Assessment of the Claim that Media Texts Reproduce Racist Ideologies
The Mass Media plays an important role in social and cultural
ideologies and can easily change them through time.
“British Broadcasting literally mediates the politics of race,
ethnicity and cultural identity.” Hall (1988:257) The Mass Media can
shape representations and people’s ideologies about ethnic minorities
in either a positive or negative way.
The media instigates the communication of dominant ideologies and can
sustain them. It can also challenge them. There are counter-hegemonic
ideologies among oppressed groups such as ethnic minorities that the
public are exposed to. With repeated exposure, racism seems “normal”
to those who engage in such disclosure.
To analyse racism in the media, we must first operationalise the
concepts and determine what racism is. Racism is a social system of
ethnic and racial inequalities. In the media, various levels of
discourse may be involved in the emphasis of negative beliefs about
immigrants and minorities and thus contributes to the ideologies of
Racism is “not biologically inferior, but a means of different
culture.” D’Souza (1995).
This inequality in power and status between ethnic and cultural groups
can be expressed, enacted and confirmed by media discourses such as
newspapers. Media discourse is the main source of people’s knowledge
and it’s primarily discursive and symbolic. The media tends to “serve
to maintain relations of domination.” Devereux (1998:13) Media
coverage tends to problematize minorities and a large number of
studies, for example Gomes and Williams (1991) confirm this.
“News provides facts first but at the same time the primary opinions –
usually those of authorities or white elites”. Devereux (1998:13)
Articles contain the opinions of media professionals in the Western
World and therefore, their objectivity needs to be observed when
analysing print media.
Most approaches to racism in the media are largely content analytical.
They are qualitative studies of stereotypical words or images
representing ethnic minorities.
To analyse the language in the media, I extracted articles from
different newspapers including tabloids, broadsheets and local
newspapers, over a period of a month. I wanted to systematically and
objectively identify specified characteristics of racist messages
within the text.
I also wanted to analyse the syntactic form of sentences and overall
organisation of the article in relation to racism. The analysis of
dominant and other ideologies within mass media “needs to pay
sufficient attention to the content and structure of texts and
crucially the meaning of texts have for audiences.” Thompson (1990:60)
I also wanted to make inference about the effects of these messages on
the recipients. I...