Media Bias and Ideologies - Free Paper Example

Published: 2023-12-25
Media Bias and Ideologies - Free Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Media Society Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1853 words
16 min read

Project Censored, arguably a liberal informative platform has done a commendable job in highlighting what they call; The News That Didn't Make the News. These are collected informative items that do not receive substantial media exposé or coverage. In effect, this has served to expose considerable evidence of media bias, especially the news outlets in shaping the viewer perception or pushing a particular ideology to the masses. A specific item on Project Censored that is interesting is the limited coverage of Modern Slavery in the United States (US) and around the world. According to Reed (2019), the 2018 Global Slavery Index revealed that about 403, 000persons in the US lived in conditions that qualified as modern slavery. Furthermore, the Index also revealed that an estimated 40.3 million persons qualified as modern-day slaves in 2016, a majority of whom were women at 71 percent, and North Korea had the largest number of modern-day slaves.

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This arguably central social issue, however, did not receive considerable media coverage. Besides the Guardian article, the New York Times, CNN, and CBS News had limited coverage of this subject (Reed, 2019). The Times, for instance, emphasized the case of a Columbia University student who was formerly a North Korean slave. However, it avoided detailing the prevalent modern-day slavery in the US and instead left it to the later paragraphs (Reed, 2019). CBS News, on the other hand, focused on the index report that the US is doing better than other nations in addressing modern-day slavery. In contrast, CNN News emphasized the information that the US was leading globally in addressing forced labor in the supply chain.

Media is arguably one of if not the most powerful tools in society. It is powerful in the sense that it is influential in shaping, promoting, or undermining particular perspectives and ideologies within communities. It is substantially influential on social ideologies mainly due to the fact that it is arguably the central avenue through which the ideologies are churned out to the masses. Media scholars, according to Croteau and Hoynes (2003), believe that media widely influence our way of seeing the world. Media material defines our world and models what is deemed as proper attitudes and behaviorism through the contextual depiction of certain ideologies. For instance, media products will portray what should be the appropriate role of males and females, or it would define success or actions that qualify as criminal (Croteau & Hoynes, 2003). Prominent people, especially politicians, have often viewed the media as the core for disseminating ideologies and even at times have criticized it as a source or promoter of social ills. For instance, the US presidential candidate Bush during the 2000 campaign trail, heaped blame on the dark dungeons of evil on the internet for school violence (Croteau & Hoynes, 2013). In essence, therefore, media is fundamentally central to the birth, survival, or death of ideologies.

Ideologies in the context of media, as Croteau and Hoynes (2003), are the images and thematic issues that the media feeds its consumers. Principally, it is a system of meaning that aims to hypothesize and explain the world and then shape that world through value judgment. Dyer (2016), argues that the pervasive media contents, archetypical of a hidden control, are now the core ideologies through which we interpret and reflect ourselves, and the world, and shape our existence. Instrumental thematic issues such as lesbianism, occultism, and religion in societies have been redressed or advanced through media content from movies, music, and debates over the decades.

According to Dyer, Hollywood films have been contextualized with the motive to splinter the psyche of the consumer, often packed with a thematic agenda strategically embedded to propagate a particular ideology. Orson Welles, as quoted by Dyer (2016), argues that:

The camera is much more than a recording apparatus; it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world that is not ours, and that brings us to the heart of a great secret. Here magic begins.

Yet as much as the media is an instrumental item through which ideologies have been churned out to the masses in society, it has also been criticized for biases on how it transmits ideologies and perceptions to the consumer. In several contexts, both entertainment and news-wise. The media, especially, news outlets, some quarters argue, influence a person's vision of the world through reconstruction and calculated filtration of the content they report to the viewer. Gentzkow and Shapiro (2006), for instance, highlight media bias in reporting a particular modern-day thematic issue, casualties of war. The manner in which each news outlet reported a specific incident of the American war in Iraq is arguable and was choreographed to influence the viewer's opinion.

The selectivity of how the words are articulated is arguably to advance a certain ideology to a target audience. At the back of a battle at Samara in Iraq, popular news houses Fox News and the New York Times reported the incidences of the battle with a view one could argue was fashioned to remind the world of the military prowess and dominance of the US over its adversaries. On the other hand, however, the English-language website of Al Jazeera, a satellite network, reported evidence conflicting with those of the news mentioned above outlets (Gentzkow & Shapiro, 2006). The context in which the website constructs its evidence, one could argue was influenced to discredit the American military power, while at the same time painting it in light of inhumanly villainous towards helpless civilians.

Mullainathan and Shleifer (2002), argued that media bias is basically in two categories. First, ideology bias, which they defined as a news outlet’s urge to influence the consumer’s perception in a certain direction. Secondly, they described spin bias, which is efforts by outlets to construct a memorable story. Competition between media houses, according to Mullainathan and Shleifer (2002), was the leading cause of spin bias. It, however, was responsible for the diminishing of ideological bias.

Nonetheless, there is a continued broad consensus that media outlets do not report straight facts and that often, their reporting is a precalculated articulation. During the impeachment trial for President Clinton, for instance, the right-oriented media in favor of the impeachment propounded the ideology that a lie, however, in the smallest capacity, in a civil deposition amounts to a serious crime. However, other media outlets in dissent of the impeachment advanced that the process was a witch-hunt (Mullainathan & Shleifer, 2002). The articulation of a newspaper headline can shape a reader's perspective on a particular item. The item represented in value form may be the financial health of a firm or the character of a political figure. The methodology of representing a news item will shape the reader's bias, ideology, and beliefs about the truth of the world. For instance, the manner in which the conservative media house reported the Wen Ho Lee, alleged Chinese spy case, would have formed an ideology on an American reader that the Chinese are likely to be spying on the US (Xiang & Sarvay, 2007).

Based on the above arguments and reflecting on the Project's uncensored story, it is arguable that a critical thematic issue in contemporary society was underreported by influential and popular news media. It is because slavery is widely perceived as one of those if not the most regressive social indulgences today. Popular, scholarly, and political debates have expressed considerable disquiet on the topic of slavery, yet in recent modern-day slavery still thrives. In particular, the recent has continued to witness an unrelenting surge in human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery. Young women, especially, are being exploited and trafficked in the multi-billion-dollar sex industry (Chrismas, 2017). The women undergo grueling ordeals, sometimes physically abused or murdered by their predators. Otherwise, the victims are exploited for forced labor, child pornography, illegal, organ adoptions, among other unwelcoming inhuman acts. Buckwalter et at. (2005), argue that human trafficking and modern-day slavery is not entirely a third-world ordeal rather it is a worldwide ordeal taking place right in the backyard of developed and liberal countries like the US. According to the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 persons are trafficked into the US yearly making the nation the third-largest destination country worldwide for victims of human trafficking (Buckwalter, 2005).

These pieces of evidence compel that the issue of modern-day slavery should be discussed without a slight trace of prejudice and that reports on such concerning the social issue should be made without altered perspectives by the media. When one reflects on the reporting patterns of CBS News and CNN on the 2018 Global Slavery Index, however, it is arguable that there was a considerable underrepresentation of the topic. It can be argued that CBS contextualized its reporting to advance the ideology that slavery had no place in contemporary American society or that CNN had calculated its report to portray the US as a nation that was at the forefront in fighting for liberalism in society today.

The manner in which the 2018 Global Slavery Index and the Samara battle stories were reported by arguably some of the most popular media outlets seemed to conflict with established interests. According to Croteau and Hoynes (2003), principality asserts that media content should be free of bias, selectivity, and calculations to shape ideologies that are potentially archetypical of control. Yet how CNN and CBS News focused on the modern-day slavery story seems to conflict with this ideational core in almost every sense. The arguable ideological prejudice in the reporting one can argue had a correlation with objectivity, hegemony, and established interests. It had a connection with objectivity in the sense that a possible powerful quarter in the US had its reputation for protecting in the eye of the masses. However, detailing the facts of modern-day slavery would undermine this reputation or bring the parties under tight public scrutiny. Therefore, the media houses had to calculate their articulation of the news to safeguard this reputation. The reporting of the Samara battle, on the other hand, has close ties with hegemony. The story, as presented by Fox News and CNN, one could argue, had the goal to highlight the authoritative power of the US worldwide.


As seen from numerous pieces of evidence, it is convincing to state that media is a very powerful instrument in society. Its contextualization has a huge influence on the viewer and shapes the perception of the world and its ideals. Using its influence as a springboard, the media has continued to assert its power over the ideology of the masses, sometimes with an intentional bias. It continues to be a conflict ground for ideologies and culture. Thus, the way the media chooses to present an ideology goes a long way to shaping the consumers' perception of the world. Its contents are the very lens through which we come to refute or embrace particular cultures, beliefs, and idealisms of the world, albeit sometimes it is never the reflection of the world in its entirety, but rather a small group of persons who have the interest to protect, a group of whom can be the political elite, a lobby group or the media outlets itself. In conclusion, the influence of the media cannot be undermined.

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