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Media Literacy: Representation and Stereotypes in the Media

How do the media represent people and groups?

The media represent, or portray, people and groups through language, images, sounds, nonverbal gestures and other symbolic forms. Choices about these representations are largely made by writers, editors and producers -- positions dominated by white men -- and are thus influenced by their implicit and explicit biases. Representations of people and groups who are not in these positions of power are often based on stereotypes rather than lived experiences, or omitted completely. (Conversely, diversity in positions of power, along with efforts to reject stereotypes and incorporate people's real, lived experiences into their media representations, can change this dynamic.) Since media representations strongly impact consumers' perceptions about people and groups, they can be both shaped by, and help to shape (or dismantle) stereotypes.

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