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How Media "Teaches us to Love Fear"*

“what if the mass media are, in effect, teaching us to see the world in ways that will, ultimately, lead to disaster?” (Dixon, "Teaching you to Love Fear: Television News and Racial Stereotypes in a Punishing Democracy")

When we watch television, we learn to fear our neighbors, and to expect criminal activity. Worse, those fears work to reinforce our preexisting stereotypes about poor folks, non-white people, drugs and those who use them, and the prison environment. We learn to think that crime is much more common than it actually is, and we base our daily decisions on that faulty belief.

The media continue to sell us what we want. As Dr. Dixon explains in our interview, in a culture packed with digital media, "people's experience is a mediated experience." Most of what we know about people who are not like us--people who practice different religions than we do, or folks in a different socio-economic bracket, or members of races outside our own--we learn it from media, not personal experience. It is much easier to watch a film about prison than it is to study and visit various prisons and figure out a small piece of the truth.

Dr. Travis Dixon joins me on S2 E9: How the Media is Teaching you to Love Fear. We talk about the faulty logic of positive stereotypes, mediated experience, methods for avoiding and overcoming media bias, "ethnic blame discourse," and what happens when we watch the local news.

* Title, "Teaching you to Love Fear," is from Travis Dixon's chapter in Challenging the Prison-Industrial Complex: Activism, Arts & Educational Alternatives.

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