The Opportunities, Challenges, and Power of Media and Information: Media controversies
Stereotyping is defined as the process of labelling an entire group of people according to the characteristics of some. The media have been found guilty of stereotyping multiple times. As a form of communication that deals with the general public, it is not hard to see why the media is prone to generalization. Although there is an obvious improvement in the number of stereotype in the media, the following still remain a subject of much controversy.
Gender roles: The alpha-male or the depiction of the heterosexual male as superior to the other gender is still ever present in most media content. It seems that countless protests from feminist movements and the LGBT (Lesbian, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders) community have done little to eradicates sexist element in the media.
Racial discrimination: The Caucasian is at the top of the social class ladder. Black people slavery may have been long gone, but media’s tendency to favour whites in lead roles and giving sidekick role to other people of colour raises racial discrimination allegations.
Conflict of Interest
Journalism professor Adam Peneberg (2007) defined conflict of interest as situations in which there are competing professional, personal and/or financial obligations or interests that compete with the journalist’s obligation to his outlet and audience.
Peneberg listed the following as potential conflicts of interest.
1. Writing about friends and family members
2. Press junkets trips offered to journalists that are paid for by the entities the reporters cover, i. e., movie studios, electronics companies, government agencies.
3. Accepting hospitality: Overindulging on the subject’s hospitability
5. Free tickets, copies of books, CDs, DVDs and access to subscription-only websites to be reviewed, written about, or used as background material
6. Paying sources: Compensating sources for information undermine content integrity
7. Quid pro quo: Promising something in return.
8. Investments: Any financial entanglement with the subjects
9. Political and charitable donations: The objectivity of the reporter will be questioned if he covers and writes about organizations which he donated money to.
10. Blogs: Writing blogs raises ethical concerns and credibility issues since it is considered personal and opinion based on content.
Accountability is defined as taking responsibility for one’s actions. It is at the core of media ethics. Bernard, (2000) in his book entitled Media Ethics and Accountability Systems, he explained that a person in the media is accountable to one’s self, towards peers, towards sources, towards people involved in the news, towards media users, and towards the community where they operate. Media accountability involves self-regulation by remembering and respecting those who they are accountable to in their work.
Philip Steele (1999) defines censorship as any attempt to limit or prevent the free exchange of information. It suppresses information, ideas, or artistic expression. The State University of Oklahoma enumerated the following as forms of censorship.
1. Preventive – exercised before the expression is made public. Examples of which includes government restrains, licensing, and self-censorship.
2. Punitive – exercised after expression is made public. This type of censorship is penalizing in nature
3. Taboo – is censorship of that which society deems inappropriate or offensive.