Social Movement and Power in Media

by Chika Yamamoto

The video we watched in the class shows that a woman confessed the frustration towards authority and media. I watched the demonstration for the nuclear power plants in Japan on media several times on TV; however, it was not as detailed as the video we watched. Media just shows what the demonstration was like and tells the fact that there was a demonstration in media’s point of view. I think what makes it really difficult to deliver the purpose of the demonstration and feeling of people joining is the power of authority and media. Historically social movements experienced those difficulties. But, I guess we in 21st century have to change this and beat the power inequality to make social movements more meaningful and powerful. So, how should media be and other people who rely on the news be?

One of the historical examples of social movements is civil right movement in United States of America. This movement caught huge attention both in United States and foreign countries. Around late 1950, some of the people in the north part of America, who watched news about the civil right movement and noticed what was happening in the south part of America, realized they have to do something to solve this problem. So, people in the north part of America especially students came to the south and took part in the sit in movements and so on. Also, during that time America concerns a lot about how other countries look at America because of cold war. If this cruel reality of racism were spread all over the world by media, it would have strong influence on the situation of cold war. So, the federal government was really afraid of spreading terrible image of America having racism and tried to solve the problem as soon as possible by protecting activists and participants of demonstration from the violent oppression form states government in the south. I think foreign media and other media telling about the situation played really important role in this case. It increases the awareness about the racism in America and brought people to solve this problem. But, the framing of that situation in the south was really different. They felt that the federal government was occupying their places and robbed the right of their self-government. The way media in the south explained about this situation would have been really different from the way other media did.

From this example, I think media plays really different role about social movements depend on the framings. And I believe the media always tell news in how the media wants to deliver considering the benefits. In the case of nuclear power plants, media may have huge pressure from the government and electric power companies. If that tie is really strong, the media cannot say positively about the demonstration. Of course I think media should fairly tell the truth without being based on their benefits, but it has its own framing either negative or positive. So, I think we should not rely on news delivered by one particular media. It sometimes is better to look at the issues in Japan from foreign media that probably has different framing. Probably there are some organizations trying to tell the truth based on the real voice like the video we watched. Framing from authority which has power still has huge influence on media, so we should change the way we look at the information and develop our critical view and analyzing skill of framing.

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