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Lecture 15

Lecture Fifteen: Media and Ideology

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McMaster University
David Young

Media Media and Ideology: The Critical Perspective and Ideological Analysis of Mass Media October 28, 2013 – November 8, 2013 Review of Theoretical Perspectives • Emile Durkheim o Structural Functionalism (Talcott Parsons)  The Functionalist Perspective on the Institution of Mass Media (Harold Lasswell and Charles Wright) • Karl Marx o Neo-Marxism  The Critical Perspective on the Institution of Mass Media • Political Economy: a theoretical approach that focuses on political and economic factors which shape the production and distribution of media content • Cultural Studies: a theoretical approach that focuses on the ideological factors which shape media content and interpretation of this of this content by audiences Some Issues in Critical Cultural Studies • Builds on neo-Marxism beyond class inequality • Dominant Ideology: refers to the interests and viewpoints of powerful classes and groups in society o Takes various forms: capitalist ideology, patriarchal ideology and racist ideology o Reflects and reinforces the position of a powerful class or group (the capitalist class, men and whites) • Media representation o Because of the existence of the dominant ideology and the way it gets woven into media texts, we will see poor media representation of a less powerful class or group (e.g. the working class, women and minorities) • Media audiences o There are different ways to interpret this dominant ideology embedded in media texts Analysis of Ideology in News Media • Balance and Objectivity in News Media o Scholars on both the left and the right of the political spectrum argue that while balance exists, the news media are not objective o Conservative scholars see one type of ideology emerging in the news media o Critical scholars see another type of ideology emerging in the news media o Both scholars agree there is ideology, but they do not agree on the type of ideology The Conservative Perspective on Ideology in News Media • Conservative scholars argue that the news media have a left liberal bias which runs counter to the way that most people in society see things • They argue that this left liberal bias operates in two particular ways: 1. The news media have an anti-corporate bias and are critical of market oriented solutions to social problems 2. The news media give greater or more favourable attention to the views of interest groups that have liberal or left wing political views (e.g. trade unions, environmentalist groups or social welfare organizations) • Problems with the notion of a left liberal bias o The conservative perspective under plays the institutional constraints within which journalists do their work  Advertisers are capitalists, therefore are conservative  Would they want to have their products to be associated with left leaning? No, they would be interested in content that is business friendly and provides a nice fit with their product o The conservative perspective ignores the heavy presence of conservative views in news coverage The Critical Perspective on Ideology in News Media • Defining the News o Immediacy  News focuses on what is immediate  What is happening right now? What is the new word on the street?  As a result, the news media focuses on the present  Example: News coverage of strikes – there is a lot of focus on the effects and the coverage deals with the effects of the strikes in a particular way – how the public is inconvenienced • The ideological message is that strikes are bad and they inconvenience people – reflects the dominant ideology • Capitalists think that strikes are ba
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