Minorities in the field of mass media

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Professional Representation of Minorities at different positions and levels

In the past few decades, the mass media has become competitive due to dynamics in the media sector. Advancement in technology has also played a significant role in the shift of competitive factors affecting the industry. Through the process, minorities continue to be less represented in professional positions and levels (Smith 2). In the mass media, they are underrepresented in the four fields of mass media including advertising, entertainment, journalism, and public relations. Lack of minority representations in the professional media positions is consistent with the trends in other professions, including sports and business.

One of the fields of mass media that has sidelined minorities is advertising. Media advertisement companies and televisions tend to hire mostly Whites in their advertisement campaigns, leading to a low representation of minorities. Sweney (2011) argues that only 5% of ethnic majorities are represented in television ads. Black, Asian and other minority journalists and media personalities tend to be underrepresented in advertisements despite being dominant in the entertainment industry. A study carried out by Mastro and Stern (2010) on 2,315 speaking characters in television ads found out that 83.3% of the human speaking characters were Whites while African Americans, Asians and Latinos were only 12.4%, 2.3% and 2.0% respectively. The study also showed that male characters were more dominant than female characters. Therefore, minorities tend to be underrepresented in the media advertisements.

Minorities are also underrepresented in various levels and positions in the entertainment sector. According to Deggans (2016), Hollywood films continue to be dominated by Whites from the actors to producers, photographers, filmmakers and directors. Deggans suggests that there is an ongoing debate in social media about the dominance of white people in Oscar awards and Hollywood entertainment. A study on more than 400 TV shows and films shows that there is an inclusion crisis in entertainment. Despite the fact that women are more than half in the country, only a third of the speaking characters in the shows and films were female. These results show that minorities are underrepresented in entertainment.

The minorities also lack sufficient representation in journalism and public relations. White (2015) suggests that entry-level jobs in journalism are becoming highly competitive in the U.S., and it helps a lot to be a white. This observation reflects studies which have shown that minority groups represented only 22.4% of television journalists and 13% of them represented the radio journalists. Although ethnic minorities are less than Whites, they cannot be so few. Therefore, media representation is low in journalism. Minorities are also underrepresented in public relations, owing to the fact that the language and image of minorities are stereotypically considered ‘inappropriate’ for publicity.

The Professional ceiling of minorities and lack of executive representation

The studies on media representations also suggest that minorities are limited to specific types of jobs. The Whites occupy the top levels of management and the more paid and executive positions. For example, the newsroom women presenters has increased significantly over the past decade, but the executive positions and directorship continue to be dominated by Whites. Furthermore, the percentage of minority weathermen is higher than the percentage of minority newscasters. Clark (2013) suggests that it is very difficult to break the corporate glass ceiling in the United States. Majority professionals in the media are Whites, while minority ethnic groups occupy lower positions in the media.

Anglo-Saxon Americans have been on the front line in representation of the different positions and levels of media professionalism. One of the major factors that have contributed to this trend is the differences in language of minorities and the White majority in the United States. Furthermore, only 3.4% of the directors were female, and only 19% of broadcast TV shows were ethnically balanced (Deggans 2016). The entertainment media in Hollywood has a significantly low representation of minorities in executive positions such as directors and filmmakers due to limited opportunities, racial and gender discrimination (Erigha 79). Lack of representation of minorities in top positions of management is not only limited to business and public organisations, but also experienced in the mass media.

The glass ceiling limits women and racial minorities to junior management and subordinate positions such as clerks and secretaries. According to Smith (p.6), participation of women decreases as power increases at the executive ranks. Only 19% of Board directors in media companies are women, and 81% are men. In this regard, women and minority races have little participation in decision making and ownership of films and media production houses in the United States. The factors causing such disparities include: stereotyping, culture and discrimination (Erigha 83). Therefore, inequality and inability to break the glass ceiling continues to exist in journalism, mass media and entertainment.

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  1. Clark, Dorie. Why So Few Women and Minorities At The Top? Here’s The Real Reason. Forbes, September 13, 2013.
  2. Deggans, Eric. Hollywood Has A Major Diversity Problem, USC Study Finds. NPR, February 22, 2016.
  3. Erigha, Maryann. Race, Gender, Hollywood: Representation in Cultural Production and Digital Media’s Potential for Change. Sociology Compass, 9(1), 2015: 78-89.
  4. Mastro, Dana E. and Stern, Susannah R. Representations of Race in Television Commercials: A Content Analysis of Prime-Time Advertising. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 47(4), 2010: 638-647.
  5. Smith, Stacy L., Marc Choueiti and Katherine Pieper. Inclusion or Invisibility? Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment. Annenberg: Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg (IDEA). 2016. Print.
  6. Sweney, Mark. Only 5% of TV ads feature ethnic minorities. The Guardian, 21 April 2011.
  7. White, Gillian, B. Where are all the Minority Journalists? The Atlantic, July 24, 2015.
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