|How Does Media Today Play a Role in Stereotyping

||Racial Groups?|
|pic |
|Carrie Trutnau|
|Amanda Fritz|
|Jamie Good |
|In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Race|
|Relations in America|
|Community Studies 111|
|December 19, 2001 |
|Dr. Luke Tripp|
|Television media still portray stereotypes of|
|different races in today’s society, leaving viewers|
|with a pre-conceived notion of where each race falls |
|within society. This gives viewers a negative outlook |
|on races different from their own. Within this paper |
|we will discuss the stereotypes portrayed within the |
|television medium, the news, children’s shows and|
|sitcoms. We will also discuss ways to perhaps help the|
|problem and offer a few solutions. |
|Racism is indeed alive in the media. When researching |
|about how media portrays different stereotypes we|
|found many different articles. One that we came across|
|stated, “Last week Saturday, a young pretty well-known|
|black woman was shot five times in central Sunnyside |
|Pretoria by her boyfriend, in daylight. The story|
|never made it to the papers, not even the Pretoria|
|News. What it was a white woman?” (Racism in the|
|media…) This makes you think of how our society|
|views other races besides the European Americans. The |
|article, Racism in the Media is real and alive, also |
|states that,” It is an open secret that editors push |
|issues that concern their white readers more than the |
|promotion of culture in their neighboring townships. |
|They do not care what happens in the black people’s|
|lives.” “Give them a little bit of soccer on the back |
|page, we have to sell the paper,” is the attitude.|
|First we will look at the news media as a whole. When |
|it comes to news media, the racial profiles projected |
|are indirectly related to punitive public policies,|
|thus giving the mainstream news media the “out” of|
|deniability. When the news media over represents black|
|people in the category that is at issue, the issue|
|becomes “black,” stigmatized, linked to some form of |
|always-justified politically punishing behavior, and, |
|in turn, further racialized. By looking at the ways in|
|which the mainstream news media has covered (or failed|
|to cover) several recent studies/stories involving the|
|news media and race, we can begin to get a better|
|understanding of this practice of racial profiling as |
|it relates to the news media. The role of the news|
|media in promoting racial stereotypes was the missing |
|link between the two studies. Even when Nightline|
|(3/18/98) began its coverage of the story with the|
|acknowledgement that, when it came to the issue of|
|drug addiction and drug policy in the U.S., “most|
|Americans get their information from the news media.” |
|”Crime is violent and criminals are nonwhite.” The|
|real revelation, however, was that television viewers |
|were so accustomed to seeing African-American crime|
|suspects on the local news that even when the race of |
|a suspect was not specified, viewers tended to |
|remember seeing a black suspect. Moreover, when |
|researchers used digital technology to change the race|
|of certain suspects as they appeared on the screen, a |
|little over half of those who saw the “white”|
|perpetrator recalled his race, but two-thirds did when|
|the criminal was depicted as black. “Ninety percent of|
|false recognitions involved African-Americans and|
|Hispanics.” Due to the recent events of September 11th|
|the media has impacted people’s aspects of what and|
|Arab-American looks like and has stereotyped them as |
|terrorists. When seeing an Arab-American in daily life|
|people automatically label them as terrorists; and|
|don’t see anything beyond that, such as what type of |
|person this particular Arab-American is. |
|In my research I found that children’s programs have |
|the highest percent of racially diverse characters.|
|One in particular show is Sesame Street. Sesame Street|
|has been called the multicultural utopia. Any|
|interracial family would be right at home among a|
|rainbow colored sea of monster fur and human flesh.|
|We’d all learn how to rejoice in the respective colors|
|of our skin (or fur). Loretta Long, an actress on|
|Sesame Street called it the “first cross-cultural|
|enlightenment.” Sesame Street has one of the|
|longest-running African-American characters in |
|television history. Modern society could stand to|
|learn a lesson from what the narrow-minded would|
|consider ‘under-evolved’ creatures: Just because we|
|don’t look the same doesn’t mean we can’t sing |
|together. “A few years ago we revisited how we look at|
|racial issues and an expert came in and told us we|
|were doing everything right,” said veteran Sesame|
|Street scribe Nancy Sans, “So, if we’re doing|
|everything right, then why hasn’t the situation |
|changed in the country? Well, what you realize is|
|’Sesame Street’ is just a television show. It’s an|
|hour long and it isn’t seen by everyone.” Sesame|
|Street’s commitment to diversity continues to be a|
|breath of fresh air; and it’s a commitment they take |
|seriously. |
|It’s no secret that today’s television is by no means |
|representative of today’s society. It wouldn’t take|
|all of our fingers to count the number of shows on the|
|major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX), which have|
|successfully carried a cast of minority actors for|
|more than one season. The pickings are equally slim|
|for finding minorities with lead roles in shows with |
|predominantly white casts on these networks. Asians, |
|Latinos and Native Americans are significantly more|
|underrepresented on network television than|
|African-Americans. Start-up networks like, UPN and The|
|WB have managed to do their part; The WB currently|
|runs seven sitcoms with predominantly African-American|
|casts, while UPN carries two. One surprising fact is |
|that only Monday Night Football is common to the top |
|tens shows lists compiled for black and white|
|television viewers.|
|Here are some shocking facts of some recent surveys|
|and polls. A survey of young people found that they|
|not only recognized racial stereotyping was rampant on|
|television, but that television news was a worse|
|perpetrator of racial stereotyping than television|
|entertainment programming. The poll, sponsored by the |
|child advocacy group Children Now, interviewed 1,200 |
|boys and girls aged 10-17, with 300 children coming|
|from each of the four largest racial groups. White and|
|African-American children said they see people of|
|their own race on television, while Latino and Asian |
|children were much less likely to see their race|
|represented. Across all races, children are more|
|likely to associate positive characteristics with|
|white characters and negative characteristics with|
|minority characters. “Children of all races agree that|
|the news media tend to portray African-American and|
|Latino people more negatively than white and Asian|
|people, particularly when the news is about young|
|people.” In addition, “large majorities of|
|African-Americans (71%), Latino (63%) and Asian (51%) |
|children feel there should be more people of their|
|races as newscasters, while most white children feel |
|there are enough white newscasters (76%).” Also a|
|study done about young people found that, “young|
|people overwhelmingly think that it is important for |
|children to see people of their own race on|
|television. Children of color are most likely to think|
|so.” In a study done in 1999, shows on NBC and Fox|
|where looked at based on the number of minorities who |
|had roles on these popular shows.|
|Beverly Hills 90210 on Fox No minorities in lead|
|roles. One Asian woman in a supporting role.|
|ER on NBCT No main black characters; one male doctor, |
|one female physician’s assistant. Minorities in |
|supporting roles include one Pacific Islander nurse, |
|two black nurses and one black desk clerk. A black|
|woman played a recurring role as a nurse practitioner.|
|Friends on NBC No minorities in lead roles. One Asian |
|woman who had a recurring role as a girlfriend. |
|Party of Five on Fox No minorities in lead roles. One |
|former character included a black woman in a recurring|
|role as a girlfriend.|
|Will & Grace on NBC No minorities in lead roles. One |
|Latino woman in a recurring role as a maid.|
|At the recent gathering of the Television Critics|
|Association, the focus of the convention shifted from |
|the networks showing off their fall primetime TV|
|line-ups to the networks executives fielding criticism|
|of the lack of minorities in therein. In response to |
|the fact that not a single one of the 26 shows slated |
|to premiere this fall has a minority in a leading|
|role; the NAACP has launched a study into how well|
|television is doing in accurately representing |
|minorities. They intend to “monitor diversity|
|throughout the television and film industry” and are |
|threatening legal action against the networks based on|
|the Communications Act of 1934 that gave the airwaves |
|to the public. The NAACP President Kweisi Mfume says, |
|”Frontier of television must reflect the multi-ethnic |
|landscape of today’s modern American society.” |
|Racism in television currently promotes a negative and|
|discriminatory form of beliefs and opinions upon|
|viewers. This method of information often inaccurately|
|depicts those of minorities and thus creates the|
|negative stereotype that viewers learn to accept as|
|truth. Only through direct action to implement |
|specific solutions can this means of racism be |
|diminished. The desired goal of the achieved purposes |
|would thus satisfy the need for a racially diverse and|
|indiscriminate means of television broadcasting and|
|its entities. This would successfully promote a |
|positive, multicultural form of television. The |
|reasonableness of these implications if found in the |
|all ready established Federal Communications|
|Commission, which is capable of successfully enacting |
|and regulating the guidelines outlined.|
|Keep the guidelines the NAACP has asked the FCC to|
|implement in regards to the hiring practice of |
|minorities. |
|Rate programs &endash; similar to the rating system|
|used to dictate violence, maturity, and the language |
|content &endash; in regards to issues involving racism|
|and discrimination. Those programs with ratings that |
|do not comply with a preset standard will not air or |
|must be altered to comply with the standards before|
|Dictate that a set number of factual programs shall|
|air that promote minorities and their cultures in a|
|positive and informative viewpoint. |
|Dictate that a set percentage of programming shall|
|include accurate representation of minority cultures’ |
|beliefs and practices, such as (but not limited to): |
|religion, food, dress or language. The solutions|
|listed will become effective through the FCC, which|
|can be notified and persuaded |
|Through letters, phone calls, and protests of both|
|individuals and minority interest groups. |
|A few other solutions, not part of the FCC, that may |
|be able to solve and improve racism in the media|
|Not judging people by the color of their skin. |
|Have an equal diversity among television programs.|
|Inform students and adults of this early, before it|
|goes unrecognized.|
|When viewing diverse programs, make sure that all|
|parts are split up equally. These guidelines will|
|create long-term solutions because they will|
|continuously be enforced. After initiating them |
|viewers will learn to accurately understand and soon |
|be able to accept other races and cultures.|
|Works Cited|
|Anonymous. (1999 Novemeber) “Racism in the Media is Real |
|and Alive”online. |
|tml(28 Nov. 2001)|
|Calypso. (1993, November). “Practical Steps” online.|
|mber 25, 2001).|
|Entman, R.,; Rojecki, A. (2000). “The Black Image in the |
|White Mind” online.Available: |
|http://www.raceandmedia.com. (November25, 2001).|
|Tracinski, R. (2001, October 26). “TheNetworks Cave in to|
|Racism” online. Available:|
|Wolski, C. (1999). “By the Color of Your Skin, Not By the|
|Content of YourCharacter” online. Available:|
|m.(November 25, 2001).|
|Hohman, Kimberly. “Can You Tell MeHow to Get to Sesame|
|Street?”online. Available:|
|http://racerelations.about.com/library |
|Muharrar, Mikal. (1998 October). “Media Blackface, Racial|
|Profiling in NewsReporting” online. Available:|