Scientific and humanist theories of the media state that long-term exposure to media does have an influence on the way reality is informed, perceived and shaped (Rivadeneyra et al, 2007). Through messaging, the media produces and reproduces imagery that at a minimum reflects and shapes our culture. It has been argued that in relation to minority representation, mass media produces and reproduces stereotypes that places individuals as cultural “others”.
When contact with individuals from that group is established, interpretation of experiences is based on what has been learnt from the media. Given that reporting serves as a vehicle for shaping the opinion of the public, one-dimensional reporting does not do justice to the subjects of the report. In the context of reporting about Africa, the one-dimensional coverage tends to be reductionist and superficial with a focus on devastation, despair, tragedy and violence that perpetuates a racially-charged denigrating and dehumanizing negative image (Dersso, 2014). Research by Elias and Lemish (2008) showed the host country media shapes and spreads negative stereotypes of immigrants, and exposure to them causes feelings of alienation among immigrants towards the host society and fosters their social segregation (Noronha & Papoutsaki, 2014). Ultimately, the continuous biased reporting has done nothing to promote the goal of multicultural equality in society (Curran & Park, 2000).
Numerous studies have sought to find the connection between the negative and biased portrayal of Africa in Western mainstream media and the impact that has on their integration into society. One of the critiques of these studies is that they are limited to the connections between media use and attitude without examining how new realities and representations can be created to counter the negative narratives (Rivadeneyra et al, 2007). With the emergence of new technologies and possibilities to exhibit and showcase cultural narratives, it has become imperative to consider alternative approaches in reporting to dismiss the vicious circle of minority representation.