[Photograph taken by Yoji Amashiro]
Hegemony is a word derived from the Greek language, which roughly translates, to ‘dominant influence or authority over others’. It also could stand for influence held by a dominant group – socially, culturally, ideologically and economically.
To identify whether hegemony is present in a modern day’s society, culture and lifestyle requires much information and research about the governmental body and the population.
Media and the news
All in the world is not as you have been told. There is this saying that goes by “truth is stranger than fiction” and it could very well be accurate, for we have been deceived on such huge way that most people would have difficulty comprehending to the fullest. The behind the scenes machinations of big money and politics are almost as good as non-existent to the rest of the population people had access to the answers, there would be no qualms to cause a revolution. Many a ton of people are not willing to believe an entire nation is deceived in such a manner, although it is not that unbelievable when you decipher the reality and hierarchy of a revered media where we blindly place trust. The truth is only as you know it. They are told that most politicians are not truthful but have no hint of knowing that the news media deceives us just as much, if not more. Our media to such an extent has deceived us, mostly because people are too trusting of our news system. They very naively believe that broadcasters and journalists would never lie to them. This trust has clearly worked against the things we thought of with devastating consequences, which are unknown to most. To understand this, we first need to learn about how our news organization was hi-jacked in this manner. Once we learn this historical fact, it is far easier to understand that life is not as we know it.
The media does not only serve as the news spreader, the media serves to sell itself and sell advertising within itself. The media, therefore, does not always report the truth, but rather reports the reality that the audience wants to hear, often times in a fashion that departs from the truth considerably. In my experience in reading and observing the news, I have noticed it to become harder and harder to find an unbiased and well-rounded report on anything. Very little to no news article or reports present information from both sides and it has been getting worse over the years. Since most articles lack integrity, or contain bias, it is very difficult to trust the media.
The U.S. press, like the U.S. government, is an almost corrupt and troubled institution. Corrupt not so much in the sense that it accepts bribes but in a systematic sense. It fails to do what it claims to do, what it is supposed to do, and what society wants it to do. The news media and the government are intertwined in a vicious circle of mutual manipulation, false truth, and self-interest. Journalists need crises to dramatize news, and it requires government officials to respond to it. Too often, the crises are not really crises but an untrue idea of the truth as it has been altered. The two institutions have become wounded in a web of lies that the news media are not truthful and the government is unable to govern effectively.
Humans crave information, which is why we always turn to the television, radio or newspaper. Without the media, we would still be getting used to newspaper pigeons we are often used in the past, leaving the rest of the world clueless as to what is going on, around them. The problem with news and media today that there is a notable success rate for it to be bias, certain media networks have a particular tendency or inclination towards someone or something. Certain networks have been claimed by others to be more biased than others, leaving the news consumer to decide what they would prefer to watch. Often times, the media is accused of being the most unfair especially when it comes to news associated with politics, especially during presidential elections.
People often wonder why the bias in media exist and why it is inevitable. Different news outlets or media networks seek different information. For example, a famous athlete is accused of failing a drug test. A news reporter may want to find out the facts, and a sports reporter might be trying to find out how the team is impacted. Each reporter is known for doing their job, but because they are telling the story to wide range of audiences, they attempt to make their reports look appealing to those audiences. Another main reason why bias tends to exist in the media is due to editorials. Editorials are known to be ‘sections’ of the newspaper that have been crafted entirely out of biased opinions. The opinions of the general public are allowed to be submitted to the newspapers.
Efforts in keeping the media unbiased
Many news networks are blamed of being biased, not every station has a bad reputation. There are some networks that try their best to keep news as neutral as possible.
More often than not, there number of so called ‘biased’ media networks outweigh and outnumber more than un-biased networks. One of the well known ones is ‘Fox News’ and is a prime example of a biased broadcasting station. This network has been notably accused of being biased towards more democratic and more conservative causes and politicians. The Democratic National Committee chairman called Fox a “beast similar to that of Godzilla when it comes to giving false news.” As we all know, the guy Mitt Romney is a conservative republican, people accused Fox of siding for him throughout the election. This is all happening while, MSNBC is a station that has been blamed for being biased towards the liberals and the democrats. Rupert Murdoch is one of the world’s most influential people, he is the owner of Fox News Corporation. Biasness is clearly found in daily or big news and information because the reporters were taught to develop their own opinions and sharing it with the rest of the world online. Social media is a great way to send out information and one of them is through sites such as Facebook and Skype, but it is risky to do so because it can create a very biased atmosphere. The public associates certain reporters with certain stations, and when that reporter makes a biased remark on a social media site, citizens may accuse the news station as being biased as well.
There are many different types of media bias and it is important to learn how to identify them.
TYPES OF MEDIA BIAS
Bias by omission
By leaving out important aspects of an article, or series of paragraph, over a span of time; ignoring certain facts which disproves several liberal or conservative claims, or that support liberal or conservative beliefs; ‘bias by omission’ happens usually within a story, or over the long term as a particular news outlet reports one set of events, but not another. To find instances of bias by omission, be aware of the conservative and liberal perspectives on current issues. See if both the parties’ perspectives are included in stories on a particular event or policy.
Bias by selection of sources
It includes more sources that support one view over another. This bias is selectively targeted when a reporter uses such phrases as “experts believe,” “observers say,” or “most people believe.” In courtroom trials, experts in news stories are like expert witnesses. If you know whether the defense or the prosecution called a particular expert witness to the stand, you know which way the witness will testify. It is obvious when there comes a news story, which only presents a monotonous angle of the story, and then it is the information that the reporter supports and agrees. To find bias via expert advice or with credible sources, remain vigilant to the affiliations and political perspective of those who are dubbed as experts or authorities in news stories. Not all stories will include such experts, but within those stories, make sure the number of conservatives and liberals quoted, are numbered equally. If a particular story quotes non-experts, such as those portrayed as average citizens, make sure by checking for an equal number coming from both sides of the issue in question.
Bias by story selection
If able to notice a pattern of highlighting news stories that coincide with the agenda of supporting views, while stories that coincide with the opposing view are rightfully ignored; printing a story or study released by a liberal or conservative group but ignoring research on the same or similar topics released by the opposing parties. To identify bias by story selection, one has to be able to seek and understand both sides of the story. See how much coverage certain issues get compared to other issues or the amount of liberals compared to conservatives. For example, if a liberal group puts out a study proving a liberal point, look at how much coverage it received when compared with a more conservative study that was published earlier, or vice versa.
Bias by placement
Story placement can be noted by how important the editor considers the story. Several studies have shown that, in the case of the average newspaper reader and the average news story, most people read only the headline. Bias by placement usually takes place on a website, newspaper or in an article a story or event is printed; it is a pattern of placing news stories so as to throw off information supportive of either views. To locate such cases of bias by placement, you must watch where and how the media broadcasts their political stories. Or when there is a story to be read, look how each viewpoint of the story unveils itself. In a more balanced environment, the reporter would quoting or summarizing both, liberal and conservative views in the same places of the story.
Bias by labeling
Bias by labeling can appear in dual forms. Firstly, the act of tagging such conservative politicians and groups with extreme labels while leaving liberal politicians and groups untouched or un-judged, or vice versa. The second kind of bias by labeling can happen when a reporter not does not identify a liberal as such or a conservative as one, but instead, decides to describe the person or group with positive labels, for e.g “independent consumer labels”. In such a case, this results in the reporter not recognizing the professionalism of the party. In the case where the “expert” is properly called a “conservative” or a “liberal” the news consumer is able to keep that ideological view into account when re-evaluating assertiveness. When looking for bias by labeling, it is wise to recall that not all labeling is wrong. Bias by labeling is present when the story labels one party but the other, when the story resorts to extreme sounding labels for the conservative than the modern day liberal and conservative. Many of these known conservative official or group are simply experts that are linked to a news radar or independent watchdog organization.
Bias by spin
Bias by spin occurs when the story has only one interpretation of an event or policy, also known as ‘spinning a story’ or ‘a story that has been spun’. It usually involves a reporter’s comments regarding facts; makes one side’s ideological perspective seem outwardly better. To check if it’s spin, try observing and checking which interpretation of an event a news story matches – the liberal or conservative. Many news stories do not reflect a particular spin. Usually people tend to summarize the story. But if a story reflects one to the exemption of the other, then it could possible be bias by spin.
Manipulation of media
I learnt how easy it is to manipulate the media, for it runs like most organizations, in a hierarchy that ends with the wealthy ownership. It is a tragic mistake for those who errantly claim that media is not controlled. In print, stories are scrutinized by an editor before publishing. A radio broadcaster is subjected to direction from the Program Director, consultant or station manager. A talking head in TV news gets their stories scripted and fed via teleprompter, all of which is once again subject to editing to meet company policy. On a daily basis, our media is very much controlled and deceives.
The vast majority of all news media in the United States is controlled by approximately 50 corporations back in 1983. Today however, it has been reduced to six but incredibly powerful media corporations . What people watch, hear and read every single day are controlled by them. Most people do not wonder and question who is providing them with the endless hours of news and entertainment that they take in. They do not give a thought for the citizens. However, it is a fact that the messages they often are constantly portraying and delivering to us, much impacts us deeply. Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., CBS Corporation and NBC Universal are the six corporations that collectively control U.S. media today. Together, they are making use and taking majorly influencing the news and media in the United States.
However, people must realize that the media does not necessarily lie. They often use sub-lingual language to mask the true origin of the text. The words used in media offer a high chance to omit socio-cultural connotations associated with them – these similarities in the drive of hunger can easily set the difference between a man seen in a positive light or a negative light.
In my opinion, it is evident that the media is very biased. Although some networks have the ability to be truthful, all but the remainder of all media networks are almost completely the opposite when they report news. Either way, it is clear that our society produces news that is often unfair and biased.
In conclusion, media is simply the bestest of ways to convey and receive important and truthful information on. Corporations own media outlets and they use the media as a form or method to make money. The media are known to have a tendency to exaggarate their stories and changes them to be interesting and to get more viewers, it is bias information to get the viewer to brainwash and perhaps empathize the audience to think a certain way.
McQuail, D. McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory (4th edn Sage, London 2000).
Nobles, Richard and Schiff, David. Understanding Miscarriages of Justice: Law, the Media and the Inevitability of Crisis (Oxford University Press, Oxford 2000).
Sherwin, R.K. When Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Lines Between Law and Popular Culture (University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2000).
Street, J. Mass Media, Politics and Democracy (Palgrave McMillan, Basingstoke 2001).
Written Yoji Amashiro
Photograph by Yoji Amashiro