Media - A-Level Sociology


The Power of the Media

- UK 2014 Ofcom: 96% of homes had TV, viewers watched an average of 4 hours daily. 

- 77% of UK households have broadband connections.

- Society has become media-saturated, with media becoming an important source of information, entertainment and leisure activity for large numbers of people.

- If the media didn't report an event, distorted it or made it up, only the people directly involved would know.

- The media has the power to construct our view of the world.

- The media and our dependency on it for information raises many questions, including how it should be regulated and whether ownership creates a bias.

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Formal Controls - The Law

- The Laws of Libel forbid the publication of an untrue statement about a person which may result in them facing ridicule, hostility or dislike.

- The Official Secrets Acts make it a criminal offence to report without authorization any official government activity deemed to be an "official secret".

- Defence and Security Media Advisory Notices are issued by the government as requests to journalists not to report defence and counter-terrorism information which may impact security. 

- The Racial and Religious Hatred Act and Equality Act forbid voicing opinions which will encourage hatred or discrimination based on ethnic group or religious belief.

- The Obscene Publications Act forbids the publication of anything that a court considers obscene or indecent, and likely to "deprave and corrupt" those who consume it.

- Contempt of Court provision forbids the reporting, expression of opinions or publication of material regarding cases which are likely to jeopardize a fair trial.

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Formal Controls - Ofcom

- Ofcom is a powerful media regulator with responsibilities across TV, radio and wireless communication services.

- It furthers the interests of consumers.

- Secures the best use of the radio spectrum.

- Ensures that a wide range of TV, radio, electronic media and communications networks are available in the UK, with high-quality services having broad appeal.

- Protects the public from any offensive or potentially harmful effects of media and safeguards people from being unfairly treated on television and radio programmes.

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Formal Controls - The BBC

- The BBC is a largely state-funded body, governed by the BBC Trust.

- The Trust has a clear duty to represent the interests of license fee-payers and to ensure that the BBC remains largely independent, resisting pressure and influence from any source.

- Partly regulated by Ofcom, partly by the Trust.

- The state can have some control over the BBC by refusing to raise the license fee.

- The BBC does have to compete with commercial broadcasting to justify the license fee.

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Formal Controls - IPSO

- The Independent Press Standards Organisation. 

- IPSO is an independent regulator for the newspaper and magazine industry.

- Formed following the Leveson Inquiry, after the ethics of journalists came into question 

- It seeks to monitor and maintain the standards of journalism set out in what is known as the Editors' Code of Practice, which deals with accuracy, invasions of privacy, harassment etc. 

- IPSO considers and investigates complaints.

- However, many see IPSO as little different from the former PCC, and not as independent but as a puppet of the big newspaper corporations, protecting their interests and not the public.  

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How Governments Influence Media Output

- Holding official government press conferences and briefings, showing the official government stance on issues, in hopes of being in the media. 

- Leaks and off the record briefings, an informal attempt to manage the news. These are non-attributable. Journalists giving favourable exposure will be given preferential treatment.

- Spin doctors try to manipulate the media by providing a favourable slant to a controversial story. They also attempt to bury bad news, through distracting with a more sensational story.

- Refusal to issue broadcasting licenses to those whom it deems unfit or unsuitable.

- Refusal to allow the use of some computer software and the use of filtering and surveillance. E.g. Google withdrew from China because the government was using it to track human rights activists.

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Ownership of the Media

- Ownership of the media is concentrated in the hands of a few large companies.

- Of the circulation of national daily and Sunday newspapers, around 86% is controlled by 4 companies.

- Rupert Murdock accounts for about 35% of the total newspaper sales in 2015.

- The same few companies control a wide range of different media, and therefore a large percentage of what we see and read. 

- News UK and News Corporation own 32% of news circulation and own 39% if Sky television, Harper Collins book publishers and a wide range of websites.

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Lords of the Global Village

- Bagdikian pointed out that even 25 years ago a few powerful companies owned most of the media and identified the following features of media ownership:

- The concentration of ownership: media of all kinds owned by a few large companies 

- Verticle integration: concentration of media in one medium, e.g. a company owning several newspapers, production and distribution. News Corporation.

- Horizontal integration: cross-media ownership. Wide range of media such as newspapers, cable and book publishing. 

- Global ownership: media ownership is international, owners have global media empires. 

- Conglomeration and diversification: media companies are often part of a huge conglomerate, diversity in products other than the media. Virgin; media and airlines etc. 

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Lords of the Global Village 2

Synergy: where a product is produced in different forms which are promoted together, either through different arms of the same company or through a collaboration of different companies, to enable greater sales.

- Technological convergence: several media technologies, once contained in separate devices are combined in a single service.

-Five global dimension firms own most of the newspapers, magazines, book publishers, motion picture studios etc. in the United States. 

-"give each of the five corporations and their leaders more communications power than was exercised by any despot or dictatorship in history".

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The Manipulative or Instrumentalist Approach

- The traditional Marxist approach suggests that the owners directly control media content, and manipulate that content and media audiences to protect their profits and spread the dominant ideology. 

- Journalists will self-censor their work, and produce biased, one-sided reports which attack and ridicule other ideas that go against the status quo. 

- Curran and Seaton: found evidence which suggests media owners did interfere and manipulate content to protect their interests, showing bias towards a government that favoured him. 

- 2003, Murdoch was arguing strongly in interviews for war with Iraq.

- This approach assumes the media audience is passive, easily manipulated. People unquestioningly swallow the preferred content. 

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Criticisms of the Manipulative Approach

- Pluralists argue that there is a wide range of opinion in the media, and owners are primarily concerned with making a profit. They are driven by attracting large audiences to gain advertisers, so simply show audiences what they want.

- The state regulates media ownership so no one company has too much influence. By law, TV and radio in the UK have to report news impartiality, and can't simply churn out a biased report.

- Audiences are not as gullible and easily manipulated, people can interpret and reject media content depending on their existing ideas and experiences. 

- Pluralists and Neophilliacs suggest a rise in citizen journalism, which has undermined the influence of media owners and given more power to ordinary people.

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The Hegemonic Approach

- A Neo-Marxist approach associated with the works of the Glasgow Media Group.

- Suggests the mass media spreads a dominant ideology by justifying or legitimizing the power of the ruling class.

- It suggests that owners do have influence, but rarely on a day to day basis, this is left to the managers and journalists.

- Managers and Journalists have some professional independence, and they generally support the dominant ideology by choice. 

- The GMG points out that journalists tend to be male, white and middle-class and are socialised into the dominant ideology. So events are reported from this perspective. 

- Anything that goes against the status quo is ridiculed and mocked. 

- Journalists' news values and campaigns against the dominant ideology, serves the purpose of attracting audiences and maintaining the pretence that the media is generally objective and unbiased. 

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The Hegemonic Approach 2

- Journalists' news values mean that sometimes journalists criticise the dominant ideology, meaning that there is a range of content which serves the purpose of attracting audiences and maintaining the pretence that media content is objective. 

- GMG found that some items are routinely excluded from media, encouraging audiences to think about some events over others. 

- The damage caused in the 2011 British riots rather than the riots were occurring in the first place.

- Known as agenda-setting and gatekeeping

- Philo illustrates this is a study of media coverage of the global banking crisis 2008

- Audiences are persuaded to see the dominant ideology as a consensus. 

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Criticisms of the Hegemonic Approach

- Undermines the power and influence of the owners, who appoint and dismiss managers and editors who step out of line. E.g Former Sun editor David Yelland said that all of Rupert Murdoch's think whether he would agree with what they are publishing. 

- Pluralists suggest the rise of the new globalized digital media and the internet has undermined the traditional influence of media owners

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The Pluralist Approach

- See the exercise of power in a society as reflecting a broad range of social interests, with power spread among competing groups. 

- Media content is driven by the fight for profits through high circulation and audience figures. 

- Media content reflects a huge range of audience interests and ideas, including those which challenge the dominant ideology. 

- The media are generally free from government or owner control.

- Audiences are free to "pick 'n' mix" whatever interpretations suits them, thanks to the wide range of media content available. 

- Due to the new media and globalisation, citizen journalism represents even more views.  

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Criticism of the Pluralist Approach

- Media owners appoint editors who have on numerous occasions been sacked for uncooperative behaviour.

- While journalists, managers and television producers have a degree of independence, they operate within the constraints set by the owner.

- Only very rich groups will have the resources to launch major media companies to get their views across independently

- The pressure to attract audiences limits choice due to the decline in quality, news and information gets squeezed out or sensationalised, turning it into "infotainment". Curran et al found that media content is becoming more entertainment centred

- Hegemonic theorists argue that people have been socialised to believe that they are being provided with what they want.

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The Media, Globalisation and Popular Culture

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Globalisation and Popular Culture

- technological advancement has created a "global village" (McLuhan)

- This term is used to describe the way that the media and electronic communications now operate on a global scale and so shrink barriers of space and time that the world has become like a single village/community

 - This is a part of globalisation, which refers to the way societies across the globe have become increasingly interconnected

- This has led to the growing globalisation of popular culture.

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Popular Culture

- Popular culture refers to cultural products liked and enjoyed by the mass of ordinary people, often associated with mass culture. 

- It is highly commercialised, involving mass production, standardized and short-lived products. 

- The term "low culture" is a derogatory term used to describe popular culture, it suggests that mass culture is of inferior quality to high culture of the elite. 

- Popular culture is largely linked to passive and unchallenging entertainment.

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High Culture

- Popular culture is often contrasted to high culture

- High culture is seen as something "special" to be treated with respect and reverence, involving things of lasting value and part of a heritage which is worth preserving. 

-E.g. Ballet, Opera, Fine Art

 -Such products might include "serious" news programmes and documentaries, and quality newspapers.

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Changing Distinction Between High and Popular

- Postmodernists argue that the distinction between high culture and popular culture is weakening

- Strinati: elements of high culture have now become a part of popular culture, and elements of popular culture have been incorporated into high culture. Thus showing that there is no longer any meaningful distinction. 

- Technology means that mass audiences can see high culture products, such as paintings by artists such as Van Gogh

- E.g Literature is turned into TV series' and major mass movies, such as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. 

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Evaluation of Popular Culture

- Popular culture is often attacked for diverting people away from more useful activities, for driving down social standards and having harmful effects on mass audiences.

- Marxists see mass culture as mass-produced products imposed on the masses for financial gain. A popular mass culture is a form of social control, giving an illusion of choice between a range of media infotainment and escapist fantasy. Maintains the dominant ideology. 

- Strinati rejects this, pointing to diversity and choice within popular culture, which people select and critically respond to. 

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A Global Popular Culture

- Flew: new media technologies have played an important role in the development of a global popular culture. 

- Global culture is primarily American in its origin.

- Globalisation has undermined national and local cultures, due to the same products being sold worldwide, making cultures more and more similar.

- Cultural homogenization is the process whereby the separate characteristics of two or more cultures are lost or erased and become blended into one uniform culture. 

-American dominated content leads to the acceptance fo the dominant ideology of Western capitalism } Culture-ideology of Consumerism (Sklair)

- Ritzer: companies operate globally, promoting global culture among with consumer lifestyles.

- US and UK companies sell their programmes and formats globally. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire has been distributed to 120 countries.

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Cultural and Media Imperialism

- Fenton: points out that global rarely means universal, and normally disguises Western domination over other cultures.

- Most media conglomerates are USA based, and transnational media and communications corporations, like Google, dominate global communications. 

- This has been referred to as "Cocacolonisation", which involved cultural or media imperialism. 

- Media led global culture-ideology of consumerism has led to Western media products and values being forced onto other cultures, undermining a good part of local cultures and cultural independence. 

- 500 top-grossing international films of all time, outside the US, are mostly American.

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Pluralist View of Culture Globalisation

- There is no such thing as mass or popular culture. 

- Due to modern media technology consumers are offered more cultural diversity in regards to what media they consume.

- Compaine: global competition is expanding sources of information and entertainment, rather than restricting them. 

- Tomlinson: hybridization or mixing of cultures, due to people being able to pick 'n' mix which global cultures they consume. Local cultures and Western culture combine to create hybrid cultures.

- Glocalisation: merging of local and global.

- New media enables consumers to create and distribute their own media products, rather than being passive victims of media conglomerates. 

- Not all cultures will react the same way or necessarily adopt the Western culture media may promote. 

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Criticism of Globalisation of Culture

- Thusso: argues that the globalization of television and competition between media conglomerates for audiences has led to tabloidization and infotainment.

- This infotainment is accompanied by the promotion of a false global "feelgood factor", based on Western consumerist lifestyle. 

- This diverts people's attention away from more serious issues, like wars, the destruction of native cultures by media conglomerates and global inequality. 

- This provides evidence for the Marxist view, in that global mass culture lulls consumers into an uncritical passivity, making them less likely to challenge dominant ideas. 

- Global media has led to less choice due to a few media "lords of the global village" creating cultural sameness. 

- Can be argued that media imperialism has led to a global cultural homogenization.

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Postmodern View of the Media

- Show similarities to the Pluralist perspective, rather than Marxist. 

- Believe that the globalisation of media has led to more consumer choice than before, in regards to consumption patterns and lifestyle, opening up a greater awareness of cultures. 

- Baudrillard: argues that we now live in a media-saturated society, in which media images dominate and distort our view of the world. Baudrillard refers to this distortion as a hyperreality, in which appearances are everything, with the media presenting simulacra.

Simulacra: artificial make-believe images or copies of real events which bear little or no relation to the real world.

- The media is blurring the distinction between what is real and what is not, leaving audiences confused.

- Strinati: Media power in shaping consumer choices is huge, media forms our sense of reality and dominate how we define ourselves. 

- Media creates pressures to consume. 

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Postmodern View of the Media 2

- Baudrillard suggests we identify more with media images than we do with our daily experiences. 

- An example of this can be found in the TV soap Coronation Street when the character Deidre Barlow was wrongfully sent to prison in the show. the public started a big campaign and the Prime Minister even intervened. 

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Criticisms of the Postmodernist View

- It assumes that people approach the media without any prior experiences of their own and that they do not discuss, interpret or reject media imagery. 

- Media images and representations do not open up new choices of identity and lifestyle but reinforce stereotypes

- Poorest societies and people do not have access to the media and cannot afford to make choices regarding lifestyle and identity

- Marxists emphasize that the alleged choice is a myth as transnational media conglomerates control the major media and forms of communication and influence. 

- The media is only one element that shapes our lives. 

- Personal factors such as gender, social class, sexuality etc. are likely to define how we interpret media content. 

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Social Construction of News

- Media has to process and select and even construct what counts as "the news" as they cannot report on everything. 

- The GMG has shown that the selection and presentation of media news stories is not a neutral process, but that the news is a sequence of socially manufactured messages within the context of the dominant ideology.

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The Influence of Owners

- Private owners of the media may impose their own views on their editors. 

- The political leanings of the owners and editors are overwhelmingly conservative, which is likely to have an impact on news content. 

- Owners occasionally give new editors direct instructions.

- The owners via editors influence the resources made available to cover news stories.

- Journalists and particularly editors depend their careers on not upsetting the owners, possibly leading to self-censorship.

- Owners are concerned with profits, so need to attract large audiences in competitive global media circumstances, meaning news gets squeezed out into bland "infotainment". This encourages a culture of unethical journalism, as can be seen during the Levison Inquiry. 

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Making a Profit

- Much of the source of profit of large media companies are advertisements, this dependence on advertising explains why so much concern is expressed about ratings, circulation figures and views. 

-Advertisers will only advertise if there is a large audience to increase their likelihood of selling products.

- Bagdikian: a need for advertisers means news reports will be presented in a way as to not offend the advertisers, with some stories repressed or killed off altogether. 

- confirmed by Barnett and Seymour and Curran et al

- This leads to conservatism in media, which avoids too much criticism of the way society is organized, minority views are underrepresented. 

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Globalisation, New Technology and Citizen Journali

- New technology means news is instantly available from practically anywhere all day. 

- The mainstream news can no longer rely on the attention of audiences, as people are now tweeting, texting and surfing the web for news that interests them. 

- New media has created opportunities for citizen journalism, due to content shot on mobile phones being uploaded onto social media. People get information from this rather than traditional news reports. 

- Citizen journalism can help overcome the suppression of stories or biased news reports. 

- The GMG found that British television reports on Palestinians were overreliant on Israeli sources due to bias, however, Ashuri showed how citizen journalism can overcome such bias. Organisations such as Machsom Watch monitored the human rights of Palestinians.  

- Bivens: citizen journalism has led to greater accountability. 

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Organisational constraints

- People now expect to be able to access current news at all times, wherever they happen to be. 

- Social networking sites are now increasingly used to release and spread news stories on a global scale, and also to shape the reaction of others through commentaries.

- These changes place growing organisational pressures on news media, organisations have little alternative but to respond to this change, and journalists now often produce material first for the web.

- Competition means very tight time schedules to meet deadlines, which means that shortcuts to newsgathering may be necessary. 

- Getting the news story first, rather than getting it right. 

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-  People can only discuss and form opinions on the things that they know about. 

- This gives the media great control as what they choose to include or leave out of their content will influence the main topics that people discuss or are concerned about. 

- The process of laying down the topics that are going to be discussed is known as agenda-setting and is associated with the work of the GMG

- While the news media may not necessarily be successful in telling people what to think, they are stunningly successful in telling audiences what to think about. (Cohen). 

- The GMG claims that audiences have little choice in what news they receive. during the global banking crisis, 2008, the media channelled public anger towards the greed of bankers but focused public attention on solutions within the existing system, which caused the problem. 

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- The media's power to refuse to cover some stories and let others through is known as gatekeeping

- The GMG suggests that owners, editors and journalists construct the news by acting as gatekeepers, influencing what the public knows about. 

- Stories that may be damaging to the dominant ideology are not aired. 

- Journalists report on what is interesting, non-offensive and not threatening to existing society. 

-For example, welfare benefit fraud by the poor is widely reported, but not tax evasion performed by the rich. 

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- Norm-setting: describes the way the media emphasize and reinforce conformity to social norms, and seek to isolate those who do not conform by making them victims of unfavourable media reports.

- Norm-setting encourages conformist behaviour, such as not going on strike. Advertisement encourages gender role stereotypes of men and women.

- Discouraging non-conformist behaviour, through giving extensive and sensational treatment to stories about murder amongst other crime. Such stories, by emphasizing the serious consequences that follow breaking social norms, are giving lessons. 

- This is also achieved through media representations.

-This acts as a social control as they mean some events are simply not reported and brought to public attention, media defines what news is, what people should think about and what is and is not normal.

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Inaccurate Reporting and the Creation of Moral Pan

- Some stories may be false or bear inaccurate, partly due to the organizational pressures media companies face.

- Politicians often complain that they have been inaccurately quoted in the press.

- Making up stories, inventing details and exaggeration of events are used to make a story more interesting and to attract audiences. This is common in the mass-circulation "red-top" tabloid press. 

- Inaccurate stories can generate moral panics, which are waves of public concern about some exaggerated or imaginary threat to society. 

- These are generated around groups or activities which are defined as threatening to society or dominant values. 

- Cohen: Mods and Rockers youth subcultures in the 1960s. 

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Inaccurate Reporting and the Creation of Moral Pan

- Moral panics show the media's power to define what is normal and what is deviant and to reinforce a consensus around the core values of the dominant ideology, while at the same time making money. 

- How they start: the media expresses concern over something, exaggerating its significant drastically. This dramatisation coupled with false reporting and false evidence can create public anxiety towards that group, and encourage institutions to stamp down hard and take measures. Such action generates more deviant behaviour, this can make a minor issue much worse.

- Deviancy amplification: the way the media may actually make worse or create the very deviance they condemn by their exaggerated, sensationalised and distorted reporting of events and their presence at them. 

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Are Moral Panics Relevant?

- McRobbie and Thornton: suggest that media-generated moral panics are becoming less common, new media and constant rolling news reporting and intense competition have changed the reporting of and reactions to events that may have caused panics

- Pluralists and Postmodernists argue that due to the huge diversity of media reports and interpretations of events, and of opinions and reactions to these events by the public through citizen journalism, people are more sceptical of media. 

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News Values and Newsworthiness

- Journalists, and particularly editors, decide what it worth reporting. 

- Research has shown that journalists operate with values and assumptions which help them decide what is newsworthy and therefore worth reporting on, and how they choose to present this news. 

- News is made by journalists and is therefore arguably socially constructed. 

- Galtung and Ruge: newsworthy items included some of the news values, the idea of news values means that journalists tend to include and play upon aspects which make a story more newsworthy. 

- Some stories which are also likely to be reported on combine newsworthiness and an impression of immediacy; being present whilst events unfold. 

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The Activities of Journalists and Churnalism

- The GMG emphasizes the importance of the assumptions of journalists in forming content and suggesting their interpretations to audiences

- Becker: A hierarchy of credibility means. That greatest importance is attached by journalists to the views and opinions of those in power, like government ministers.

- Journalists tend to be somewhere in the moderate centre-ground of politics, and so ignore or treat unfavourably what they regard as extremist views. 

- The GMG points out that journalists tend to be white, middle-class men and share the interests and values of the dominant ideology. 

- Journalists perform their job and they are likely to keep their work as simple as possible, thus using the information provided by news agencies, spin doctors etc. without checking facts. This has been described as Churnalism

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- Churnalism: a form of journalism in which journalists produce news articles based on prepackaged material in press releases provided by sources such as government spin doctors without doing further research or checking the facts.

- Davies: 80% of stories in The Times, The Guardian, Daily Mail, amongst others, were based on second-hand material by news agencies

- Churnalism is linked to many of the issues in this topic. 

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Social Construction of the News

What factors contribute to the news being socially constructed? 

- Making a profit 

- Organizational pressures and time schedules 

- Assumptions and ideology of journalists 

- New media and citizen journalism 

- Inaccurate and false reporting 

- Hierarchy of credibility of journalists 

- Sensationalism and exaggeration

- Power of primary definers 

- Norm-setting, the direct influence of owners 

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Media Representations and Stereotyping

- Media representations are the categories and images that are used to present groups and activities to media audiences, which may influence the way we think about these groups and activities. 

- These often create or conform to stereotypes. 

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The Media Gaze

- The way men look at women like sexual objects, but it can also be used to describe a "media gaze" of the media establishment on society. 

- This gaze means that media content doesn't reflect the social diversity, but the perspective of the predominantly male, able-bodied, white upper and middle class who own the media. 

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Symbolic Annihilation

- Some groups are omitted, condemned or trivialized in the media, underrepresented or only appear in a limited number of roles. 

- Gerbner and Gross: referred to this as "Symbolic Annihilation".

- The GMG point out that stereotypes are formed within the context of the dominant ideology of society. 

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Representations of Age

The Representation of Children (under 14) 

- Kids as victims: children are portrayed as good kids led astray by bad influences, or as crime victims committed by others.

- Cute Kids: providing the feel-good factor in advertising and other stories.

- Little Devils: stories of evil children and young hooligans.

- Kids are Brilliant: children who excel in some way.

- Kids as Accessories: children are sued to somehow enhance their parents' image.

- Kids these Days!: stories which show adults' nostalgia for the past, with young people knowing more than parents did at their age, children corrupted by computers. 

- Little Angels: children who can do no wrong, endure a terrible illness with a smile. 

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Representations of Age

The Representation of the Youth 

- Subject to negative media stereotypes, frequently portrayed as a rebellious and selfish problem group in society. Especially the case with working-class males. 

- 2005 analysis of press conducted by MORI showed that the majority of stories about young people were negative. 

- Women in Journalism found that teenage boys frequently appeared in the media in relation to crime. 

- Representations are driven by media news values, sensationalisation of deviant behaviour.

- Cohen: young people are relatively powerless, easy to use as scapegoats - particularly African-Carribean Males - whipping up moral panics among the public against folk devils. 

- Stereotypes can be combated by young people through social media and devices of citizen journalism. 

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Representations of Age

Representation of Older People

- Those over 50 are typically either invisible in the media or portrayed negatively.

- Cuddy and Fiske: US TV portrayed just 1.5% of its characters as elderly, with most of them in minor roles.

- Older people are likely to be stereotyped negatively in the media, with old age being portrayed as an undesirable state. Being poor, ill, grumpy, stubborn, anti-social are common stereotypes. 

- Old men are more likely to be shown in a positive light as "wise old men" or as sexual partners of younger women in Hollywood movies.

- Older women face symbolic annihilation as, in media imagery, women are expected to be forever young and youthful. (White et al confirm this lack of representation on TV).

- However, representation may be changing due to the desire of media conglomerates to pursue the "grey pound". E.g. Dove Pro Age Campaign. 

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Representations of Social Class

General Features of Representations of Social Class

- The mainstream media gaze means representations of social class are filtered through the eyes of the rich and powerful owners. This results in more favourable stereotypes of the upper classes and their overrepresentation. 

- Jones: "We're all middle class now".Being middle-class norm or what one should aspire to, whilst the working-class are presented as abnormal.

- Class is presented as a lifestyle choice rather than an economic category. Lawler says "taste" is a symbol of class identity. The focus is on the individual rather than their social class. 

- News about the rich and famous is more likely to be reported than news involving working-class individuals.

- Different social classes face different representation. Weltman: working-class people are devalued in comparison to the middle class. 

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Representations of Social Class

Representations of the Working Class

- Generally under-represented in the media and stereotyped in negative ways, with their failings seen as arising from lack of conformity to middle-class norms. 

- As dumb and stupid buffoons (Butch): there is a persistent image of the working class as figures of fun, well-intentioned but flawed individuals. The sitcom, Royle Family illustrates this, through idiotic conversations. This reinforces the ideological hegemony of the dominant values. It also justifies existing patterns of inequality.

As a source of trouble and conflict. Often presented in the context of trouble, as undesirable welfare scoundrels, as lone-parents and as inadequates who can't control their delinquent children. Neo Marxists say that media is acting against groups that challenge dominant ideology.

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Representations of Social Class

Representations of the Working Class 2 

Idealized Working-Class Communities. Traditional working-class communities are praised and seen as hard-working and as heroes who overcome adversity. E.g in Eastenders and Call the Midwife. This imagery is praised however is no longer relevant, as such communities have largely disappeared with the decline in traditional industries like coal mining. 

Jones: romanticized imagery through the gaze of the middle-class. The 2000s, change in representation from patronized to despised. 

As white trash and scum, chavs and demonisation: Media stereotype of an underclass, where the working-class and the poor are merged. The term chav is commonly used. 

Lawler: the chav stereotype presents the working-class as worthless, disgusting etc. Secures middle-class sense of superiority

- Weltman: chav stereotype is used to devalue the working-class taste and culture. 

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Representations of Social Class

The Chav Stereotype 

-In the 2000s, the characters such as Vicky Pollard (in Little Britain) possess chav characteristics. 

- Documentaries such as. "Benefit Street" fuel the chav stereotype. 

- Media stereotypes encourage audiences to laugh at rather than understand the lives of those living in deprived communities, reinforcing the cultural hegemony of the dominant class and middle-class normality.

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Representations of Social Class

Representation of the Middle Class

- The middle-class is overrepresented in media content.

- The middle-class is presented in a positive light, as mature, sensible, educated and successful. 

- Middle-class families are well-functioning units and their taste is a norm that should be aspired to. 

- This positive portrayal combined with the demonization of the working-class is the product of the middle-class dominated media gaze. 

- These representations help to justify the current class structure and reinforce middle-class superiority. 

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Representations of Social Class

Representations of the Upper Class

- The most obvious representations of the upper class can be seen through coverage of the monarchy, such as gossip about royalty, royal visits and weddings. 

- Generally presented as "well-bred", cultured and superior. Although occasionally portrayed as eccentric or odd, the general image remains as respectable.

 - The Upper Class are often portrayed in romanticized and nostalgic ways through period dramas such as Downton Abbey.

- Lavish lifestyles provide media content for mass audiences. 

- Pluralists believe such coverage is simply giving the people what they want, however, Neo-Marxists see it as a celebration of hierarchy and promotes the dominant ideology, seeking to legitimize inequality. 

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Representations of Ethnicity

General Features of Representations of Ethnicity 

- Ethnic minorities are underrepresented in senior management of the media companies. Neo-Marxists like the GMG point out that representations are filtered through the gaze of predominantly white editors.

- Cumberbatch et al: just over one in seven roles are filled by a person from an ethnic minority background. This is slightly greater than their proportion of the population as a whole, however, Black African Carribeans are over-represented. 

- Ethnic minority interests and representations are ghettoized in the mainstream media, they are marginalized and featured mostly in specialized programmes on minority group issues. 

- Malik: African Caribbeans are more likely to be found in programmes dealing with social issues. music, sport, light entertainment rather than heavyweight roles such as political commentators. 

- Beattie et al: in advertising, black people were less likely than whites to be shown in professional roles. 

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Representations of Ethnicity

General Features of Representations of Ethnicity 

- Gill: a narrow range of representations of black women in the media. 

Naomi Campbell: "You've got to understand this business is about selling and blond and blue-eyed girls are what sells". 

- Minority ethnic viewers, especially Asian viewers, rarely see the reality of their lives or issues that concern them reflected on TV Channels. 

There is a form of symbolic annihilation of the main minority ethnic groups. media representations are also characterized by stereotyping. 

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Representations of Ethnicity

Media Stereotypes of Ethnicity 

- Black and Asians often face negative stereotypes and are used as scapegoats. 

- Hall: they are represented as cheating, cunning and capable of turning nasty and as a source of social problems.

- Cottle: black and Asian minorities are often represented in a limited and degrading range of ways. 

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Representations of Ethnicity

Media Stereotypes of Ethnicity 

- As deviants and law-breakers: represented in the context of drug-dealing, terrorism, welfare fraud and mugging.

-Hargrave: black people were more than twice as likely than white people to be portrayed as criminals. 

Mugging during the 1970s was exaggerated, fuelling the moral panic and folk devil of the black mugger.  

- As posing a threat: minorities are represented as possessing a culture which is seen as alien and a threat to British Culture. A kind of enemy within. Immigration is presented as a threat to British LIfe. 

As causing social problems, conflict and trouble: Linked to racial problems, ethnicity related riots. Often presented in the context of people with individual inadequacies. Asylum seekers are presented as economic migrants seeking work illegally.

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Representations of Ethnicity

Media Stereotypes of Ethnicity

- As having limited talents and skills: Minority ethnic groups are portrayed as having either few skills and talents or a narrow range of them. They are often shown in low paid work, in jobs like cleaning or as educational failures.

As having problems internationally: Developing countries are often portrayed as countries that are run chaotically, that live in famine conditions, that are always having tribal conflicts, civil wars and so on. Need white Western populations to solve their problems for them. The GMG found that coverage focused on disasters and terrorism, with little explanations. 

These stereotypes have also been applied to white people from Eastern Europe and countries close to Russia.

- Dowling: in the 2000s, Eastern Europeans were being blamed for being benefit scoundrels, causing a shortage of 50-pound notes, taking British Jobs. 

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Representations of Ethnicity

Islamophobia and the media: "Muslim" as a stigmatized identity

- Media coverage of the worldwide terrorist network of Al-Qaeda led to the stereotyping in the popular imagination of all Muslims as a threat to social values and public safety. 

- 91% of articles in national newspapers about Muslims were negative.

- Muslims have been demonized in mass media, and shown as threatening British values, for example, by oppressing women, such as by forcing them into wearing the hijab or burqas. 

- Media representations of Muslims generated a moral panic, with "Muslim" practically becoming a stigmatized identity. This created a moral panic of Islamophobia in the white community.

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Representations of Ethnicity

Explanations for Stereotyping of Ethnicity

- Pluralists see lack of ethnic representation in the media as simply providing audiences with what they want.

- Cottle: representations encourage audiences to construct a sense of their identity by defining who "we" are in relation to who "we" are not. 

- Neo Marxists such as the GMG point to the way negative media representations are created through the white eyes of the media establishment. Make ethnic minorities vulnerable to discriminations, white reinforcing hegemony and the dominant ideology. 

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Representations of Representations

Changing Stereotypes of Ethnicity? 

- Media stereotypes of black and other minority groups do appear to be changing.

- Appreciation of black culture has grown, more major black and Asian figures are appearing in music, arts and the media generally. 

- More media outlets targetted at black and Asian audiences. 

- We are seeing black and Asian actors moving into more popular dramas and soaps, Abercombie shows these changes in EastEnders. 

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Representation of Gender

General Features of Representations of Gender

- The Under-representation of Women in the Media Industry: women are under-represented in positions of power and influence in the management of the media industry, among other roles. 

The IWMF found that in UK news companies women are marginalized in news-rooms and decision-making hierarchies. Women face a glass ceiling, an invisible barrier of discrimination.

Women In Journalism 2012, 78% of front-page articles were written by men. 

The Male Gaze: Neo Marxists, Marxists Feminists and radical feminists point out how representations are filtered through the media gaze of the predominantly male-dominated media establishment. 

Mulvey: the male gaze, whereby men look at women as sexual objects, with images of women focusing on their physical appearance and sexuality, often in a way to provide ****** pleasure for men. 

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Representations of Gender

General Features of Representations of Gender

The under-representation and stereotyping of women in media content: Globally, women are the subjects of news stories far less often than men. When women were interviewed or appeared in news, they appeared as "ordinary people", whereas men were presented as experts. Women were also four times more likely to be identified by their family status. 

Cumberbatch et al: women appear on TV in the most popular shows less often than men, when they do, they are often conforming to gender stereotypes. 

Patriarchal ideology and the symbolic annihilation of women: Feminist writers suggest gender representations tend to be patriarchal and spread a patriarchal ideology. Tuchman et al's symbolic annihilation can be seen through underrepresentation, stereotypes, etc. 

Trivialization, omission and condemnation of women in the media.

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Representations of Gender

The Media and the Social Construction of Gender Differences 

- Connell: gender identities are in part constructed by the media reproducing culturally dominant stereotypes. 

- Media create and reinforce hegemonic gender stereotypes in a number of ways. 

- Wolf: advertising, in particular, promotes the "beauty myth". This is the idea that women are primarily assessed on a basis of appearance, and expected to conform to male ideals of beauty. 

- Tebbel: At no other time in history have women been so preoccupied with the shape they are in due to the constant media propaganda of the "ideal" body. 

- Real bodies have, in effect, been symbolically annihilated, instead of creating an idealized, youth-obsessed beauty cult with airbrushed versions of female beauty. 

- Children Now: female characters were severely underrepresented in video games, and the majority of female characters were scantily clad and highly sexualized. 

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Representations of Gender

The Media and the Social Construction of Gender Differences

- Male and female character riles and behaviours were frequently stereotyped, with males engaging in violence and females more likely to scream, be nurturing and dependent on men. 

Hegemonic Masculine Characteristics: 

aggression, physically strong, risk-taking, task orientated, competitiveness, ambition, sexual dominance, repression of emotion. 

Hegemonic Feminine Characteristics:

sexual passivity, expression of emotions, physically weak, gentle, dependent, lack of competitiveness, concerned with housework, appearance orientated.  

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Representations of Gender

Female Representations and Stereotypes

- Women in the media have traditionally been shown as young, pretty and sexually attractive. 

Stereotypes include:

The WAG: wives and girlfriends of men or the femme Fatales concerned with love, romance...

The Sex Object: slim, sexually seductive typically found in the red-top daily press (The Sun) or as objects of male fantasy in ***********.

The Supermum: the happy homemaker/part-time worker, primarily concerned with domesticity. 

The Angel: who is "good", displays little sexuality, and is sensitive and domesticated, she supports her man. 

The Ball Breaker: sexually active, strong, ambitious independent and career-minded. 

The Victim: in many horror and crime films, with men as both the cause of problems and hero. 

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Representations of Gender

The Cult of Feminity 

- Ferguson: teenage girls' magazines prepared girls for feminized adult roles, generating a cult of femininity.

- This cult included finding and keeping a partner, being a good wife, keeping family happy, what to wear, how to cook and so on.

- These magazines stereotyped girls into stereotyped values and roles. 

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Representations of Gender

Male Representations and Stereotypes 

- Men appear in a wider range of roles, often in the public sphere, and in a wide range of occupations. For example, as the boss rather than the assistant. 

- Gilmore: "the provider, the protector and the impregnator"

Stereotypes include: 

- The Joker: uses laughter to avoid displaying seriousness or emotion.      

 - The Jock: uses aggression to show power and to win approval of other men and admiration.  

 - The Strong Silent Type: in control, acts decisively, successful with women.

 - The Big Shot: economically and socially successful and has a high status.                                     

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Representations of Gender

Theoretical Explanations for Stereotyping: Pluralist

- Stereotyping occurs because that's what media audiences want.

- Media organizations are driven by the need to attract audiences to make money. 

- Stereotypes are a simple way of giving both the media audiences and the media conglomerates what they want. 

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Representations of Gender

Theoretical explanations for Gender Stereotyping: Liberal Feminists 

- Media representations are a product of the under representations of women in senior positions. 

- Male-dominated organizations encourage a male view of the world. 

- This will change as women gain more power and equal opportunities in media organizations, enabling them to break through the glass ceiling. 

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Representations of Gender

Theoretical explanations for Gender Stereotyping: Marxists and Marxist Feminists

- Media imagery is rooted in the need to make a profit. Media owners and producers need to attract audiences, and they need stereotypes to promote sales of all manner of cosmetics, fashion etc. 

- If audiences weren't persuaded to be concerned about these things, profits would decrease. 

- Marxist feminists and radical feminists share the view that gender representations are driven by patriarchal ideology, but they emphasize this in relation to class inequality.

- Reinforces women's sense of inadequacy and reasserts the hegemony of the normality of the male-dominated middle and upper class. 

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Representations of Gender

Theoretical Explanations for Gender Stereotyping: Radical Feminists 

- See media as representations as arising from the necessity to promote patriarchy and patriarchal ideology.

- The media world is a man's world, that seeks to keep women in a narrow range of stereotyped roles. 

- Keeps women subordinate to men, they believe the beauty myth and try to look good to satisfy the male gaze. 

- Media representations undermine any threats to male-dominated society and discourage women from taking the opportunities available to them.

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Are Media Stereotypes of Gender Changing?

- McRobbie: in Postmodern society, there is much flexibility and fluidity in regards to how men and women are represented. 

- Gauntlett: There is a growing social expectation that women are to be treated equally, which is increasingly reflected in the media.

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Are Media Stereotypes of Gender Changing?

Stereotypes of Women: 

- There is more emphasis on independence and sexual freedom.

- As the pluralist model predicts, new magazines now cater to working women, reflecting a change in female representations. 

- McRobbie: a new form of popular feminism has emerged, with teenage magazines promoting female assertiveness, being in control, enjoying sex, being confident. "Girl Power" is a part of popular culture. 

- Inness: In TV, women are being presented as tough girls, in roles such as detectives, confronting danger etc. Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games can be used as an example

- Knight: Points out that although features of female representation are changing, these changes are accompanied by underlying conventional feminity. 

They are not becoming masculinized and remain traditionally attractive, thereby conforming to the beauty myth and the male gaze.

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Are Media Stereotypes of Gender Changing?

Changing Representations of Males 

- Gauntlett: media portrayals of men are changing, with a wider range of representations of masculinity, opening opportunities to choose identities. 

- New identities include "Emo boy", the Metrosexual and the "New Man" who are more caring, sharing and emotional and more in touch with their feminine sides. 

- A further change can be seen in the transformation of male bodies into sex objects in advertising to sell things, similarly to the way women's bodies have been sexualized. 

- These changes reflect the growing concerns of men with issues such as appearance and sexual attractiveness. 

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Are Media Stereotypes of Gender Changing?

Explaining Changing Representations

- Changing representations are largely caused by the power of advertisers and the need to attract media audiences. 

- Women are becoming increasingly powerful in society and traditional stereotypes have ever less appeal and relevance to their lives, and the media need to maintain female audiences. 

- If the traditional media didn't adapt, women would increasingly opt-out of the traditional media, and use other forums such as Facebook. 

- Despite this, gender stereotypes continue to thrive in the media, particularly in the mass-circulation red-top tabloid press, advertising and music videos.

- Although new media technology offers opportunities to challenge representation, it has led to the exploitation of women as sex objects and as victims of sexual violence more extensively than ever.  

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Representations of Sexuality

Representations of Heterosexuality

- the dominant view of "normal sexuality" is that of heterosexuality.

- Sexuality (people's sexual characteristics and sexual behaviour)  has always been a central part of the hegemonic feminine stereotype, with women being defined by their sexual appeal. 

- Changing attitudes have increasingly meant that men are also seen as sexual objects. Naked men's bodies appear in the media and advertising on a greater scale than ever before. 

- McRobbie: Argues that men are beginning to face the same physical scrutiny as women had always had to put up with. 

- A new male stereotype has emerged: the metrosexual. These are heterosexual men who embrace their feminine side.  

- Women are still more likely to be seen as sex toys.

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Representations of Sexuality

Representations of Homosexuality

- The media are controlled by middle-class white predominantly heterosexual men, so the media representations are formed from the heterosexual gaze. 

- The fear of loss of profits if anyone is offended means that gays and lesbians have been traditionally treated as deviant and perverse. 

- Homosexual women are stereotyped as butch lesbians, and gay men as effeminate and camp, or sometimes as macho camp. 

- Homosexuals have been portrayed as marginal to society, as odd and colourful "camp" characters and figures of fun. Or as dangerous and violent psychopaths.

- These portrayals can be seen as representatives of news values.  

- This treatment of homosexuals meant the media tended to present distorted views of homosexuality, portraying it as a social threat. Sometimes generating moral panics e.g. During the Aids epidemic in the '80s, when it was referred to as the "gay plague". 

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Representations of Sexuality

The Symbolic Annihilation of Gay and Lesbian Sexuality

- Gross: The media have often symbolically annihilated gays by excluding them, trivializing, condemning or making fun of them. 

- Gauntlett: Although things are changing, gays and lesbians are still underrepresented or portrayed negatively in mainstream media. 

- Stonewall: In a study of the most popular TV Programmes, it was found that gays and lesbians were portrayed in less than 5% of the total programming studied.

- Cowan: almost a fifth of people think TV is responsible for anti-gay prejudice, in a study on the BBC, it was found that gay people were five times more likely to be portrayed negatively. 

- When gay and lesbian characters did appear in media, they are usually cast and defined in terms of their sexual orientation, rather than being characters who happen to be gay.

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Representations of Sexuality

Growing Tolerance, Changing Stereotypes and the "Pink Pound" 

- Although the media still underrepresents gays and lesbians, this is changing and there is growing acceptance and tolerance. 

- There is some evidence in traditional representations.

- Media companies have woken up to the fact that the lesbian and gay consumer market (Pink Pound) is large and affluent. 

- As pluralists would suggest, the media is beginning to respond to what gay and lesbian audiences want. 

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Representations of Sexuality

The Sanitization of Gay Sexuality: 

- Gill: Homosexuals are portrayed in a sanitized way so as not to offend audiences and advertisers. This explains why gay men are rarely portrayed in a sexual way. Instead, they are attractive and stylish figures in adverts and media designed to appeal to women. 

- Gill: Lesbians, on the other hand, are heavily sexualized in the media, which appeals to one of the oldest fantasies of heterosexual males. 

- This means that content appeals to homosexual markets doesn't offend audiences and advertisers and does not challenge heterosexual ideology. 

- Media thirst for stories around sexuality is now quenched by stories about paedophilia and the grooming of young children on the internet. 

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Representations of Disability

The Social Construction of Disability

- Disability refers to a physical or mental impairment which has effects on a person's ability to carry out day to day activity.

-An impairment is some loss, limitation or difference of functioning of the body or mind, either that one is born with or arising from injury or disease. 

- Disability is not caused by an impairment but is created by the interaction between people with impairments and society. 

- Shakespeare: Suggests that disability should be seen as a social construction, a problem created by attitudes rather than the state of one's body. Disability is created in relation to what society sees as normal.

- Whether someone is disabled or not is a social product. Most of us learn about disability through the socialization process, rather than personal experience. 

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Representations of Disability

The Symbolic Annihilation of Disability in the Media

- Around a quarter of all adults in the UK were covered by the Disability Discrimination Act definition of disability in 2011. 

- Disabled people are severely underrepresented in the media. 

- Cumberbatch et al: People portrayed as disabled represented just 2.5% of the television population.

- Ofcom: More than four in ten appearances of disabled people were in the context of programmes highlighting issues of prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping. 

- Sancho: A wheelchair is often used as an "icon" or a means of clearly showing someone as disabled. 

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Representations of Disability

Negative Representations of Disability 

GMG: There are fewer articles describing disabled people in sympathetic and deserving terms, particularly in relation to mental health. The proportion of articles linking disability to benefit fraud had doubled over five years. 

- Philo, GMG: Negative stereotypes also applied to people with mental health disabilities. They found that nearly half of programmes with mental illness storytimes portrayed it as a threat to others. 

- However, their 2014 study found that sitcoms are moving away from the "mad and bad" stereotype. 

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Representations of Disability

Media Stereotypes of Disability 

- Barnes: Showed how the vast majority of information about disability in books, films, on television and in the press is extremely negative. The following stereotypes were found: 

-As pitiable or pathetic: encourage pity in audiences, e.g. Children in Need.    

-As an object of violence: For example, victims of bullying.  

-As sinister or evil: For example, Frankenstein.  

-As laughable: Disabled people are shown as the village idiot.

 -As non-sexual: They are sexually dead, but there is the exception of the mentally ill sex pervert. 

- Cumberbatch and Negrine: Identified three broad categories of disability stereotypes in the cinema: the criminal, the subhuman and the powerless or pathetic character. 

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The Relationship between the Media and Audiences

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Methodological Problems of Researching Media Effec

- It's difficult to establish whether it is caused by the media or other social factors. 

- Hard to disentangle the effects of the media on audiences of things like violence from other factors influencing people such as social circumstances and individual experiences. 

- People interpret things in different ways based on prior experiences. 

- It is hard to establish which particular media cause alleged effects, for example, Facebook or Television. 

- It is impossible to establish what people's beliefs, values and behaviour might be without media input. Neo Marxists argue that the media encourages acceptance of the dominant ideology. 

- In a media-saturated society, most people are constantly exposed to the media. Therefore, we cannot compare does who have and haven't been exposed to media content. 

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Passive Audiences

The Hypodermic Syringe Model 

- This model suggests that the media act like a hypodermic syringe, injecting media texts into media audiences.

- Audiences are seen as unthinking, passive receivers of these tests, who cannot resist them.

- In this view, media messages fill audiences with the dominant ideology, sexist and racist images, violence and the audience immediately acts on this. 

- Dworkin: Radical feminist who suggests that it is like watching *********** and abusing women. 

- This model lies behind many moral panics, partly being used to explain the London and Tottenham Riots in 2011. 

- People react directly, as in copycat crimes or urban riots where people copy what they see in the media. 

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Passive Audiences

Criticisms of the Hypodermic Syringe Model 

- Assumes that audiences are passive and homogeneous, and will react the same way. However, based on social situations and experiences, people will react differently. 

- It assumes that audiences are passive, gullible and easily manipulated, but people are active thinkers, who use media for their own purposes. They have their own ideas and interpret content in various ways. 

- Overestimates the power of media agencies, ignoring all of the other factors of socialisation. 

- There is little evidence to suggest that media content has immediate effects on audiences. 

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Active Audiences

The Two-Step Flow Model 

- Katz and Lazarsfeld: Suggests that the media still has quite strong effects on audiences, but they do not passively accept all the information that they are told. 

- Audiences react to content in a variety of ways. 

- "Opinion Leaders" in the social networks influence interpretations. Opinion leaders are those respected members of any social group who get information and form views from the media, who lead opinion and discussion in their groups.

- In this model, opinion leaders select, interpret and filter media texts before they reach mass audiences, and form their opinions and interpretations of them.

- A chain reaction may start, where opinion leaders pass on reactions and their recipients may pass their opinions onto others. 

- Audiences are therefore influenced by mediated messages. Audiences are not isolated. 

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Active Audiences

Limitations of the Two-Step Flow Model 

- There are probably more than two steps in the media's influence. Content could be selected and interpreted by many different individuals in different groups. 

- It rests on the basic assumption that the influence of the media flows from the media to the audience, and assumes that media audiences are more or less victim to media content, not recognizing how people may form their own views. 

- It suggests that people are easily manipulated by opinion leaders, undermining individuality and individual thought completely. 

- It suggests the audience is divided into active viewers (opinion leaders) and passive viewers who are influenced by leaders. It doesn't explain why some people are directly influenced and others are not. 

- Due to new media and networking sites, opinion leaders may be less influential as people receive a diversity of mediated messages. 

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Active Audiences

The Cultural Effects Model - The Drip Drip Effect 

- This Neo-Marxist model suggests the media has an effect on people, however, audiences aren't passive consumers of text.

- Cultural Effects theory recognizes that the media are owned and heavily influenced by the most powerful groups in society and their interests influence media content.

- Although the media generally spreads the dominant ideology, it accepts that audiences interpret content in different ways based on social characteristics.

- Whilst most will agree with the content, others might be critical or even reject content. Women, for example, are likely to reject gender stereotypes. 

- Nevertheless, the media gradually influences the audience over time, a subtle brainwashing process shapes taken for granted common sense. Through this process, the dominant ideology is accepted. 

- There is debate over the extent to which the media influence audiences. 

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Active Audiences

Encoding / Decoding and Reception Analysis

- This is the analysis of how audiences receive and interpret media texts, and what effects they have on audiences. 

- Hall: Neo Marxist, media texts are "encoded" by those who produce them, they contain a particular intended meaning, which the media expects audiences to believe.

- This meaning is the dominant hegemonic viewpoint, which takes the dominant ideology for granted, accepting it as normal. 

- Most audiences will decode media texts containing this viewpoint in the way they were intended to. Other audiences may interpret these media texts differently based on them. 

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Active Audiences

Morley: How Audiences Decode and Interpret Media 

The preferred or dominant reading: Audiences decode texts in the way they were meant to, for example, they interpret the preferred view that most welfare benefit claimants are scroungers.

- A negotiated reading: They generally accept the preferred reading, but amend it to some extent. Like finding exceptions and fitting it to their own beliefs. They might accept most benefit claimants are scroungers but they may know some deserving cases. 

An Opposition reading: Audiences reject preferred reading, They reject the view that those on benefits are scroungers, they see their portrayal as a moral panic. 

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Active Audiences

Selective Filtering - An Interpretivist Approach

- Klapper: people have individual experiences and make choices. He suggests that there are three filters.

- Selective Exposure: People must first choose what they wish to read or watch and they may choose content that already fits their existing views.  They may refuse to watch programmes that expose benefit fraudsters. 

- Selective Perception: People will react differently to the same message, depending on whether or not it fits in with their own views or interests. 

Selective Retention: People will forget the material that is not in line with their views, and tend to only remember media images they agree with. 

- For example, the way people respond to election broadcasts, depending on which party they support. 

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Active Audiences

The Glasgow Media Group 

- They are critical of the suggestions that audiences can make their own readings or interpretations. 

- Philo accepts that audiences are active, however, he stresses that the media has a great deal of power in forming opinions and that most people accept dominant information unless they have alternatives. 

- While people can be critical, the media plays a key role in focusing attention through agenda-setting. This means that alternative sources often aren't available. 

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Active Audiences

Summary of the Cultural Effects Model:

- The power of the dominant class to influence content is recognized. Journalists transmit this dominant ideology. 

- Although there is generally a bias, it doesn't always have the same effect on audiences, as they actively interpret media content. 

- The way audiences respond to content is decided by a range of factors, such as social circumstance, personal experience, education and so on. 

- The media over time influence people's views and the way they think and behave, as they gradually accept the dominant hegemonic media view. 

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Active Audiences

Limitations of the Cultural Effects Model 

- Reception analysis and selective filtering exaggerate the role of audiences, Philo points out that the work of the GMG proves the influence of media in forming attitudes and beliefs. 

- It assumes media personnel like journalists work within the framework of the dominant ideology. Journalists do have independence and can be critical of the dominant ideology. 

- It suggests audiences can have control over their responses, but long-term socialisation only allows audiences to work within the framework already laid out by the media. 

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Active Audiences

Users and Gratifications Model 

- It looks at what audiences use the media for. The view starts with a view that media audiences are thinking, active and creative human beings who use the media in various ways for their won various pleasures and interests. 

- McQuail and Lull: the media is used for diversion in the form of entertainment, and for personal relationships, to keep up with family and friends, through identification with media communities like Eastenders.      

The media is also used for personal identity, through exploring interests and keeping up with trends. Surveillance through accessing information of interests. 

- The range of pleasures means that people make conscious choices, interpreting media in various ways. 

- Uses and gratifications are likely to vary from person to person. 

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Active Audiences

Limitations of the Uses and Gratifications Model 

- Overestimates the power of the audience to influence media content, whilst underestimating the power and influence of media companies to shape choices.

- Focuses too much on the use of the media and doesn't allow for group aspects of media audiences. 

- The focus on individual uses and gratifications ignores the wider social factors affecting the way audiences respond. 

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Violence and the Media

- Violence is now a part of popular culture, and more people are exposed to violence. 

- The new media means that violent imagery is found everywhere. 

- Digital technology means media violence is now interactive, so people not only consume media violence but they also take part in it. 

- There have been numerous moral panics regarding whether or not media violence causes violence in society. Especially following the murder of 2-year-old James Bulger by two 10-year olds. It was suspected that the movie, Child's Play 3, encouraged the actions.

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Violence and the Media

Some Competing Claims about the Effects of Violence in the Media 

Copycatting or Imitations: Exposure to media violence causes children to copy what they see and behave more aggressively in the real world. Badura et al, "Bobo Doll", demonstrates this. 

Catharsis: Media violence reduces real violence, allows people to be violent in a fantasy world. 

- Desensitization: Himmelweit and Newson have suggested that repeated exposure of children to violence has gradual "drip drip" long-term effects, socializing audiences into accepting violence as normal. 

Sensitization: Exposure to media violence can make people more sensitive to the consequences of violence and less tolerant of real-life violence.

Media violence causes psychological disturbance in some children: through causing nightmares, sleeplessness, anxiety and depression.

 - Exaggeration of the fear of violence: leads people to believe that we live in a violent society.

Gerbner: those exposed to more violence have a greater fear of it. 

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Violence and the Media

Methodological Problems of Researching Media Violence

- The problem of defining "media violence" in the first place. There are differences between scenes showing real-life violence between cartoon violence. 

- The hypodermic syringe model of media effects underlies much of the research, as it doesn't deal with interpretations and the context of the violence. 

- It is almost impossible to avoid the Hawthorne Effect. Gauntlett criticizes studies, claiming that people are likely to behave differently in real life. The presence of an observer is likely to affect behaviour, especially in the case of children.

- Laboratory experiments last a short time and are small scale, using samples, which raises questions of whether findings can be applied to the whole population. 

-It's difficult to separate the effects of violent media imagery from other possible causes of reactions. 

- It's almost impossible to find a group that hasn't mean exposed to media violence. 

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The New Media

- This refers to screen-based, digital technology involving the integration of images, text and sound. 

- Traditional or "Old" media involve devices for different media content, like radios to listen to music, television to watch TV shows. 

- Jenkins: the process of technological convergence, bringing together multiple media in the same device has led to a much more significant process of cultural convergence, whereby consumers are encouraged to seek out and share new information and make connections between dispersed contents from a range of media.

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Features of the New Media

- Lister et al suggest a number of features that distinguish the new media. 

Digitality: where all data are converted into binary code, which can be stored and picked up via screen-based products. 

Interactivity: Consumers engage or interact with a variety of media, creating their own material.

- Jenkins suggests that this has created a participatory culture where the public does not only act as a consumer but also as contributors or producers of media content.  

There is also collective intelligence where users of the new media collaborate and share knowledge, resources and skills to build group intelligence. 

- Hypertextuality: Links which form a web of connections to other bits of information, which give users a way of searching, interacting with and customizing media. 

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Features of the New Media

- Dispersal: New media have become less centralized, more adapted to individual choices with a huge growth of media products and a part of everyday life. People and not just media professionals can make content. 

- Virtuality: The various ways people can now immerse themselves in wholly unreal interactive experiences in virtual worlds or create completely new identities. 

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Who Uses the New Media

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Social Class Inequalities

-Middle and upper classes are the biggest users of the new media, as they can easily afford it. 

- 65% of those who are not online are in the bottom two social classes. 

- Dutton and Blank: internet users remain disproportionately likely to be young, well educated and wealthy. 

- There is evidence of a digital divide, which is the gap between people with effective access to information via the new media and those who lack such access. 

- Helsper: a digital underclass is forming, with those who have lover education and no employment lagging far behind other groups in their access to the internet.  

- This social class difference extends to all areas of the media. 

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Age Differences

- Boyle: younger people have grown up with the latest developments in the new media and are well versed in it. 

- Those aged 16-24 are over ten times more likely to go online via mobile than those aged 55+.

- Jones: While young people have the highest levels of access and use, around 10% of youth from disadvantaged backgrounds are likely to be relatively infrequent internet users. 

- Ofcom found young people compared to older people are: greater internet users, spend more time online, more likely to have the internet at home,  more likely to use a smartphone, more confident in using new media, more likely to use the internet for fun. 

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Gender Differences


- Games consoles and tablet computers are more popular among males, but e-readers are more popular among women. Women spend slightly more time on social media. 

- Men spend up to three times more time watching videos online. 

- There is a higher take-up of smartphones among men.

- Li and Kirup: men are more likely to have a positive attitude towards the media, more likely to use emails and chatrooms and were less likely to use the internet to study. 

- Women students underestimated their computer abilities and internet. 

- Wome regards the internet more as a tool rather than as the toy for personal fun and pleasure that men do. 

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Location, and the Global Digital Divide

- The most significant digital divide in terms of location is that between the information-rich and information-poor countries, and the existence of a global underclass.

- The new media is most heavily used in the Western world. Many of those living in the world's poorest countries lack access due to poverty, and they lack the resources to build digital networks. 

- Additionally, private businesses won't provide them as there aren't enough customers who can pay. 

- The language also poses a barrier as about 85% of websites are in English. 

- 3.2 billion people use the internet, only about 45% of the world's population. Europe and North America made up 28% of users, even though they only make up 16% of the world's population. 

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Changes Influencing Traditional Media

- Cheaper, more mobile and widely accessible digital technologies, such as smartphones.

- Technologies expanding live coverage, such as mobile phone picture and video recording at the scenes of events, and their transmissions to new organisations. 

- Use of the new media to form the content of the traditional media, with newspapers and TV using the internet, including the blogosphere and citizen journalism for ideas and research.

- Online criticisms of mainstream news output. 

- The development of online newsrooms in traditional media.

-Engagement with the interactive aspects of the new media, such as email, social networks and online feedback on traditional media articles. 

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The Effects of Changes on Traditional Media

- Bivens: changes to the media have led to significant changes in the traditional journalism of the old media

Shifts in traditional news flow cycles: News production depends on a flow of reports of newsworthy items from sources, due to citizen journalism there has been a huge increase in the quantity of information and increased speed of flow of news. Journalists have less time to process the news. 

Heightened accountability: Citizen journalism ahs made old media more accountable as their reports are scrutinized by the public. News organisations are now more aware of their accountability to audiences and often use their related websites to offer transparency and accountability. 

Evolving news values: In the highly competitive media market, all media need to give people the impression that they are on top of everything that's happening, news values may be changing as traditional media are incorporating non-professional material. 

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The Reduced Power of Ownership

McNair: The new media have meant that elite groups have less power over agendas. Top-down control of owners, managers and so on is replaced by cultural chaos, more anarchy, disruption, openness and diversity. 

- Citizen journalists have a growing influence on what news is reported, which undermines the influence of media owners. 

- Philo: agenda setting means the media can influence what we do not think about, by removing issues from public discussion. 

- However, citizen journalism has a rising capacity to shape traditional news agendas, These online reports have the potential to reach global audiences and the traditional media cannot afford to ignore newsworthy items. 

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Changing Relationship with Media Audiences

- The new media have forced traditional media to be more accountable and responsive to their audience, allowing interacting feedback and complaints. 

- New media are increasingly becoming the preferred choice of readers and viewers to consume news. 

- In 2015, the launching of Apple News. 

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The Neohiliac View of the New Media

- More informed consumers, wider choices and more user participation: In 2015, there were about 172 million active websites. Consumers now access a wide range of information, complaints and reviews. 

Greater democracy: Neophiliacs argue that the new media has given more power to people.

McNair: "Information, like knowledge, is power", he argues the internet means can set up and maintain a blog or websites, which can be visited by anyone. This means greater opportunities to report and comment. A lot of people express their views through Twitter.

Protests and campaigning websites have enabled to protest groups to reach worldwide audiences and have promoted a culture of questioning and accountability.      

 Web 2.0 has become a tool to mobilize people to fight against oppressive regimes worldwide.

New media played a crucial part in the "Arab Spring", a series of uprisings.

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The Neohiliac View of the New Media

More access to all kinds of information: Social media sites enable news and information form a variety of sources to reach wide audiences. For example, people are able to gain information about their health conditions through websites like NHS Choices. 

The world becomes a global village: The digital media has caused the collapse of space and time barriers between human interactions. This has created a global village in which the new media promotes cultural diversity, national barriers are reduced and people are brought closer together, promoting greater acceptance. 

Social life and interaction are enhanced: Postmodernists see the new media as enabling people to share in globalized cultures and build and shape new identities. People can create relationships beyond their location. People can stay in touch via email, Facebook and so on.  

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The Cultural Pessimist View of the Media

 - Problems of validity: It's difficult to know whether reports are true and whether photos are real. Whilst footage of aggression may raise attention to oppressive regimes, it's hard to know whether the footage is genuine. 

- Cultural and media imperialism: The new media and the internet have led to the imposition on non-Western cultures of Western cultures and values. This undermines local values and traditions. 

- The power of unelected commercial companies: the sovereigns of cyberspace: The power of commercial companies increases as the internet becomes more important. This poses a threat to democracy.

MacKinnon: "sovereigns of cyberspace" is used to describe the power of giant multinational corporations like Apple to control internet access, social networking etc. These companies hold power over us that was once held by governments. 

- Google has the power to render any website effectively invisible by blocking it in its search engine. 

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The Cultural Pessimist View of the Media

Censorship and control: MacKinnon shows how some undemocratic, repressive regimes like those in China, monitor and control new media use. Media faces government censorship and surveillance. For examples, China's social networks are heavily censored as not to cause political problems. Western governments are increasingly using such surveillance technology.    

Although it is claimed that the new media increases choice and democracy, most media is in line with the dominant ideology. 

- Lack of regulation: The global nature of the new media means that there are no regulations like Ofcom. This means bias, crime, ***********, drug smuggling, paedophilia, human trafficking among other crimes occur.                

In 2014, ISIS could use new media to conduct a high tec media holy war. 

Commercialization and limited consumer choice: There is no real increase in choice, and what is available is of poorer-quality and undergoes tabloidization. Celebrity culture has replaced serious programming. 

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The Cultural Pessimist View of the Media

Increasing surveillance: There are endless ways of how the new media has operated to increase social control. In 2012, a woman was jailed for twenty-one weeks for racially aggravated harassment after she was filmed on a mobile phone.  

Surveillance techniques can also be used by those with the power to monitor and control social protestors. 

The undermining of human relationships and communities: There is increased social isolation, with people losing the ability to communicate in the real world. People are spending less time conversing with family and friends. 

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