Progressive theorists believed that America would be much more powerful if everyone in American society felt unified. If everyone believes that they are on the same team, they are more likely to direct their anger towards another country or culture.
When I think about what I see in the media today, I can definitely see this concept. Much of what we see is American news. American media and education does not include a lot of information about other countries and their cultures.
This media promotes nationalism without the audience knowing. We are so used to seeing people like us who do the same things we do. When we are exposed to someone from another culture who may behave differently we don’t know how to react. The beginning of radio was a nationalistic project.
This is an example of how the progressive idea of everyone feeling unified is used in the media. As media industry became more commercial the goal became to make money. The only way for media industry to make money is by getting members of society to watch and listen to their programs.
The audience has to feel connected to the media for that to occur. I think that is the reason the media mainly focuses on American issues. We are not taught to look at things from the perspective of people who have different cultures. The media wants us to resonate with that they are putting out.
The media industry is very powerful and the progressives were weary of this power. Progressives were also worried about how easily the media would influence society. What is seen in the media has the potential to create social norms.
The populist concept believed that if a group of people felt strongly enough about an issue they would resist attempts to define and control them. I agree with the populist view to an extent. I do think that people have the power to get their views on a particular subject heard by the public.
But I do not think that the power of the people is enough to outweigh the power of the media. For example, African Americans have struggled with their representation in the media from the beginning.
Though the African American community has made a lot of progress and tried to redefine themselves multiple times throughout history, there is still a large amount of stereotypes about the African American that exist in the media.
I do think that what the African American community has accomplished is enough to cause social change. Because of everything African Americans have achieved you see more people in society who feel as though they can connect with them.
However, you don’t see a lot of positive programming about the African American community on the major networks. Music and reality TV make up most of what we see about African Americans. Or at least these are the shows that the most light is shed on.
The stereotypical images get the most screen time. The only way the images of African American in the media would change is if the people in charge wanted to do so.