Media Representation?

As a journalism and mass communications major, I always find media representation interesting. It’s intriguing to see what is deemed deserving of media coverage and what isn’t. Business and consumer ethics seemed to me to be extremely newsworthy topics for all outlets. I surmised that it would be an interesting and applicable topic to all audiences.

After perusing the Internet for a while in search of articles and specials on this topic, I was surprised to find very little.  I looked at the websites for all the major news outlets, and after searching each one, I found very little relating to the topic. This, I find interesting. It says a lot about the news media in general. The media is in complete control of what it gives attention. I found more articles along the lines of “Ten Great Tips for Summer Fun” than I did about a serious humanitarian problem occurring all over the world, in every country and city.

I found that more internationally focused news outlets and publications centered on business and finance had more content to offer on the topic of unethical business practices. The BBC website came forth with several relative articles when I searched for terms like “sweat shops,” “child labor,” and “unethical businesses.” I did find that many articles in this field, particularly those related to conscientious shopping, were outdated, as if it were “old news.” When searching for articles pertaining to conscientious shopping, I was directed to an article written in 1999 whose external links on the topic had all closed down. Has the media lost interest in spreading important awareness about topics such as this?

Bloomberg Businessweek had a few articles pertaining to unethical business practices within the Walmart Corporation concerning treatment of its own employees and interpretation of the corporation’s ethical codes. A Walmart employee, strictly operating under Walmart’s policy of reporting any suspicious activity among other employees, reported her superior for what seemed like insider trading. The company covered the superior, claiming that what she did was only mistaken as insider trading. The identity of the lower employee was disclosed to the higher manager without her consent and the employee was discharged by Walmart to be transferred to another store. However, it’s not guaranteed that she will be reinstated in another store within 90 days. After 90 days, the offer is null and the employee is out of luck. The media does a mediocre job of reporting about American companies for their internal unethical business practices, but what about where their products come from? I found no articles pertaining to where Walmart’s products come from, who really assembles them and how these facts are an even greater testament to Walmart’s unethical ways.

The news media needs a reality check concerning what it decides to cover. The educated community has no desire to read flighty articles about staying cool in the summertime. Audiences should be seeking solid information concerning topics that affect our world today, unethical business practices for instance. Whether we realize it or not, we are all consumers. We are all inherently connected to this system of exploitation and unfairness. Workers around the world are paid pennies per day to make products we use every day.

The news media, in this case, does not serve its audience well in informing them. A consumer is more likely to find important information on special websites such as http://www.aflcio.org/corporatewatch/stop/ and http://www.organiccoupons.org/blog/2008/10/50-must-read-blogs-for-the-conscientious-organic-shopper/. These websites are dedicated to spreading awareness about the painful truth of the industrial world and sharing tips for conscientious shopping.

By: Hannah

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