Race and Media Book Review

Excerpt from Book Review :

Race and Media

Larson, Stephanie Greco. (2006). Media & Minorities: The Politics of Race in News and Entertainment. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Print.

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States guarantees, among other rights, that Americans will have the right to free speech. It is based on the premise of this right that there is also a free press in the U.S., and solidifies the fact that they are able to report without any fear of repercussion from an oppressive government. Unfortunately, this does not guarantee that everything that the media does will be unbiased. Many cases can be put forward that demonstrate this, but in the book Media & Minorities: The Politics of Race in News and Entertainment Stephanie Greco Larson looks at how the free media has treated racial diversity in the United States.

The basic premise of the book is that both the news and entertainment media have been biased for the entire history of the U.S. In the conclusion to the book, she makes the three points that the media's "representation of race serves to protect the racial hierarchy in America…[that] there is more similarity than difference in the ways that the media represents the four racial-minority groups…[and that] there are similarities between how racial minorities are represented in news and entertainment" (268). This thesis is well-supported by research documentation and practical example, but it is difficult to say that the author proves her point. As a matter of fact, a truly unbiased reader of this biased writer would say that she does not prove her contention.

From the very beginnings of the work, the author has a very strict idea of what is and is not bias and racial inequality. She does cite research to back her statements, but all of the evidence she gives is antiquated. There is a small acknowledgement in the conclusion in which she agrees that she has used old examples, but she also tries to explain this away.

The structure of the book shows the completeness with which studied the topic and the effort she made to make a solid argument, and she also looks at all phases of media, but generalizes by splitting it into two manageable divisions -- news and entertainment. She states that "Entertainment media, as well as news, teach us about society by repeatedly showing us certain types of people in certain types of roles" (14). Because she believes that it is important to examine how "the four minority groups" have been portrayed in all types of media Larson looks first at entertainment, then the news in papers, electronic media and as it pertains to candidates. During this review one of her main issues is that minorities are underrepresented in the mainstream media in all facets. She says that "The racial status quo is one of inequality with whites at the top of the racial hierarchy. Racial minorities are underrepresented in government, education and corporations; they are overrepresented among the poor and in prison populations" (2). Again, this is a statement that she often repeats and seeks to justify with evidence.

Her examples come from the world of so-called "reality" television, film and television, news coverage of minorities, and the coverage of candidates for political office. She actually makes many god points while trying to prove her overall conclusion. In one instance she says,

"…racial minorities often appear in crime stories. This suggests or reinforces the idea that minorities are dangerous to whites. Even when acting within the law, racial minorities have been treated as threatening and suspect in American society and the media's coverage of it" (82), which is true. The fact that many times crime shows show a minority as the perpetrator (especially black or Hispanic individuals) is well stated in her evidence. But she counters this with statements such as "Media coverage of campaigns focuses on style over substance, strategy over ideals, and people over processes…Candidates who are actually outsiders, not just campaigning as such, are given less and worse coverage than insiders" (196), which are seem more opinionated and have less to do with the broader topic.

It is easy to see the strengths of what the author is trying to do. The book is obviously well-researched due to…

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