Dangers posed by lack of diversity and representation in the mainstream media’s coverage

One of the talking points among the intelligentsia is the dangers posed by lack of diversity and representation in the mainstream media’s coverage, especially that of Television. This situation gives rise to production of news content that serves the interests of select media elite. This concentration of power in the hands of large media conglomerates makes it easy for them to set the political agenda on the national scale. It is no surprise then that the issues that they cover are infested with their personal biases, prejudices and interests. The general public, made helpless by this system, are presented a narrow political agenda that holds no real significance for them. In other words, while the Television media has the power to elicit a policy response from the government, the outcomes tend to benefit the media elite rather than people. (Potter, 2006, p.69)

Added to this imbalance of power between the media and its consumers is the relative lack of alternative sources of information for the latter. A majority of Americans depend on the mainstream media for information on the political developments of their country and the world. With lack of alternative representation in the media, a distorted world view can be imposed upon an unsuspecting viewer. That is the American public is steadily losing confidence in mainstream media, presumably because of the general public’s realization of the biases inherent in its organization. The theory that the media sets the agenda for government policies is weakened by the fact that news coverage is generally superfluous and that their main source of information is the government agencies themselves. When seen in light of this knowledge, we see one basic flawed argument that the media significantly influences public opinion. To the contrary, it is the government, which perpetrates its bureaucratic interests by exploiting the opportunities provided by the media. (Burrell, 2000, p.148)

Ideology as a sociological term has been interpreted in many different ways. But the following is an approximate definition of the term: Any system of beliefs, values and habits that are based on a particular political or religious school of thought. Media in general and Television in particular has always been used to propagate ideologies. Although the word “ideology” has come to carry negative connotations, the propagated ideas need not necessarily detrimental to the well-being of the audience. A very good example of this positive use of ideology is the British government run propaganda machinery during the First World War. As the strength of the British army grew weak in confronting an imposing German hostility, the military administration had to resort to Conscription as a means of restoring its strength. But a glimpse at the history of Television media in the backdrop of public administration and consumerism will show that the positive application of ideological propaganda is an exception than the rule. (Frisby, 2002, p.58)

Almost every known media type is susceptible to ideological undercurrents, whether as a result of design or accident. The Television as a medium of communication and entertainment allows sophisticated application of ideological persuasion. It has to be remembered that television is a product of the twentieth century. The centuries prior to its invention were not devoid of prevalent ideologies or their imposition on the masses. However, the imposition of the desired set of beliefs and habits were achieved through brute force. These centuries saw colonialism at its peak; and where imperialism existed violence followed. But the twentieth century is different in that empires were giving way to independent republics, especially after the Second World War. (Burrell, 2000, p.148)

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