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Genetic Engineering And The Media Essay

1754 words - 7 pages

Genetic engineering and its related fields have stimulated an extremely controversial scientific debate about cloning for the last decade.  With such a wide range of public opinions, it is hard to find any middle ground.  Some feel that improving the genes of future children will help mankind make a major evolutionary step forward.  Others agree that there could be dangerous unforeseen consequences in our genetic futures if we proceed with such endeavors.  A third group warns that the expense of genetic enhancement will further separate the wealthy from the poor and create a super race.  Popular magazines and the Internet are two of the major arenas in which this debate has been hotly contested.  Both of these media sources are utilized by a wide range of audiences, and thus present a wide range of arguments.  However, because of their audiences, magazines tend to be more moderate in their opinions and in their presentation of information, while Internet sources tend to vary in their opinions as well as the information provided.

 

             Depending on the magazine, the opinions of authors can be liberal, conservative, or anywhere in between.  However, almost all mainstream publications place limits on how far left or right the opinions will reach.  After a certain point, the magazine's potential audience begins to decrease rapidly and will not generate enough income to make a profit.  Therefore, the most popular magazines (i.e. TIME, Newsweek) seek to present the most popular opinions.  Some mainstream magazines extend to the far left (Sierra) or right (National Review), but they have a limited audience.  In the interest of making a profit, marketing strategy is simply an issue of supply and demand.  Thus, when these popular magazines present controversies such as genetic enhancement, they typically remain neutral or lean only a little in either direction.  Feature articles and cover stories are usually the most neutral of all articles in order to maximize the number of interested readers. 

 

Some expression of opinion, however, may be valuable to readers.  If people just wanted the news, they could read The Christian Scientist Monitor every morning, which prides itself on providing non-opinionated news as a public service (Canham, 1958).  But The Christian Scientist Monitor is not any more popular than other forms of mainstream media.  People apparently do prefer some opinion in the articles they read.  As a result, feature articles often have secondary editorials that offer the opinions of outside experts.  For example, an article in TIME entitled, "Smart Genes?" (Lemonick, 1999) is relatively neutral in its stance towards increasing intelligence through gene enhancement.  In fact, the two articles after it "If We Have It, Do We Use It" (Gibbs, 1999) and "Elixirs for Your Memory" (Drummond, 1999), are also both neutral.  They simply present the two sides of the argument and let the reader decide what is best.  The fourth...

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