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article summaries 10-13 - Prejudice in the Media Julianna...

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Prejudice in the Media Julianna Bloom, Verika Dildy, Jennifer Singleton, and Jade Tibbals October 8, 2008 Article Summary #10 Sommers, S., Apfelbaum, E., Dukes, K., Toosi, N., & Wang, E. (2006, December). Race and Media Coverage of Hurricane Katrina: Analysis, Implications, and Future Research Questions. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy (ASAP) , 6 (1), 39-55. Retrieved September 9, 2008, doi:10.1111/j.1530-2415.2006.00103.x Purpose The purpose of this article focuses on the media’s depictions of the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The authors wanted to look at the media’s influence of American’s attitudes and views of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It specifically looks at the depictions of the survivors and the implications of the media on race. It covers three aspects of the media: use of language, story angle, and “new media” reports. The media’s language influences how the public views the effects of a natural disaster or any news story. The use of the word “refugees” to describe the survivors was discouraged by President Bush because of its negative connotations. The authors aimed their study at the influence of race on the media’s descriptions of the survivors of the storm. By looking at the photos and media coverage of the storm, it is easy to see that the story angle focused on violent crime. Reports of the amount and intensity of the crime in the area were largely inflated. The media claims that they have to run stories that will be of interest to the public, which in turn, could be influenced by race. But those stories, will just serve to reinforce the preexisting beliefs about the community of New Orleans. In the 21 st century, more news and media outlets are available for the public to receive information about major events. Web based blogs are popular sources for
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information and can include first person accounts. These accounts can be compared to the media on television, radio, or in newspapers. The authors look at the language used in these accounts as well as their story angles to discover what influences their writings. Findings In regards to the language used throughout the media, comparisons were made between Katrina and other tropical storms around the same time. It was found that the word “evacuee” was more popular (after President Bush’s discouragement of “refugee”) by a ratio of 2.7 to 1. In an analysis of media regarding Hurricane Rita, which occurred three weeks after Katrina, the word “evacuee” was more popular at a ratio of 5.9 to 1. This suggests that “refugee” was disproportionately used to describe the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Interestingly, the authors found that in a search of the word “refugee,” 68% of the time it was found within 10 words of “poor” or “black” as compared to 32% of the word “evacuee” being found within those words. The authors concluded that race influence the use of “refugee” in describing survivors of Katrina.
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