Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture: Why Media Is Not the Answer

Karen Sternheimer, Author . Westview $33 (322p) ISBN 978-0-8133-4417-1

Sternheimer (Kids These Days ) unpacks the media's penchant for sensationalizing and misdirecting public discourse about the real causes of poverty, disease, materialism, sexual license and substance abuse. She argues that news coverage engages in misleading “media phobia”—blaming popular culture for entrenched social problems by fingering convenient scapegoats (e.g., movies, video games, rap music) for teen pregnancy, lower educational attainment and violence. Sternheimer illustrates how reports of children's increased violence after video-game use are based almost entirely on spurious or contradictory studies, and how arguments about media phobia deflect attention away from such basic issues as unequal access to skills, education, jobs and resources: the “real culprits” and causal links the media ignores. Revealing how frequently—and perniciously—social research is manipulated, Sternheimer demonstrates how to hold the media accountable while addressing the more entrenched and salient problem of child poverty that she believes is to blame. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 05/25/2009
Release date: 08/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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