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Following the pressure that journalists are exposed to in their daily work of delivering content through television and print, the chances are high that such mass-media experts may compromise the ethical issues that are associated with the work they present to their targeted audience. Chapter 14 of the book Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication addresses the ethics that media experts are expected to observe. This chapter elaborates broadly on the Ethics of Mass Media in the overall spectrum of mass communication. Specifically, the chapter presents the moral principles that guide the media profession in all platforms, including the Internet-based content dissemination. This chapter relates to this course since it offers a detailed explanation of the mass-media guiding principles that form a fundamental basis when gauging the credibility, professionalism, and intellectuality of journalists in their respective fields. As this paper reveals, ethics in mass media revolves around ethnic and gender multiplicity, race-based stigmatization, and labeling, as well as the extent of sexual content that media experts are allowed to publicize.
The first main point the author notes in this chapter is that stereotypes associated with mass media are caused by journalists’ prescribed roles, which in turn influence the public perception. The author explains this point by quoting from the research that the American population is progressively becoming diverse in terms of race, although non-Whites or the minority groups do not get substantial media coverage (Lule, 2016). According to Lule (2016), in most of the contents aired on TVs, presented via entertainment, or through print, among others seldom include the marginalized citizens.
However, media experts who attempt to cover these minority groups depict them as considerably stigmatized people. Unlike the majority groups that the mass media experts depict as multifaceted individuals who possess a complete variety of human aspects, conduct, and enthusiasm, journalists paint a picture that the minority groups never possess these traits. Besides, the author presents a worrying issue whereby the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) society has been exposed to substantial stereotyping by the mass media team. Although the chapter does not clarify whether this issue is only apparent in the U.S/, the author includes women and the physically challenged group in the list of stigmatized citizens.
The second point that the author notes is that minorities increasingly undergo segregation and labeling in mass media. To verify the above claim, Lule (2016) relies on historical facts dating back in 1999 when the U.S. mainstream television networks availed their calendar of events for the season where among the 26 recently aired TV contents, all the protagonist positions were allocated to other non-stereotyped groups, as opposed to the marginalized ones such as African-Americans. Worse, secondary positions also failed to adequately incorporate ethnically marginalized classes (Lule, 2016). However, the author cites an indication of a change of this trend by emphasizing the dissenting role played by various support movements such as the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) (Lule, 2016). One closing point that the author reveals is that regardless of all efforts to achieve public awareness as far as diversity and stigmatization matters are concerned, the level of underrepresentation of marginalized groups in America is worrying in all mass media platforms.
The third key point in this chapter is gender stereotyping. The author presents “femaleness” as one form of gender discrimination, where women only assume peripheral positions in society (Lule, 2016). He derives evidence from the Donna Reed Show where the female performer, Donna Reed, takes the position of a conventional homemaker where her major duties entail dishwashing, culinary, and attending to her kids and spouse (Lule, 2016). Such media depiction of females as less capable in the community qualifies as gender-based stigmatization. In this case, mass media coverage here is compromised because it demeans women’s role is the contemporary society where they have proved to hold superior positions that were previously a preserve of their male counterparts. On the contrary, media platforms present men as powerful individuals who are rarely found idling at their backyards. According to Lule (2016), media depicts male characters as leaders who are energetic, antagonistic, and full of aspirations in their lives, a situation that the chapter emphasizes a demonstrating the level of gender-based labeling in the society.
The book from where the chapter understudy is derived is Jack Lule. He was born in 1954 in Huntington, New York. His parents were John F, who was a legal representative by profession,, and Mary Lule, who was a healthcare expert (Lehigh University, 2017). Lule is married with three kids. In terms of academics, Lule schooled at the State University of New York, where he acquired his Business Administration degree in 1976. He also enrolled at Temple University in 1980, where he secured his Master’s degree in journalism before attaining his Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate seven years later at the University of Georgia.
Lule is a renowned lecturer at Joseph B. McFadden, where he has been teaching journalism for almost 15 years now. Besides, Lule is the administrator of the globalization and collective change program at Lehigh University, a position he has held since 2006 (Lehigh University, 2017). Lule is also an author who is involved in academic and industry research specializing in intercontinental communication, globalization and media, the critical and cultural study of information, global news coverage, teaching media technology, and online journalism (Lule, 2016). Apart from these accomplishments, Lule has also written several books and articles. One of his works includes the book Daily News, Eternal Stories: The Mythology of Journalism by Guildford Press. This book, which was printed in 2001, is regarded as a huge milestone in news sociology. As a result, the work secured Lule the Lewis Mumford Award in 2002 for its outstanding media issues coverage. Lule has also printed close to 40 intellectual articles and book chapters (Lule, 2016). In addition to the above exemplary accomplishments, he is a recurrent contributor to assorted peer-reviewed articles and media reports. Dr. Lule has served at BBC, the National Public Radio, and other media outlets as a reporter on mass media-related matters.
In his earlier careers, it is surprising that Lule, the renowned journalist, first served as a bar attendant and a transit driver for three years beginning from 1976. He later served in Philadelphia Inquirer as a journalist and an administrative assistant. At the University of Tulsa, he served as an associate lecturer of communication before joining Lehigh University, where he served as a departmental chair (Lule, 2016).
My Personal Evaluation
With reference to the chapter’s topic of “Ethics in Mass Media”, it was interesting to realize that ethics in the field of journalism is a chronological phenomenon whereby what is being experienced in the contemporary media, for instance, stigmatization, racist contents, and gender-based stereotyping, is a coronation of the past. I have acquired new insights concerning stereotyping in terms of gender and race whereby Lule (2016) presents such ethical issues as a phenomenon that greatly influences the perspectives of the public. For instance, presenting women as weak or characters that can only play subordinate roles is degrading and capable of influencing the position that an employer gives to a female in the job market.
In the context of stereotyping in mass media, this episode of history reveals to me how racial and gender-based discrimination has affected the U.S. media platforms to the extent that marginalized groups, including African-Americans, encounter minimal or no media representation. This major issue of minority exclusion and stereotyping has prevailed in the U.S. since 1999. The trend in gender-based stereotyping as depicted in the book is a revelation for contemporary media practitioners to practice gender equity in media representation.
The chapter on media and ethics has considerably supplemented materials in the text and lectures. Firstly, whereas we have covered various theories and areas of contemporary professionalism as far as mass communication is concerned, the topic of ethics was not as widely and in-depth covered as presented in this chapter. Secondly, this chapter has addressed the root of ethics in mass media, which influences both the mass media industry in relation to the perspectives of the public.
According to my observation, this chapter was well written. The arguments presented depict the linking of the theory of ethics, especially gender and racial stereotyping, to journalism and its contemporary application in mass media consumerism. The author used scholarly arguments, historical trends, and examples from movies, and television network programs to show how the issue of ethics has escalated with respect to gender and racial stereotyping.
However, the author failed to cover the topic as I expected. For instance, when I came across the chapter heading “Ethics in Mass Media”, my expectation was that he would talk about mass media ethical issues in terms of conduct, professionalism, and policy. However, the author’s mode of addressing gender and racial stereotyping was contrary my expectations, despite the pertinence of the matter.
Some of the questions about the media and audience that the topic did not answer include how gender and racial stereotyping influences the public in terms of content consumption. Specifically, the author did not respond to how mass media can adequately address the issues of stereotyping as a way of striking a balance between various media content consumers.
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This chapter is relevant to the contemporary life because gender and racial discrimination is still experienced even in the twenty-first century whereby marginalized groups such as African-Americans and even physically challenged people fail to get the necessary media coverage. Boden (2016) presents mass media as a playground of stereotyping. Therefore, in this chapter, some of the issues that are of policy and social concern include sexual content in the public communication, femininity positioning in mass media, and racial discrimination. Ethics in mass communication should address these pertinent issues by stipulating stern penalties where any form of media stigmatizing is demonstrated in the process of content coverage.
The author accomplished his purpose in this chapter, owing to his reputation in writing similar contents in the context. Given that the author objectively targeted at explaining the link between gender and racial stereotyping as antecedents of media and the underlying impacts on the audience, the author adequately covered this issue by providing information with reference to the historical and practical application of journalism to the public. Therefore, I highly recommend this book because it enhances the reader’s critical thinking and rationality about ethics in mass media, including the extent and way forward concerning mass media stereotyping.
Boden, J. (2016). Mass media: Playground of stereotyping. International Communication Gazette, 78(2), 121-136.
Lehigh University. (2017). Department of communication & journalism. Web.
Lule, J. (2016). Understanding media and culture: An introduction to mass communication. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing.