ERIC Number: ED314303
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Sep-22
Reference Count: N/A
International Issues, Media Coverage and Public Ignorance: or, So, Where Is Africa, Anyway?
It is commonplace to lament the lack of knowledge about world issues and events exhibited by U.S. citizens. Communication scholars criticize the mass media's poor coverage of world affairs and stereotypic portrayals of distant lands and leaders. Despite sophisticated communications networks, U.S. mass media provide only a limited window on the world, and the view outside is fragmented, partial and prejudicial. Surveys have repeatedly revealed the global illiteracy of U.S. citizens and their fear or hostility to foreign governments and ideas. While the diversity of media seems to encourage political debate and the public's involvement, the corporatized, homogenized newspaper chains seem to aim for the lowest common denominator of public intelligence and political discourse. It is precisely the consumption of trivialized news stories and fragmented fictions that overload viewers, confuse media consumers, and often narcotize rather than energize. The concept of news favors personality over issue, event over content, and official positions over popular grievances. The classical theory of liberal democracy is that media will enable people to develop informed opinions that will be translated into the nation's political will. Educators have a challenge to reveal that mass media news is a cleverly contrived social construction. The monopoly ownership of the public information channels must be democratized. Cultural exchange and cross-national dialogue should be encouraged. U.S. citizens must realize that their lives are ultimately affected by international issues that are not being reported on the networks. A list of 14 references is included. (PPB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the International Conference on Constitutional Government and the Development of an Enlightened Citizenry (Los Angeles, CA, September 16-22 1989).