[Type text] Vanek, Paper #2 Abigail Vanek October 13, 2010 Communications/Media Ethics – COMM415 Paper #2 Everyone is entitled to Their Opinion In today’s world of easily accessible media, unbiased journalism is extremely difficult to come by. Every person whether they are aware of it or not, is affected by the media. Every person is also biased in some way or another. We are biased because of many different factors. Most of these factors are things we cannot control, such as our gender, race or the socio- economic class we grew up in. Our parents also play a large role in shaping our views on the world. If a person is a male Caucasian born into a wealthy family, they are to see the world differently than an underprivileged African American female. These types of bias undoubtedly stretch into the media and affect how different people portray certain news events. One of the main factors affecting a person’s bias is their gender. Gender is something that we cannot control; you are either born a man or a woman. From the very first day of our lives our gender affects whether our parents will dress us in blues or pinks and how they act towards us. Boys will often be viewed as tough and strong while girls are seen as sweet and innocent. Gender has greatly affected our education system. Women have been involved in a 300 year fight against gender bias until 1767, when a school in Rhode Island advertised that it would teach reading and writing to women (Owens 1). Many cities began to divide schools with boys and girls on separate floors and later same sex schools came about. And finally in 1972 Congress added Title IX to the Education Amendment stating: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational programs or activity receiving federal assistance" (Owens [Type text] Vanek, Paper #2 1). According to Owens, in 1994, women received 38 percent of the medical degrees, compared with 9 percent in 1972; 43 percent of the law degrees, compared with 7 percent in 1972; and 44 percent of all doctoral degrees, compared to 25 percent in 1977. Women still struggle with the fact that men are taken more seriously than women. Even though women have come a long way they still must prove themselves so their voice can be heard. This graph shows that the gender gap increases in higher grades. And I found it very interesting that males have always had a higher percent compared to woman in the area of mathematics. Table 1 - Computer use at home and at work, by gender (1989 and 1994) 1989 1994 Male Female Male Female Percent who have a home computer 18% 15% 30% 25% Mean number of hours spent using home computer 6.7 5.4 7.1 5.3 Percent who use a computer at work 31% 38% 43% 52% Mean number of hours spent using work computer 13.1 17.3 16.2 19.1 N, home computer use: 1989, Males=4,201, Females=5,132; 1994, Males=5,271, Females=6,380.N, work-place computer use: 1989, Males=2,978, Females=2,679; 1994, Males=3,325, Females=2,970. Source: General Social Survey 1989 (Cycle 4: Education and Work) and 1994 (Cycle 9: Education, Work, and Retirement). [Type text] Vanek, Paper #2 Do women see themselves accurately reflected on television, in film, in advertising, and in print and broadcast news? No they do not because only 3% of media decision-makers - those with enough clout to determine content - are female, according to Linda Lowen. Women have to be very careful of the decisions they make while communicating in the media because there is much more pressure on them to succeed than there is on men. This is an example of how the media industry can be biased. Since women only control 3% of what is being communicated through the media, clearly there is going to be a certain level of male-geared stories portrayed. This does not necessarily mean that all stories told through the media are about things that only men will be interested in. However, it is another example of an opportunity for journalism to be biased. Another factor that affects the way we communicate is our socio-economic status. People in lower socio-economic status groups do not have as much access to education, media, and technology. Since lower socio-economic status groups lack many resources their overall opinions and the decisions they make are different from those with more opportunities. For example, when they vote for the Presidential Election; lower socio-economic groups do not have the knowledge as others with more access to the media. People of lower socio-economic status communicate from a biased stand point based upon their life experiences. Another factor that affects our outlook on the world that we cannot control is our race and ethnicity. In America minorities continue to face many hardships on their battle to equality. Caucasians might feel entitled to more of the opportunities that America has to offer, while minorities still struggle to prove themselves. According to the Washington Post, more than six in 10 African Americans now rate race relations as "not so good" or "poor," while 53 percent of [Type text] Vanek, Paper #2 whites hold more positive views. This is an ongoing issue in the society that we live in and even though slow progress is being made there still is much effort needed to minimize the race bias. A recent story in the media was Republican Christine O’Donnell who is currently running for US Senate in Delaware. A story broke last month regarding O’Donnell’s “dabbling in witchcraft”. There was a clip from 1999 where O’Donnell was a guest on “Politically Incorrect” hosted by Bill Maher. In the video clip, O’Donnell says she “dabbled in witchcraft but never joined a coven”. She admitted to hanging around “witches”. I took the time to compare the views of Democrats and Republicans on this issue. Fox News Channel (FNC) has the slogan that the news they report on is ‘Fair & Balanced’ however they tend to lean conservatively. One of its news channel counterparts, Cable News Network (CNN) is known to be more liberal in its bias. For example, both networks reported on Christine O’Donnell, while FNC seemed to defend her and CNN chastised her actions as another example of corrupt Republicans. I grew up in a middle class family as a female and that has been a major factor in molding me into the person I am today. I had opportunities to educate myself in Catholic schooling and through life experiences I have formed my own opinions and developed my personal biased language. While many people communicate and share similar thoughts and ideas, the overall opinion of every person is their own. Your bias is much like your fingerprint it is impossible to share the exact same opinions of another person. [Type text] Vanek, Paper #2 There are many factors that shape who we are and how we think. I feel that gender, socio-economic status, and race are three of the most important uncontrollable factors. Even if someone believes they are being unbiased and stating the facts through communication there is no way for them to control their personal opinions. It is possible to alter the way you report a story but every person will always have their personal view. [Type text] Vanek, Paper #2 Abigail Vanek Paper #2 Bibliography Cohen, Jon, and Jennifer Agiest. "3 in 10 Americans Admit to Race Bias." The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company, n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2010. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/21/ AR2008062101825.html>. Grier, Peter. "Latest challenge facing Christine O'Donnell: Witchcraft TV Clip." Christian Science Monitor 20 Sept. 2010: n. pag. Web. 8 Oct. 2010. <http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/The-Vote/2010/0920/ Latest-challenge-facing-Christine-O-Donnell-witchcraft-TV-clip>. Lowen, Linda. "Gender Bias and Its Impact on Education, Business, Politics and Society." About.com. The New York Times Publisher, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2010. <http://womensissues.about.com/od/intheworkplace/u/GenderBias.htm#s2>. Owens, Sherry Lynn, Bobbie C Smothers, and Fannye E. Love. "Are Girls Victims of Gender Bias in our Nation's Schools?" BNET. CBS News, 2010. Web. 10 Oct. 2010. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FCG/is_2_30/ai_105478982/ ?tag=content;col1>.
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