Media Representation of Marginalized Groups

Research Paper


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This research project asks you to select a general topic from the three listed below and to come up with your own specific argument. This research project is NOT formal. This means that you may draw on your own personal experience in order to make your own point. HOWEVER. This is still a research paper, so you must also provide compelling and convincing evidence to support your argument. And this evidence must be properly cited. This is our final project, so I am also expecting very close attention to thesis statements, topic sentences, and organization.


Successful papers will:

  • Have a clear, narrow, and specific thesis statement that directly states the authors argument
  • Be organized so that information flows from one idea to the next
  • Have successful topic sentences that tell the reader what will be covered in that paragraph
  • Utilize secondary sources in a variety of ways (summary, introducing, integration, block quotes)
  • Have correct in-text citations and a works cited page
  • Be largely free of sentence level errors


Paper Requirements:

  • 1,200-1,400 words
  • 3-4 reliable sources, one of which MUST be a scholarly source
  • MLA Formatted (12pt, Times New Roman font, double spaced, 1” margins, header in upper left corner, last name and page number in upper right header)
  • Proper citation to avoid plagiarism


* A note on thesis statements: Your thesis statement should clearly and concisely convey the conclusion you have reached on this issue. For example, I might want to write about the Arab Spring and the use of Social Media. My thesis statement might be: While social media networks aided protestors in organizing during what would be called the Arab Spring, the real benefit of these networks was getting the information out so the rest of the world would know what was happening. This is narrow – I am looking at the Arab Spring and social media, but even more specifically I am looking at how social media let the rest of world see what was happening – and I have a clear position. After my research I have decided that while, yes, social media was important for protestors, its real importance lay in giving the rest of the world a glimpse into what was happening. *


Below you will find three general areas concerning media. It is your job to find a specific, narrow topic that you want to look at within these broader ideas.


Media and Democracy

The mass media has a powerful influence on political reality, as it shapes public opinion and lays the foundations of political beliefs. Sometimes referred to as the fourth branch of government in democratic countries the media plays a crucial role during elections and in times of change. Therefore, politicians and political parties are particularly sensitive towards their media presence and the media coverage of their public appearances.


The relationship between politics and the mass media is closely related to the debate about freedom of speech. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, reads: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.”


In democratic societies, the media plays a particularly important role, as it is a communication channel which ensures the exchange of opinions and points of view between the people in power and the general public. In liberal democracy, the media facilitates the public discourse, informs the public, represents the public and acts as a watchdog of the branches of government. Analysts highlight the role of the media in the support of true democratic society.


As a watchdog in the political world, the media has the task of criticizing decision-makers in society. Journalists can fulfill this task only if they are independent.


The onset of the information age has revolutionized the relationship between politics and the media. In the new media environment, shaped by social networks and blogs, the general public is no longer a passive observer, but an active player. The communication between politicians and voters is much more direct through the use of blogs and micro-blogging tools. The technological development has given rise to the emergence of citizen journalism, also referred to as participatory or street journalism. This trend describes the active role of the public in the dissemination, analysis and collection of information.


The current presidential campaign in the USA has once again brought the relationship of Media and Democracy to the forefront of political debate. Deep fakes, intentionally misleading ads, and outright lies circulate daily throughout social media and on cable news. Some platforms have taken a number of measures to curtail or label misleading or factually erroneous content.


For this paper, you will be investigating some aspect of media and democracy. The specifics of your investigation are up to you, but you will want to choose a specific angle from which to investigate this relationship. Be very narrow.



Media Fandom

Media fandom first appeared in the early 1970s as an outgrowth of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Star Trek shows. As it continued to grow and become more popular, media fandom grew into a culture.


Trekkies, or Star Trek fans, were some of the most visible and well-known fandoms. Communities would grow out of fans’ love of the series. Conventions would soon follow, where people would dress up and get together to celebrate their favorite characters.


Many people began joining the media fandom craze when they discovered it online as opposed to getting it from personal contact. With the advent of the Internet, a lot of people joined various types of fandoms such as soap opera fandom, celebrity fandom and comic fandom.


Media fandom is probably one of the most dynamic, creative and most interesting groups online. It joins together people from all walks of life, people who like to read or write, people who are creative and people who just like to imagine and fantasize.


Media fandom has expanded beyond its original intent. Many issues such as community, space and identity are discussed and bring together many Internet communities who share common interests. Creating new links between cultural, media and Internet studies, media fandom began discussing the class, gender, nationality and sexuality of many television and movie characters, video game characters, superheroes, and comic book characters. At conventions and in online spaces, this would spill into discussion of who “could” or “should” cosplay as certain characters.

With the massive popularity of comic book films in the past two decades, gatherings like Comic-Con have now come to represent media fandom.


You can examine any number of aspects of media fandom, just make sure you are being narrow and specific.



Media Representation of Marginalized Groups

The ways in which minorities and women are portrayed in media affect not only how others see them, but how they see themselves. Many of the media images and representations of these groups are either damaging or based on stereotypes, which reflect and reinforce sexism and racism in society.


In the fast-moving world of the 21st century, the news media play a pivotal role in helping to shape the opinions of the masses. Images that are constantly transmitted, and opinion polls that are broadcast, influence and shape public opinion and perceptions that guide the nation. Among the most influential media that help shape opinions is the entertainment media.


What people hear on the radio, what they see on television and movies and what they read in the news media has a great influence on the attitudes that are shaped and molded. How Asian Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans, and women are portrayed can bolster any stereotypes or negative images one may have toward that group. With little or no diversity in the media those negative images are reinforced.


A study conducted by Children Now showed that in particular the television viewing hour between 8 and 9 p.m., known as “family hour,” contained almost no ethnic diversity. The Screen Actors Guild reported that the number of actors of Asian-American, African-American and Hispanic origin actually began to decline since 1998, even though their percentage of the population has increased.


You may look at any aspect of representation, in any type of media, that you wish. However, be very specific. Do not just look at “representation” in media.

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