotyping
One of the shows that I believe has characters with racial stereotypes is Family Guy on FOX. Family Guy has many characters all of which play a stereotypical role from todays society. The show revolves around the adventures of Peter Griffin, a bumbling but well-intentioned blue-collar worker. Peter is an Irish-American Catholic with a thick Rhode Island / Eastern Massachusetts accent. Peter is the bread winner of the home who exhibits traits like, beer drinking, crudeness, and lust for women. Much like many stereotypical white American men. On the other side of the race scale is mild-mannered deli owner Cleveland Brown. A black man who is usually mild mannered until someone crosses him and forces into a rage. Which is stereotypical of many African American’s.
A show that has multi racial characters who seem to not fit into their traditional racial stereotypes is Private Practice, on ABC, all of the character’s exhibit balanced characteristics no matter what race they are. They are all just people, they exhibit no racial stereotypes that I can think of. Tye Diggs plays a doctor who is divorced from his wife but still has a strong relationship with his wife and daughter, not traditional of most divorced African American men. The other characters do not fit into any particular stereotype. I have been watching since the beginning and not once have I seen one racial stereotypical behavior displayed by any cast member or guest.
I feel that the reason for showing or not showing racial stereotypical behaviors was a designed decision by each shows creator. Much of Family Guy’s humor comes from the different characters unique behavior and it is fitting in the comedy. The creator chose to have them display these behaviors for comic value and the show would loose much, if not all of its appeal, without it. Whereas, in Private Practice, which is a drama, the focus of the show is on personal relationships and I feel it is beneficial, for vicarious reasons, that each member of the cast appear just as another person. It would not be as easy for me to relate to Tye Diggs if he played a stereotypical black man, something which I am not, the creators of these types of shows know what they are doing and cater them accordingly