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Both age and ethnicity are still too often portrayed by the mass media in ways which reinforce
Research into the media treatment of ethnicity has emphasised the way in which minority ethnic
groups are represented as a problem. They tend to report as the cause of social disorder i.e. riots,
and crime such as mugging sociologist Hall argues. While black youths are involved, so are large
groups of white youths.
In one representation of ethnic minorities, they are portrayed as being abnormal. For instances,
cultural differences are often exaggerated or interpreted in terms of western values. For example
it is claimed that some Asian and or Muslim women are oppressed by having to wear a veil when
in reality many choose to wear it because they feel liberated from the unwanted gazes of men.
They often report that Asian parents force daughters into arranged marriages against their will.
The distinction between `forced' marriages is a rare occurrence that is strongly disapproved of
Asian communities and arranged marriage, which is based on mutual consent. However, media
representations have changed in Britain. In recent years, programmes and films developed
primarily for minority audiences have become popular with white audiences e.g. Goodness
Gracious Me. In addition, Daniels argues that the ideal of public service broadcasting has allowed
Black programming to develop on Channel 4 and BBC2. Higson argues that this has led to the
emergence of Black British cinema through films like My Beautiful Launderette. Hall suggests the
overall result of racial as well as cultural representations and the complexity of what it means to
be Black or Asian.
Ethnic minorities are also seen as a threat in media representations. Although AfricanCaribbean
and Asian immigrants are rarely seen as a threat to jobs and housing of the `white majority' today,
the same concerns are expressed about refugees and asylum seekers. It is alleged that they are
coming to Britain to abuse welfare state and to take advantage of a more successful economy
than their own. On the other hand, a study from the 1990's of news reporting presents an
optimistic picture. Immigration is treated in a sympathetic way as well as the extensive coverage
now given to instances of racism. Multiculturalism and Islam are now more likely to be valued
than attacked and minority voices are more likely to be heard today. However, this progress
should not be exaggerated since still, a quarter of news items still conveyed a negative message
Media representation has emphasised the representations of different groups of people based on
age generalises and categories the basis of stereotypes. These ages include childhood, youth and
old age which are social constructions.
The idea of childhood, a period of innocence and dependence emerged in the 15th century.
Children after the age of 6 or 7 was seen as miniature adults. Childhood today is seen as an
extended stage of a life cycle and sharply distinguishes from adulthood. However, in McQueen's
study of children television has identified three strands. The first strand being the commercial
strand, where the children are targeted as the consumers of cartoons such as `Looney tunes' and
`Tom and Jerry'. The next strand being a public service that seeks to be specifically educational, e.g
Blue Peter. And the last strand being the adult strand which recognises that children prefer `adult'
programmes, e.g. Neighbours. In Britain, it shows that the second strand is declining and the third
has grown, realising that diversity among children and they're capacity to deal with complex
issues. The first strand sees children as totally dependent and in need of protection and guidance
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The most common depiction of young people in the news is the representation of youth as
troublesome. Muncie found a series of moral panics in the postwar period about `immoral
youths' who have no respect for authority, e.g. as teddy boys, mod rockers, muggers, punks and
joyriders. This representation is not uncommon. Analysis of newspapers over a number of
centuries reveals that in every age, it is common to portray youths as a problem.…read more