News: Representation

Firstly, go here to remind yourself about the concept of representation.

Newspapers have to follow very strict codes about how they represent groups of people. The Press Code of Practice has this to say:

"12 Discrimination

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability. ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story."

So, is racism (or sexism, or nationalism, or homophobia, or ageism...) a problem in the contemporary press?

Sexism certainly continues to be discussed with regard to the tabloid press. Check The Star as a fairly typical example. Is there any evidence that Laura Mulvey's theory of MALE GAZE may still be relevant? Should tabloid papers still print pictures of topless women? (Not a purely British phenomenon, by the way; German paper Das Bild often has these women on the front page.) Incidentally, these newspapers tried publishing similar pin-ups of men several years ago. Because of the lack of interest from the audience, this was relatively quickly abandoned.


Contribute to the forum at the bottom of the page: Should tabloids be banned from printing pictures of nude women?

However, tabloids have been accused of more insidious forms of sexism. The recent story about the abduction of Madeleine McCann is one such example. As suspicion turned (for whatever reason) on the parents themselves, the mother came in for MUCH more press attention than the father. Why would this be?

Here's one story from The Star.

Check here for a (very subjective, with some swearing) account of how the press apparently expect women to look and behave at times of crisis. If they do not match the dominant representation (supported by dominant ideologies), then they can, the argument goes, be represented less than favourably.

It might be worth considering why the un-touched-up Newsweek cover photograph of Sarah Palin cause such a stir.

Other groups, of course, are often represented in very stereotypical ways. Here, for example, is The Sun's editorial from Jan 24 2008. Who is being represented, and in what ways? What underlying IDEOLOGIES are revealed?

Robbers from the Town Hall
HARD-working families are being taxed to death. They are sick to the back teeth of their earnings being whittled away. A four per cent rise in council tax is daylight robbery. That’s twice the rate of inflation. Labour’s failure to predict accurately the number of immigrants is partly to blame. But so is its failure to put the screws on Town Hall chiefs. They throw our cash around like confetti. We are forced to foot the bill for a bewildering array of politically correct non-jobs. Gordon Brown insists we all have to tighten our belts for the good of the economy. But he should read the riot act to Town Hall chiefs. The cost of putting petrol in the car, buying the weekly groceries and heating our homes is going through the roof. Taxes are already sky-high. There is a limit to how long people can keep opening their wallets. That limit has been reached.

THE politically correct brigade are at it again. They dismiss a story based on the Three Little Pigs as offensive. They say the Three Little Cowboy Builders could upset Muslims AND builders. What offensive nonsense. Britain’s sensible Muslim community couldn’t care less. And builders are more than capable of looking after themselves. The petty penpushers at Government agency Becta should go back to school and focus on what this country really needs: Getting our kids to read and write.

Heroes fleeced
THEY serve their country with pride and risk their lives every day on the frontline. Yet the treatment of our armed forces is a disgrace. Many live in sub-standard housing. And they endure shortages of vital equipment. Now we learn 50,000 were underpaid last year. Some were left more than £300 a month out of pocket. Ministers must sort out this mess. It is the least these heroes deserve.

Also, at a very basic level, audiences expect the news to offer a relatively unbiased representation of 'the truth' (arguably...) Photojournalist ETHICS are an important issue in this regard - it's very easy to distort or create 'truth' by manipulating images. See HERE.

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