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Posts Tagged ‘news’

Mary Richards and Newsroom Sexism

In media, women's rights on May 12, 2010 at 11:07 pm
 
When Mary Richards asked Lou Grant if she didn’t get a promotion because she was a woman, Lou Grant unapologetically replied “Yes.” The 1970s show poked fun at the very serious subject of sexism in the newsroom. But more than 30 years later, a still gender-biased media is no laughing matter.
 

To be sure, women have made major strides in the predominately male field. But 20 minutes spent watching the evening news and one begins to wonder if mainstream media still operates under the “good-old boys club” pretense.

From FOX to CNN, women are either portrayed as sexy bimbos or serious bitches. Take, for example, FOX News. The network boast an impressive list of female co-anchors and guest commentators — most of which are beautiful and blonde. Apparently, everything, from these women’s skirt-lengths to their hair lengths, makes them unmarketable as hosts.

Of course, there are a few female hosts such as Greta Van Susteren and Rachel Maddow who command their own shows. But notice how these women are marketed: Short hair, masculine attire and zero sex appeal. The message is clear: To be taken seriously, a woman must become a man.

According to the Women’s Media Center, women hold only 3 percent of clout positions in the mainstream media.

In the words of feminist founding mother Gloria Steinem, “Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke.”
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Agenda Setters and Gatekeepers: How Mainstream Media Controls Information

In media on April 28, 2010 at 11:39 pm

“Information is the currency of democracy.”

The quote is attributed to both founding father Thomas Jefferson and political activist Ralph Nader. Regardless of who said it, the statement is a profound one.

In a America, citizens are assured the news offers differing viewpoints. From FOX News to MSNBC, most viewers are convinced they are getting both “sides” to a story. But are they really?

The truth is, mainstream media is controlled by a tightly knit group of corporations. The “big six,” as they are sometimes described, consist of General Electric, Time Warner, Walt Disney, News Corp, Viacom and CBS. Together, these mega-corporations make up and control virtually all mainstream news.

Notice how, when switching between “conservative” and “liberal” mainstream networks, topics covered and facts reported are almost always the same. The perceived difference in bias convinces viewers their source of choice is somehow independent.

Not only does the mainstream media serve as gatekeepers of public information, it also sets the agenda for other news sources. Foreign and local media find themselves marching to the beat set by the “big six.” As a result, massive amounts of information go unreported to the public. Mainstream decides for all what, how much, and the manner in which the news is reported.

But a powerful weapon has emerged in recent years able to counteract big media. The internet has provided the individual with a plethora of opinions and an explosion of information. Free Press accurately describes the World Wide Web as offering “hope” to the public:

“The internet is radically changing the way most everyone experiences media. It could become the central nervous system of a healthy democracy — the greatest engine for free speech, civic engagement, and economic growth ever known. It may be our last, best hope to make an end-run around the traditional media gatekeepers.”

Also see The Nation’s interactive list of “The Big Ten.”