Posted by: ladyelayna | October 16, 2016

Mediated Reality

Mediated Reality was a theme in chapter three of Shoemaker and Reese’s “Mediating the Message in the 21st Century”.  As someone who has traveled extensively in the developing world and worked with people from many cultures, I am disheartened when I see the media depict entire cultures, countries, or even continents, through the most negative, biased lenses.

And while this can happen with the best of intentions, perhaps in an effort to gain public sympathy, build awareness, or raise funds to help people in need, it plays into stereotypes and does not paint a full picture.

Here’s a Facebook post from this week, in the form of a “Dear Media” letter, that beautifully illustrates how significantly the choices made by the media can shape perception:

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Yes, Haiti is a poor country and has more than its share of problems. However, there are some very important facts about Haiti and its history that tell a vital part of the story. And shine a much more positive light. Most Americans don’t know these things about Haiti because they rarely make an appearance in the story.

Imagine for a moment, As Bradt Travel suggests in their comment above, if we turned the tables and journalists started every story about the U.S. with the qualification that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the western hemisphere. Does that shift reality? Does it help illuminate how much power the media has – to modify reality with the information they choose to emphasize or omit from a story?

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Responses

  1. This spurred me to think about the news coverage about Haiti after Hurricane Matthew. The LA Times reported, “Three days after the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation was battered by 140 mph gales and torrential rain”. Yet another example of Haiti highlighted first for being a poor country. Then as soon as the hurricane hit the East Coast the news coverage of Haiti fell off the American grid.

    Many of my friends on Facebook shared they were frustrated by the lack of news coverage on Haiti after Hurricane Matthew hit. As a result of their frustration, they shared articles about the rising death toll in Haiti. However these stories also did not highlight Haiti for their achievements. This is an opportunity for my friends to recognize that they have a voice to change the conversation. Despite the lack of news coverage, can people become online advocates for countries and bring attention to issues?

    Take a look at Thomas Ruggerio’s article, “Uses and Gratifications Theory in the 21st Century”. He explains that the uses and gratifications theory (UGT) holds the audience responsible for selecting the media they consume, to meet their desires and needs to achieve gratification (Ruggerio, 2000). I believe that my friends are intentionally sharing stories about Haiti to paint the full picture, because the media is not providing the information they desire. The media is unlikely to shine a positive light on countries amidst a storm, which is why people should use social platforms to build accurate awareness.


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