Ethnocentrism is “the assumption that one’s own group and way of life are superior to all others” and come in both positive and negative forms. I never fully understood this concept until researching about how Africa is portrayed in the media. Africa is still a developing country but has taken extremely positive steps in order to improve all aspects of living conditions. As part of Western Society we are very limited to the stories from other countries such as Africa unless we do our own research.
While I was researching how education is protrayed in Africa I was surprised to see how many negative stories came out. Most stories criticized the way Africa has implemented education in the lives of young kids, but what people do not realize or talk about is the lack of help they have received from other countries. It does not take a lot of money or a small independent group to improve this dramatically. Even with some of the positive stories I found, the news outlets seemed to be praising the person(s) or organization(s) involved rather than talking about how education in Africa has improved. This is a clear example “ethnocentrism”.
On a few occasions I read articles about how small groups of individuals or organizations went to Africa and helped with all kind of aid including medicine, school supplies and basic living necessities. Most would see this as a success story for Africa, but rather these stories made that seem secondary to what wonderful individuals had done. This research has really shown me how even with a little bit of help from anyone can have such a positive effect on another part of the world.
One positive story I found had to do with a women’s basketball team that needed sponsorship money. The founder of an executive-recruitment firm offered to sponsor them but in order to receive the money, the team had to learn about “Dafur” which was a civil war going on in Sudan and teach others about it. After the project was completed, the women on this team were so surprised to learn about the startling gap in cultural education. This story just proves that in order to give a lot to another country, it does not always mean you need to give up a lot.
One concept that I have continued to think about while watching or reading news items is “mean world syndrome”. The media always shows the ”ugliest” or most dramatic stories and the very cliche line with the media is “if it bleeds, it leads”. Mean world syndrome portrays that our society is a dangerous and scary place to live, majority of the stories include a horrific incident such as a shooting in local streets or vicious attacks (to name a few). What we will not find in the media are success stories such as independent groups going to another developing country and helping with aid, or how police have been able to successfully arrest a long time offender. If stories like these were more consistent than those who rely on news outlets to stay connected with what is going on in the world would now think our world was a scary and dangerous place to be.
There are a lot of different forms of news outlets society has accessible including evening news and the internet to name a few but wherever you get your news there is one main theme, “gatekeeping”. Gatekeeping is a mechanism used by the media to filter and control the flow of messages from the media to audiences. Gatekeeping ensures that only “desirable” messages are transmitted to audiences. News or messages considered “desirable” are filtered out. Last night on CBC ”The National” the top stories were both regarding country leaders getting together to talk numerous topics such as trade agreements and how the “Secret Service” for Barack Obama had allegedly had “prostitutes” in their hotel rooms. I can understand these being news stories but on a day that there are fatal tornado’s occurring in the Mid-West States it seems strange that “prostitutes” took priority over natural disasters.
This story came from a killing that occurred on Halloween 2011. Taylor Van Diest was eighteen years old. She was badly beaten and later died in hospital. On the night she was killed, she was going to meet friends at a Halloween house party. After a long investigation the police were finally able to find the man responsible for the killing, but as we see, that particular fact seems secondary in this article.
This story talks about how the police were able to find the person responsible through a variety of ways. This should be a story about how police were able to find the truth about how a young female was suddenly killed on her way to a Halloween party; instead this story is written in a way that makes the victim seem secondary. Throughout the article, the publisher talks about the person involved and his criminal background. This is a clear example of “social constructionism”. Social constructionism is based on the assumption that there is nothing natural or normal about the world we inhibit. Rather, social reality is created by individuals to reflect certain interests in a world not necessarily of their making. When the publisher brings up the males past criminal record, it is made to seem as if this is all natural and normal for this world. In reality there is a very small percentage of individuals who act in this manner.
This story should bring closure to family, friends and everyone who was involved and should be more about how these individuals can find closure to a horrific situation. This article goes into detail about where they arrested the male, and the characteristics of him including “stocky man, with small, dark eyes”. The publisher also goes into detail about past crimes that were possibly committed by the same individual which seems to down-play the current situation on the young female being murdered. There is no reason to go into detail about past crimes the male may or may not have committed, this story should again simply be about how a young female was murdered and after a long investigation the police were able to identify the person responsible.
This article talks about “Mitt Romney” who recently won a vote in Nevada in order to be in the next run against current President Barack Obama in November general election. Throughout this article, Romney talks about what issues he will be most focused on rather than campaigning against the chief Republican rival Newt Gingrich. I believe this clearly fits the term “Ethnocentrism” in that his views are the only important aspect in this article. Ethnocentrism means the view of things in which one’s own group is the center of everything, and all other groups are scaled and rated with reference to it. I believe that this is a very interesting term because you can associate it to several areas when it comes to politics and media representation. When a politician has the opportunity to speak in front of the public he or she should focus on how they are going to campaign rather than bring up issues that he or she believes could be handled improved if they were in power.
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