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Media and Poverty Essay

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Carlos Lyons Lyons 1 Ryan Weldon ENGLISH 201 10-25-2012 Media and Poverty The effect media has on modern society is enormous. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that something as simple as one person reading a newspaper, watching news, or going out to the movie theater to watch a current Hollywood Blockbuster, can can influence society as a whole. Media can target society as a whole or isolate a certain sector of society. In this review I would like to focus on one sector of society, the bottom end of the economic classes, the poor. I would like to analyze the erception society has of the poor and its connection to the media. In this day and age, media has taken many different forms to expand even further its ability inform, connect, and entertain the masses. The two main types of media that will be my focus are, text and digital productions. Both types of media have increased in scope and exposure frequency with the rise in popularity of the internet and electronic mobile devices. Digital productions make new kinds of production possible, such as blogging and other multimedia applications. Another advantage of digital production is that people have larger ommunicative possibilities by using the Internet to interact with wider audiences than had been possible before. These new kinds of media complement existing media, advertising, popular literature, media’s reporting of social issues (Sefton-Green 283). The media frames social issues in certain way, telling the audience what is important to know about and how to think about it. The media can frame questions of responsibility, leading the audience to determine the causes of and solution for social problems. There are three main factors that the media uses to frame social issues (Kim and Carvalho and Davis 563-565).

First, social norms and cultural Lyons 2 values can effect the way an issue is framed. The media tends to portray society as fundamentally sound, blaming most social problems to irresponsible individuals. Problems are considered as personal in nature and disassociated from larger social factors. Second, Organizational pressures are also another factor. Media firms are large for-profit organizations who profit from very large audiences. A journalist might consider what frame would attract large audiences, instead of a frame more fitting the context of certain issues.

And the third factor that builds frame is the pressures from interest groups. Interest groups seek to use the media as tools to establish certain frames of reference to construct public opinion. Journalists often adopt and incorporate the frames advocated by interest groups into their news coverage. News media presents issues in an easy to understand format which neglects certain underlying issues that have a higher level of complexity. In some instances the media establishes a framework of, “perceived reality”( L. W. Jeffres et al. 107).

Not just the frame the media uses is important, but the media’s influence differs across demographics, and social and economic classes. Baohua Zhou claims in his article, New Media Use and Subjective Social Status, that this varying effect of the media is evidence of social subjectivness. The social subjectivness theory states that some sectors of society are more influenced by media than other sectors of society. Research has shown this subjectivness is directly related to economic classes. Sectors of society that in higher economic tiers are more prone to the influences of the media, than the lower economic tiers.

This makes sense because these new digital production devices are expensive, and not everybody can afford them. Thus those who have money can access more types media than those without it. The expansion of new media, including the Internet and modern cell phones, has created a social gap, those who have the economic opportunity and technological proficiency, and those who don’t. Media are agents of socialization, distributing collective thought (L. W. Jeffres et al. 104). He states people’s behaviors are learns through observation and modeling, therefore exposure to media Lyons 3 leads to the formation of social stereotypes.

The collateral learning that occurs through media use leads to the development of images that lie the foundations for stereotypes. These stereotypes can manifest into public perceptions. In Armando Barrientos’ and Daniel Neff’s article, Attitudes to Chronic Poverty in the ‘Global Village’, the majority of respondents perceived that there is little chance of escape from poverty, thus perceiving poverty as chronic. The remaining respondents believe poverty is more transient in nature. Regardless of the level of development in their own countries, respondents show a consistent attitude toward the chronic poverty paradigm.

In their East Asia research, 67. 5% of the respondents attribute the existence of chronic poverty to personal failings on the part of the poor, this contradicts the “Global Village”, which attributes chronic poverty to society’s unfair treatment. The respondents were equally divided into three groups when asked the causes of poverty: lack of effort on the part of the poor, circumstantial opportunity, and a combination of the two. In their research they found that respondents who have arrived at an understanding of poverty which attributes its causes in structural factors, are more likely to perceive poverty as chronic.

In contrast respondents who understand poverty as arising from luck, or personal effort, are more likely to perceive poverty as more transient in nature. Also a negative connection exists between life satisfaction and chronic poverty. The more satisfied people are with their lives, the less likely it is that they will perceive poverty as chronic. Their main finding was that the majority view of the “Global Village”is that chronic poverty is the norm. One sector of poverty I would like to mention is the homeless.

In Solina Richter’s article, Newspaper Coverage of Homeless, she groups newspaper coverage of homeless into four major themes: housing related issues (27%) , community aid and support (21. 4%), profiling of homelessness and homeless people (20. 1%), and economic factors (16. 8%). It is interesting to note that only 16. 8% of the articles addressed economic factors such as government cutbacks, government spending/aid, and Lyons 4 economic factors as cause. The corporate form of newspaper organization has raised concerns about the quality and diversity of information shared with die public.

Richter argued that the “economic imperatives of newspaper operation are incompatible with the goals of free and democratic speech. Many scholars believe that the corporate form of organizing a newspaper destroys good journalism and endangers democracy. The increased competition for both audience and advertisers drives newspapers increasingly toward business profitability rather than public service. She also states that homelessness is not an individual characteristic, but rather a life circumstance that can be temporary, episodic or relatively long lasting.

Richter’s literature is an examination of the media’s interests in and portrayal of the homeless and homelessness issues, which provides an indication of what might be expected from the media during specific political, social, and economic events that could impact on the homeless or their situations. Such expectations might also provide opportunities for service providers and governments to utilize the media to convey key messages and awareness about the issues and needs of the homeless generally or in specific communities.

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