One place where a “single story” is frequently perpetuated is the media, especially in news stories, where we only have a single perspective: the editor, who has the power to warp and twist perspectives and selectively choose stories. What news stations show us can hugely impact how we see a country, or a people; the news is a huge source for us to gain information and form opinions. Unfortunately, a lot of the news we hear and read is “bad” news: Stories of imbalances, of corruption, of violence, of poverty. Why? Because news companies are a business; and they rely on consumers to stay in business. We are entranced by these negative stories. As a result, we’ve become consumers to negative, harmful media. This focus harms the people who the news is about, whether Indigenous peoples or Africans. This imbalance “robs people of dignity”, says author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.” When we allow our perceptions to be controlled by a “single story” we no longer see these groups as people, as equals. That’s why it’s important to question and be critical of the media. There simply aren’t enough perspectives in mainstream media to maintain the different narratives needed for anything close to a full understanding of different cultures. Media often profits from a perceived sense of disparity and difference, creating these views with a constant stream of negative content. To challenge the idea of a single story, we need to question this difference. We’re all human, and not allowing a wedge to drive us apart will allow us to help each other and gain a deeper understanding of our different struggles, cultures, and beliefs. Challenging the stereotype of the single story allows us to restore a sense of dignity and humanity in those who have been victimized by the media.
Some interesting things that I came across while writing this:
The World According to the Guardian: Countries Proportional to the Prevalence of News Articles About Them (note how big the United States are)