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RUNNING HEAD: Beyond Ideology: A Conceptual Analysis

Beyond Ideology: A Conceptual Analysis


Madison D. Allen
North Greenville University
March 17, 2014
MCOM-4310-Media Ethics

Beyond Ideology: A Conceptual Analysis

Abstract
Dr. Reginald Ecarmas esteemed book entitled, Beyond Ideology discusses the issue of
egalitarian bias in the media, particularly in the news. Egalitarianism is the idea that everyone is
equal and that all individuals are of equal value both socially and fundamentally. Throughout his
work, readers see how influential the media is and how egalitarianism is warping world culture.

Beyond Ideology: A Conceptual Analysis

Beyond Ideology: A Conceptual Analysis


The news is how individuals of society receive current events and form opinions on how
to live life thereafter. All things media can be some of the most powerful influences in the world
today. In chapter one, readers learn more about egalitarianism and its ever growing power in the
media. An example of the medias anxious desire to directly control and filter the news may be
NBC news Gwen Ifills reaction to news reporting by sources other than the mainstream
media.the unfiltered news may allow people to make their own decisions (Ecarma, 5). As
consumers of the egalitarian newsroom, there is no certainty of the content consumers are
receiving. Whoever is in control of editing and piecing the packages together have a hold of what
viewers see and what opinions they eventually form. In our world today, everyone is loved and
everyone is equal and everyone is accepted.
According to Wildavskys cultural theory, there is a positive relationship between news
media culture and news media coverage. The theoretical relationship between the political
culture of the news media and political news media content may be developed from studies
examining news coverage and possible media bias of a cultural nature (Ecarma, 10).
The author discusses Wildavskys cultural theory and how it can be categorized into four
different cultures: hierarchical, individualist, egalitarian, and fatalistic. Theories would say that
the newsroom is prominently egalitarian in this present day. Without further research, one could
choose to either immediately accept or immediately reject such a claim. As cited in Beyond
Ideology,

Beyond Ideology: A Conceptual Analysis


This study accepts the invitation and hopes to further develop admirable work,
according to political communication theorists Nimmo and Swanson (1990), to generate
expected differences in patterns of political communication in each culture as well as attempt to
build a more credible theoretical framework (p.39) (Ecarma, 11).

Chapter two is entitled, Literature Review and it does exactly that. More information
on Wildavskys hypothesis is explored in depth. Aaron Wildavsky founded the school of Public
policy and he was also a member of the Survey Research Center at the University of California.
In addition to those accomplishments, Wildavsky served as the president of the American
Political Science Association from 1986-1987. He had a Judaic background and became highly
interested in culture and Biblical themes.An intriguing concept the author brought to readers
attention was, he opposed the free-speech movement because of its purposeless fanaticism.
He decided that his classroom was not to be used as a launching pad for political action (21).
That statement was extremely profound and something that is not common in todays time.
Whether it be a classroom, a film, a song, or a television show, most public figures use whatever
platform they have to impose their politics onto consumers. Consumers just want the product,
without the producers forcing their belief systems in any way they can. I greatly respect
Wildavskys view on free-speech and not using his platform as a launching pad. Wildavsky used
the Bible as part of his research and, From Scripture, Wildavsky saw leadership as a
consequence of a societys regime. In this biblical view, he noted that different cultures or
wayas of life contain strong implications for how leaders shall behave in regard to followers
(1984, p.5) (21). The Bible compelled him to reformulate his original hypothesis. As cited in
Beyond Ideology, If the answer to the problem of social order is to institutionalize

Beyond Ideology: A Conceptual Analysis


inequality, then this would be a regime or a culture founded on a hierarchy (p.5) (21). If a
culture continuously practices individualistic behaviors, that leadership will only be temporary.
Much like the ways our world works today, that kind of leadership will only last until its
immediate, intended purpose is fulfilled. The world and all of its inhabitants live very selfish,
self-gratifying lives. Ecarma explains that the whole idea of individualism is self-regulation and
is quite similar to a Libertarian view where, they favor bidding and bargaining in order to
reduce the need for bargaining in order to reduce their need for authority and where equal
opportunitywith a minimum of external interference is the rule (31). Ecarma then went into
detail on what each branch meant. The egalitarian culture, while also calling for sacrifice, does
so in a voluntary fashion for the sake of equality (33). Institutionalized authority belongs in the
hierarchical model. Hierarchy justifies inequality on grounds that specialization and division of
labor enable people to live together with greater harmony and effectiveness (Wildavsky, 1987,
p.6-7) (33). The fatalistic culture is comprised of people who believe that present and future
circumstances are totally outside of their control (Wildavsky, 1987, p. 7) (33). Identifying and
understanding the various forms of culture is crucial in consuming media and consuming its
influence.
Chapter three is entitled, Methodology and it describes the research hypothesis
and the analysis used for the cultural theory approach used to examine the research. Metaanalysis is used in this study as a mean to examine studies through a specific theoretical
framework or lens (59). As cited in, Beyond Ideology,
Although this method traditionally involves the statistical integration of the results of
independent studies on a given subject (Johnson & Turco, 1992, p. 388), the nature of the

Beyond Ideology: A Conceptual Analysis


studies chosen will not allow for direct statistical comparison because of the different measures
used to operationalize the variables of interest (59).
In addition to the meta-analytic approach, there is another framework used called,
middle-range analysis. As explained earlier in the book,
Merton concentrated on the theories of the middle range, defining them as theories
that lie between the minor, but necessary working hypothesis that evolve in abundance during
day-to-day research and the all-inclusive systematic efforts to develop a unified theory that will
explain all the observed uniformities of social behavior, social organization and social change
(p. 39) (60).
In this book, political culture and bias in the news media are mere concepts, but the
theoretical hypothesis presents a positive correlation between the two. The theoretical
hypothesis is limited in scope to the relationship between the news media content and egalitarian
media bias within the confines of Wildavskys cultural theory (61). The results of these
hypothesis and theories show a fairly high rate of reliability. Wildavsky argued that during the
past several years, growing dominance of egalitarianism impacts significantly the news media
coverage (Wildavsky, 1991, pp. 63-98) Wildavskys research proved to show how much of an
impact egalitarianism has had on the news. As time goes on, egalitarianism grows more and
more prominent in how consumers are to receive the news media.
Chapter four is entitled, Results and in this chapter, Ecarma discusses and
assesses the particular objects of analysis in Wildavskys view. The author uses a coding process
to produce the results. Results were produced from each individual study and were each

Beyond Ideology: A Conceptual Analysis


determined to fit into three different categories: hierarchy, individualism, and egalitarianism.
Ecarma presents a research question for readers to ponder,
Can the evidences of a dominant cultural perspective, as compared to the common
liberal/conservative categories, be explained by one of the three active cultures proposed by
Wildavskyhierarchy, egalitarianism, and individualism. Specifically the research hypothesis is
as follows: The content of network television news broadcast, as reflected in 45 media studies
over a 16-year period in the U.S. mirrors an egalitarian-dominated news culture as described by
Wildavskys theory of media culture. (77).
The generic research question examined the coverage of ABC, NBS, and CBS
evening news and their preferences. Through this coding process, the following process
was found through the examination of the 45 selected studies: four studies reflected a
hierarchical political culture, three studies reflected an individualistic political culture and
38 studies reflected an egalitarian political culture (78).
Results showed that only four out of the forty five studies reflect a hierarchical
political media culture. A content analysis study is then performed and should include a
direct application of a cultural theory.
Chapter five was simply entitled, Discussion and it discussed implications of
the findings, necessary future studies, and other issues. In America, the media is
receiving increasingly more attention and more influence on a national scale. However,
very little research has been conducted on the culture of news media sources and their
product. Under a cultural theory, this kind of study can represent a kind of bridge
between political coverage and news coverage. In addition, the media sources chosen

Beyond Ideology: A Conceptual Analysis


have been recognized as representative and responsible news; these sources are
considered leaders in reporting the news to the nation (93). Where do we go from here?
Reclassifying and aanalyzing significant media studies about ideology have shown a
developing pattern of an egalitarian culture bias (93). Future researchers can help in
forging a new direction for media to go in. This is where a meta-analytic approach comes
into play. Producers need to offer a new kind of balanced press.
A first practical step toward a balanced press begins with Epsteins (1974)
findings about network organizations. He instructed that any substantial improvement in
the level of network journalismwould therefore require a structural change in network
television which would effectively reorder the economic and political incentives, rather
than merely a change of personel (pp. 268-269) (111).
Producers of the news need to emphasize the facts in a non-biased fashion. Rather
than take sides and one political point of view, let the consumers develop their own view.
Rather than carry on the egalitarian theme, take up a non-biased, factual theme.

Beyond Ideology was a very interesting book packed with all sorts if facts,
figures, and statistics. I truly have gained much more knowledge about egalitarianism and
its ever growing presence in the media. I hope to make a difference by presenting and
reporting just the facts and no bias opinions. The world is in need of honest, genuine
news. Otherwise, we are merely receiving someones fabricated story shown through
their own rose colored glasses.

Beyond Ideology: A Conceptual Analysis


Sources:
E, R. E. (2003).Beyond Ideology Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America.