Today in my Feminism-Minimester, the Executive Director of Media Literacy Project, Andrea Quijada, came to talk to my class about how to analyze media. She brought up great points about commercials and how that has developed to essentially lie to people to get consumers. We also learned to break down different types of media like commercials, raisin boxes, images, literature, and others.
One of the things that got me thinking was reading the same story being told in different ‘frames’. The story was basically about an infant who was mauled by rats in a tenement because of low sanitary standards. We saw three stories:
- It focused very closely on the role of the mother and the neighbor
- It puts the blame of the unfortunate incident on the mother
- There is a very naïve account from the mother
- It just gives a sense of a huge irresponsibility from the adults involved
- It focused on the landlord and his relationships with the tenants
- The account from the landlord puts on the blame on the ‘dirty’ tenants he has and how it’s the tenants fault the incident happened
- The blame in this case goes to the tenants for ‘bringing this upon themselves’ (This is my opinion, some of my classmates thought the blame was on the landlords ignorant comment).
- This focused on the big picture. It talked about institutions and the neighborhood the incident occurred in.
- The neighborhood gets a voice in this case.
- The blame goes on the institution for not improving the living conditions of an area known for high mortality rates because of its sanitary issues.
This got me thinking, “How are the articles and other sources I’m being exposed to are bias by including some things and excluding other things?”. This is the first time I ever thought of this type of bias. The type of bias I was well of aware of before was the idea that news stations subtly or not so subtly express their opinion on the matter by putting specific words that have a certain weight to it. Instead of saying “They put graffiti on the wall”, they’ll say “A group of people vandalized a neighborhood”. You can see the difference in the message. Thinking about it now, we don’t always (or ever) get all the perspectives of the issue. We only get the point of view of a few people and sometimes the point of view isn’t even relevant.
A bigger question that came to mind when I was reflecting this issue was, is there any source of information that is reliable and accurate? Can we rely on multiple sources to get the entire scope?
I will probably never ‘digest’ media information the same way anymore, I will be very skeptical whether or not the news put in front of me is the right lens to look through.