Monday, August 31, 2009

Minority report ~ Guardian UK

Minority report

America deserves media as diverse as the nation it serves – and more minority voices
must be allowed to be heard

Media, like any other technology, comes with the capacity to change the world. Like other technologies, media is rapidly changing and innovating. As print media – especially newspapers – pales in public participation, for example, online internet usage is rising exponentially. Whether it is the Twittering of Iran's elections after the government shutdown of Facebook and other social networking sites, or congressional hearings on Second Life, an online virtual reality where lifelike avatars represent human beings,
media is rapidly changing the way the world does business.

Both of us, in our different spheres, have embraced the new possibilities that these new media offer us. For Michael Honda, a member of Congress can be on the cutting edge of using new technology to engage constituents, from crowd-sourcing website design to
using Twitter to allow the public to feel the immediacy of democracy. For Danny Glover,
an actor and director can use it to go beyond film and foster global perspectives and diverse viewpoints through catalysts such as LinkTV, an independent media outlet committed to news not covered elsewhere.

The critical point in this ever-evolving media landscape, however, is to ensure that as we evolve technologically, we evolve socially as well. By this, we mean that media evolves to reflect society in its fullest spectrum, colour, creed and concern.

Yet currently, media does not.

America's newsrooms, for example, scarcely reflect our nation's rich tapestry, with minorities – be they Native American, Asian American, Latino American, African American or other – comprising only 13.4% of total payrolls. The absence of minorities is particularly apparent within the newspaper industry, with nearly 460 newspapers nationwide
employing no minorities at all.

Not even 10% of all US daily newspapers represent parity with their community, in terms
of adequately representing the demographics of the paper's readership. The gradual close of the daily newspaper industry, furthermore, which shed 5,900 jobs last year, has also inordinately impacted minorities. Roughly one out of every six jobs lost is a minority firing.

This lack of diverse and minority perspective is a problem, as it inevitably influences reporting and programming choices and content. In Washington's policy-related media world, the lack of minority representation is even more disconcerting, given the greater implications on policymakers' perspectives. Take the Sunday morning talkshows, for example. On the CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox Sunday news hours, Latino and Asian Americans comprise less than 5% of all guests, with African Americans averaging less than 10%.

Public broadcasting is better than the privately controlled mainstream media identified above, because the Public Telecommunications Act of 1988 pushes public providers to

be cognisant of minority voices and audiences. The purpose of the act was to create programming that serves all Americans and creates a more inclusive climate. Now,

thanks to this legislation, the overall number of minorities employed within National

Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service increased to nearly 30%. Clearly, congressional action was helpful.

Independent media goes even further in representing the non-represented, even beyond our shores. The benefit of programs like LinkTV's Mosaic, for example, which is a sampling of Middle East television news programming, is that an 18-year-old from Peoria, Illinois

for example, who has yet to travel the world, has an opportunity to learn about the daily goings-on of Muslims or Arabs halfway around the globe – all without reserving a plane ticket. The more world-wise we become, the more capable we will be as a nation to understand and be understood.

Congress can do more to foster minority representation in the media and to free the

fetters facing independent media outlets, but a cultural shift will also be required to

create a culture of curiosity. We are slowly but surely moving in this direction. The internet certainly has opened up the eyes of many Americans, for whom local television and the town newspaper was previously the primary perspective. Interestingly, of the 2,300 journalists who work solely online, nearly 20% are minority.

Through media, we can bring the world to each and every American household, providing minority and global perspectives on issues and culture, giving voice to people outside our mainstream, and promoting cross-cultural dialogue. If we encourage this, we will have a much different US domestic and foreign policy. Be it on immigration or the Middle East,

the more America properly knows the more America will care.

The minority voice cannot continue to be sidelined because a few media companies have

a hold on what will hit the airwaves and what will not. Mass media must truly represent

the masses.

Comment: Good  article. Brother Danny Glover is raising consciousness
and he is a real loving humane being.

Education for Liberation! Venceremos Unidos!

Peter S. Lopez {aka:Peta}
Sacramento, California,Aztlan
Yahoo Email: 
Come Together! Join Up! Seize the Time!


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