Language and media

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  • Publicado : 22 de noviembre de 2009
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Language and Media

Thesis Statement: Print Media in the USA and Europe reinforces racism through language use.

I. Introduction:

Racism has always existed throughout human history. It may be defined as the hatred of one person by another or the belief that another person is less than human, because of skin color, language, customs, place of birth or any factor that supposedly revealsthe basic nature of that person. Nowadays, contemporary forms of racism are different from the racism of slavery, segregation, apartheid, lynchings, and systematic discrimination, of white superiority feelings, and of explicit derogation in public discourse and everyday conversation. Scholars call this type of violent racism the ‘old racism’. The “new racism”, is a different kind of racism, whichis not overt or physical abusing but which is subtle and indirect. Yet, if we assume that racism is not innate but learned, it must be learned during the social practices that have most impact on most people, that is, public discourse in general, and political and media discourse, in particular as well as on the everyday conversations that in turn are derived from this public discourse. That is,racist practices, cognition and discourse are intimately related: we learn our prejudices largely through text and talk, first from our parents and friends, then from textbooks, television, and the newspaper, that is, from the symbolic elites: teachers, journalists, writers and politicians. The question then is which of these discourses are dominant in society. Extensive international research ofthe last decade has unambiguously shown that the ‘white’ press in general is part of the problem of racism, rather than part of its solution, especially because press media uses language to reinforce people’s bad perception and ideas of minorities and other races.

II. Supporting Statements:
1st supporting statement:
Ethnic minority groups tend to be represented in the media in stereotypical,and sometimes even in blatantly racist terms. Most of the topics developed in the press tend to focus on immigration problems, crime and violence, ethnic relations (discrimination), etc. Figures show that these topics, both in Europe and in North America, today as well as twenty years ago, are indeed usually part of the top five of the frequency and size statistics of press reports aboutminorities. With similar research results of several other scholars, we may conclude from such frequency and size analyses that minorities remain associated with a very limited number of stereotypical themes that seem to dominate the ethnic attitudes of white journalists, as well as their interpretation of ethnic events. At the same time, such topics are often newsworthy because they are generallyconsistent witch the news values of negativity and conflict. Indeed, news about minorities essentially remains news about problems, and in some cases even news about threats (demographic, economic, financial, cultural or social), as is also the case in the topics of everyday conversation.

Topics that are relevant for minority groups themselves, e.g., racism, unemployment, social welfare, education andthe arts, get less attention. Even potentially neutral topics, such as immigration, housing, employment or cultural immigration, soon tend to have a negative dimension: immigration may be topicalized as a threat, and most ethnic relations represented in terms of problems and deviance if not as a threat as well, most typically so in news about crime, drugs and violence minorities are associatedwith. On the other hand, many topics that are also part of ethnic affairs occur much less in the news, such as migrants leaving the country, the contributions of immigrant workers to the economy, everyday life of minority communities, and specially also discrimination and racism against minorities. Since topics express the most important information of a text, and in news are further signalled by...
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