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The Way The Media Influence Our Lives

Are we influenced by the media, if yes how much? Sociologist and Psychologist contemplate that question often. The media has been accused of causing violent behavior, negative racial stereotyping and negative body perceptions mostly among young girls. No one can deny that the media has an effect on society, but is the media just giving society what he or she wants? Has the media taken away our ability to think for ourselves critically? We are constantly feed information from the newspapers, television news and weekly news magazines most of us believing without question because we believe the source credible.

In 1989 while jogging in central park a women was brutally attacked raped and beaten. ” I remember the incident well because it was all over the news, in papers and magazines for months. Five teens Hispanic and African American were accused of the crime. I remember the newspaper articles and reporters on television referring to the teens as an angry wolf pack. The word allegedly was absent form all conversation over the incident. The media convicted the teens before the trail began. I believe because of all the negative exposure from the media the teens didn’t have a snowballs chance in hell.

All five of the boy were convicted and served time for the attack on the central park jogger. Thirteen years later, a man named Matias Reyes who was not related to the crime at all is now coming forward from behind bars and saying, “you know what, by the way, I’m the one who did it. And the five teenagers who served time, they didn’t do it. ” And the DNA that was taken from the victim’s body at the time of the attack matches Reyes. Reyes also confessed to an identical crime two days earlier in the same area of the park.

The lawyers who defended the teenagers are now saying “we were never told about a lone, Predatory rapist prowling that same area of the park just days before the jogger was attacked. ” The police and the prosecutors may have withheld that information so that they could expedite the conviction of the teens as they sometimes do. I still believe that the media despite of the limited evidence help in the conviction of five youth. The media depicted the teens, as angry mobs and wolf packs constantly to the public this is not an isolated incident the media does all the time.

In fact judges and attorneys are blaming the media for destroying a person’s right to a fair trail by polluting the jury pools. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance A. Ito, who presided over the O. J. Simpson case, stated ” the zealous media, from East Coast Establishment newspapers to supermarket tabloids to reality television programs, produce such a distorted picture of a accused before they come to trial that no impartial jury can be selected. ” Reporter Saltzman wrote an article in U. S. A today magazine to answer the criticism.

He wrote, ” All the media do is throw out great gobs of information, some important, some trivial, some in bad taste, some unnecessary, some vital. ” If all the media did was to report such information there wouldn’t be so many fingers pointing at them. The media today is accused of everything from racial stereotyping to perpetuating violence. Yes the media should just inform, but people with all our bias and life experience write the news and report the news. People with all of our secret angers and frustrations own the newspapers and news stations and people have the last word in what will be reported and how it is reported.

With that in mind be aware that bias, life experience, secret angers and frustrations are also being reported. Society believes what they read in black and white sometimes without question. Society trust in what is being said to them by the familiar face on the 5 O’clock and the 11 O’clock news. When we read of a violent crime in the newspapers while on our way to work. When we hear of a violent crime being reported to us while setting in front of our television set. We want to believe the suspect being held is guilty without contemplating all the facts. Society should then ask is the media just giving us what we want.

Some 98% of U. S. households have at least one television set (Meyrowitz, 1995) and the TV is on for over seven hours each day in the average U. S. household (Harless, 1990). The dominant American leisure activity is watching TV (Schwartz. 1990). Knowing these facts the question is does the media just give the public what they think we want? Are we the public being unfair blaming the media for violence in our society? On April 20th, 1999 in Littleton, Colorado the school day was interrupted by blasts of gunfire when two young men began shooting at fellow students.

They were armed with automatic-weapons and explosive. When it was all over they had claim as many as 25 lives, including their own. They left at least 20 people injured student and teacher included. The week before the Columbine shooting only three news shows were ranked in the top 20 slots of the Nielsen ratings. During the week of the incident, five news shows were ranked in the top 10 and another four in the top 20. When the shooting ceased and people began to look for answers the public turned their fingers to the same medium they had just spent days glued to.

The public claimed the two shooters at columbine high school acted under the influence of a violent mass media newspaper, television shows and the Internet. (Lucas, 2000). We can’t wait until an incident like columbine happen to point fingers at the media. The public has to say were not looking for violence we want the news period. To an extent the media is giving us what we want if violence didn’t grab the attention of the public it wouldn’t be so popular. Violence is popular in the music we listen to and in the television shows we watch the movies we rent and go to the theaters to see.

Last week on the front page of the New York daily New and the New York Post was a picture of a women who was stab to death. The sheet that was covering her was drenched in blood. When I got to work almost all of my co-workers had a copy those of use who didn’t barrowed the paper to read the article. Violence peek our curiosity, there is abundant evidence that the public are interested in violence this is not a new thing this country was build on it. In a study people were shown either violent or non-violent films for four days. A few days later, they participated in what they thought was an unrelated study of emotions.

In this study, research assistants acted abusively toward some of the subjects. Later, when they were put in apposition to retaliate, both those who had been provoked and those who had been exposed to violent films (but not provoked) showed an increase in hostile behavior. Although men were more aggressive than women overall, exposure to violent films influenced the behavior of both sexes equally. (Miller, Michael Craig). Although some research can link violent behavior directly to the media our society crave violence in movies music and in newspapers.

Should the media be more responsible when entertaining the public? As for the movies television and music the argument can always be if you don’t like it don’t go to see it or simply change the channel. That would set well with adult’s argument, but how about children. The media often states that parents should regulate what their children are watching on television and what music they are listening to. In and age where there are more single parent households and latchkey kids I believe the media also has to be more responsible as to what type of programming is assessable to children between certain hours.

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