The Drastic Change In The Moral Compass Of Media In Social Objectivity
Tess N. Hyre
This paper focuses on the ethical issues that face the media with both past and present examples that explain where the media is today. Through scholarly articles and media examples to help highlight the defect in the media’s moral compass, this paper will help exemplify why ethics are important to address the main concerns viewers and media employees have. By breaking down media ethics through female broadcasters, specifically sports broadcasters, racism and the rise in concern through African Americans and Caucasians, and the social objectivity that the media uses to exploit both issues, good or bad, it will allow readers to have a better understanding for where ethics started and where they are today.
The Drastic Change In Ethical Beliefs Of Media
In today’s given age, society revolves around controversy. The media often forgets about the ethical morals and values that were once placed in all aspects of media. Which in turn can be associated with social subjectivities that surround us. How we as humans are expected to act, through race, religion, and gender, we are living in social subjectivity. Even with job occupations. We are expected to act a certain way, almost like stereotypes, however they are the new social norm and quite real in today’s given age. How we act is embedded into our brains from the moment we are born, which leads to the moral compass through ethics we are “expected” to think and act, versus how the media has “made” people think and act.
Ethics in media is broken down just like any other corporate job. It is broken down internally within the office, externally outside of the office but still on the clock, and how the worker is respected outside of the work environment within their inner circle. However, with media and television, there is another factor that is within the business and that is how the audience sees and respects the worker.
Take sports as an example. A sport was, and still is, a male dominated field. Female sport reporters are ones that are constantly scrutinized for wanting to be equally treated as male sport reporters. The moment women entered the sports world women became a social objectivity. Much of the controversy over female reporters for sports began in 1977 for the World Series of Major League Baseball. The reporter’s name was Melissa Ludtke. She was prohibited from entering the locker room, which led to a lawsuit that went into the hands of a U.S. Federal judge that granted reporters (male or female) to enter the locker room (Carlson, 2010). Once women were granted the right to go into the locker room, their journey did not end there. In 1979 another female sports reporter, Michele Himmelberg, was harassed by other male reporters when trying to do her job at the Minnesota Vikings game. In 1980, reporter Lisa Olsen was verbally abused and as a result of this, players of the New England Patriots were fined, the general manager was fired for lying about the scandal in the locker room, and it led to death threats for the manager of the team (Carlson, 2010). These female reports have paved the way for the 21st century female sports reporters. Today women do not suffer the kind of harassment and embarrassment reporters back then did. However, it is still difficult to become a female sports reporter.
Female reporters are still scrutinized today, but not in the way they were back in the late 1990s. Appearance is a big-ticket item for women in sports. For example, Erin Andrews is one of the most well-known female sports reporters in today’s date. However, many of people would not know who she is if she were not known for her appearance. In 2008, Mike Nadal from GateHouse News Service judged Andrews on how she carried herself and basically said she was flirting with the players rather than doing her job (Rand, 2008). Carlson stresses the importance of knowing that the hardship for women is not over yet by writing:
“Women in sports media today may not face such extreme circumstances, but the harassment continues. There are demeaning comments. There are misogynistic jokes. Sometimes those words or actions may not even be directed to a specific female reporter, but they still create a hostile work environment (Carlson, 2010).”
Therefore, the journey and hardship of women in sports is not yet over, but it has improved throughout the years. Respectively people are mentally trained to be respective, most of the time, and ethically sound but when one puts a force of some sort, a woman in this case, it changes the dynamic for how one is to act through the media. This then leaves women in social objectivity by emphasizing that a woman is reporting for sports and not a man and quite frankly, are highlighted by doing a great job covering sports. Nonetheless, females have seen some improvements in the media, but there has been a downward spiral for race.
A prime example of this is racism in today’s society. By definition racism is, prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior (Oxford Dictionary, 2016). Caucasians of the early generations have developed the connotation that racism only forms between African Americans and Caucasians and have carried that mentality to today’s generation, but sadly that is not the case. However, that is what the media portrays for viewers to observe and take in. Therefore, African Americans and Caucasians are often divided in all forms of media, specifically music and violence.
Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, and Beyoncé are all artists who emphasize racial issues in America through media outlets. Beyoncé took things to a new level with her Super Bowl performance. The Super Bowl is known for controversial performances ever since Janet Jackson took on the half-time show, but Beyoncé used it to display racism in an artistic and understated way. In result of her performance, what had been planned to be an understated point to the performance, it turned into controversial headlines the moment the Super Bowl was over with. There is a time and place to display ones feelings on a certain subject, but she abused her power as a performer to raise more controversy over racism, again, specifically between African Americans and Caucasians. It is easy to fall into the beat of the music. The music as a whole and like the performer specifically Beyoncé are global phenomenon’s, but when people listen to the lyrics, people often discover that the lyrics have a deeper meaning. The song performed was called “Formation”. It emphasized that African American’s are black and Beyoncé likes African American’s hair and facial structures, along with images of Hurricane Katrina with a young African American wearing a hoodie in front of a line of police with the words, “Stop shooting us” behind him (France, 2016). It is those social subjectivities that are dividing the human race, especially in politics and even in today’s news.
With social subjectivity, the ethics in media are tested by what is displayed in today’s media. People are quick to blame African Americans. It is sad, but it happens. Human subjectivity is important because it explains that when one acts one way, others follow and it becomes a social practice, which is why racism has become a huge concern in America. This is not how most humans were raised or taught, they were taught to come together. The Beatles even wrote a song about it. However, it is the lack of ethics the media once obtained and lost once people began to start testing the media and just how far artists could go that would make it on television or on the radio. Which then results to how the news portrays racism.
The U.S. media today highlights controversial topics, including the Super Bowl, but more importantly the everyday working class portion of society. Stephen Balkaran writes:
“Media have divided the working class and stereotyped young African-American males as gangsters or drug dealers. As a result of such treatment, the media have crushed youths’ prospects for future employment and advancement. The media have focused on the negative aspects of the black community (e.g. engaging in drug use, criminal activity, welfare abuse) while maintaining the cycle of poverty that the elite wants (Balkaran, 2016).”
There has always been a divide between the African American and Caucasian race, however, there is a disconnect as to when it specifically happened and what changed. Allowing the human brain to create that persona of racial divide and that then becomes the new social norm.
Media is used to empower these social subjectivity mentioned above, and is now known as the new ethical standards of the 21st century media, because it is a highly rated occurrence in America. Both social standings with women reporting, specifically sports, and racism throughout the media, are issues that need to seek change, especially with actors and singers coming together to voice their opinions on racism. Women have seen improvement, yes, however there are still issues. There are issues that there are not brunette female reporters for football, there are not that many African American reporters, and there is still a struggle with seeking equality when it comes to pay for women on television. Which in turn ties into racism. The news is a media form that is used to publicize racism. Campuses have groups solely for African Americans to be apart of, no one else. This then isolates and divides the human race and does not solve the issue at hand. If people came together as a society, a country, and did not delve into racism as much as they do, people would break the cycle and move forward through this subjectivity that has become the new, unethical, social norm. Both female sport reporters and racism may be two opposite subjects, however they run the same obstacle course when it comes to seeking a solution of some sort, one may be greater than the other, however, both seek to be content.
Balkaran, S. (1999, October n.a). Mass Media and Race. Retrieved from http://www.yale.edu/ypq/articles/oct99/oct99b.html#fn4
Carlson, J. (2010, September 14). Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/09/14/carlson.female.reporter/index.html
France, L. (2016, February 9). Protest planned against and for Beyonce. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/09/entertainment/beyonce-boycott-super-bowl-feat/
Oxford Dictionary. (2016, n.a). Retrieved from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/racism
Rand, M. (2008, August 2). Erin Andrews: “my overall reaction is that it is really sad”. Retrieved from http://blogs2.startribune.com/blogs/randball/2008/08/02/erin-andrews-my-overall-reaction-is-that-its-really-sad/