Media Plays Role in Perpetuating Stereotypes, Say TV Viewers

(Image credit: CNN)

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y.—A majority of TV viewers believe that the coverage from the media on issues like the ongoing protests over the killing of George Floyd plays a role in perpetuating stereotypes by focusing on the riots, looting and violence that has occurred, according to studies conducted by market research firm Horowitz Research.

Horowitz’s State of Viewing & Streaming 2020 study found that 58% of TV viewers agreed that TV is the best way to get in-depth news and reporting, but an equal percentage of respondents believe that the media plays a very big role in reinforcing stereotypes. The trust in TV news does differentiate between age groups—33% of 18-24 year olds think TV is best source of in-depth news and reporting; that rises to 56% for 25-34 year olds and to 64% for those 35 and older.

“Some networks and media outlets have faced backlash over coverage of the protests, with critics pointing to outlets’ tendency to focus on the negative—the riots, the looting, the violence—rather than empathy with the expression of rage over overt racism and a system that seems to deny that Black lives matter,” said Adriana Waterston, Horowitz’s senior vice president of Insights and Strategy. “For decades, TV news has been one of the primary ways that the American public has stayed informed. Trust, engagement and context, not just viewership, are critical for brands and advertisers. That cultural connection is now the immediate challenge and responsibility for major TV and cable networks to stay relevant.”

The study also found that 68% of viewers say that they feel it is important that the media represent diverse people and communities in the U.S. in ways that challenge and break stereotypes.

Waterston said that young people do not feel that older members of their family who rely heavily on TV news are getting a “well-rounded picture” of the protests, something that young people believe they have through social media platforms.

“Can the major broadcast and cable outlets rise to the challenge of providing truth and perspective and less sensationalism” said Howard Horowitz, president of Horowitz Research.

The State of Viewing and Streaming 2020 study was conducted in March with more than 2,000 TV content viewers.

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