This issue of the Trotter Institute Review is devoted to the portrayal of blacks in the media. The mass media can be a positive or negative force in the struggle for racial progress. Unfortunately, the black community faces media that provide many negative influences. Consequently, there is a continuing need to address this issue.

The mass media is a major instrument of socialization in the American society. As such, it helps to determine how an individual sees the world. The prevailing definitions of social reality and social problems, as well as the characterization of groups of individuals, are learned through the process of socialization. And socialization is one of the consequences of media exposure.

The media are generally seen as functioning as an agency of socialization in two ways. On the one hand media reinforce existing values and attitudes. For example, attitudes a person may have regarding another racial group are reinforced when similar values and attitudes are expressed in the media, implicitly as well as explicitly. In addition, the media may function as a source of norms and values. In other words, the media may provide the initial definitions of social phenomena. One student of the media has argued that where local cultures offer no solid guide for what is good or bad in a particular situation, the media may reach a person directly and carry heavy weight in such value definition.


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