Baylor JPR &NM Professor Publishes Book on Media Portrayal of President & Mrs. Obama

November 21, 2013
Mia book cover

By Haley Hester, Public Relations student

Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, associate professor at Baylor University, is publishing a new book entitled "The Obamas and Mass Media: Race, Gender, Religion and Politics," a work that explores the portrayals of African Americans in mass media, placing an emphasis on the first African American president and first lady.

Dr. Moody-Ramirez has been working on the book for four to five years. Based on previous research, the book focuses on how the media frames underrepresented groups. Her coauthor is Jannette Dates, Dean Emerita of the School of Communications and professor in the department of Radio, Television, and Film at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

"Although journalists try to be objective, it's difficult because of the individual ideas and values they bring to the table," Dr. Moody-Ramirez said. "However, through awareness, journalists can become less likely to infuse stereotypes and negative frames of minorities and women into their articles."

Moody-Ramirez encourages people to be aware of negative stereotypes and negative frames in their publications.
"I hope my research will lead to literacy programs that teach adolescents how to become discerning media consumers who seek diverse viewpoints and carefully scrutinize negative portrayals of all marginalized groups," she said.

"The Obamas and Mass Media: Race, Gender, Religion and Politics" offers a window into media representations of African Americans through existing publications, placing an emphasis on the media's portrayal of the Obamas.

"The Obamas and Mass Media: Race, Gender, Religion and Politics is a systematic chronicle of the ways, subtle and overt, that the various facets and outlets of the national and social media covered the candidacy and presidency of America's first African American president," said Robert Darden, associate professor of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media at Baylor University.

"Dates and Moody-Ramirez have assembled the definitive book on the mass media's often troubling depiction of race in the United States," Darden said. "Readable, profusely documented, insightful and challenging, the book is both essential and overdue, a fascinating look at a sometimes heart-breaking subject. Highly recommended."

Studying the book is beneficial for those interested in communications studies, African American history, sociology or political science. Dr. Moody-Ramirez advises people to read her work for the purpose of correcting misrepresentations of minorities in the media.

"It's empowering for me and for other people," Dr. Moody-Ramirez said. "It helps reporters realize what they're doing, and it helps reporters avoid stereotypes in the media."

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About Dr. Moody-Ramirez & Her Research Contributions

Dr. Moody-Ramirez is the author of many published articles, some of which are included in the American Communication Journal, Public Relations Review and the Journal of Magazine & New Media Research.

Dr. Moody-Ramirez earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, two master's degrees from Baylor University and a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University. She served as former editor and publisher of Elegant Woman Magazine and former managing editor of Continuing Care and Home Healthcare magazines. She has also served as a columnist for the Waco Tribune-Herald from 1990 to 1997, and was a reporter and intern at the Bryan-College Station Eagle from 1988 to 1990.

An avid media consumer all of her life, she has always been exposed to the mass media portrayals of African Americans and other minorities, knowing she wanted to change that, she said.

This book examines her desire to change some stereotypes of minorities by writing about the Obama family and their experience with mass media.

"The Obamas and Mass Media: Race, Gender, Religion and Politics" provides an argument that mass media reflects social views and ideologies. The book concerns race and identity shown through the momentous occasions of the Obama administration.

"Through poignantly illustrated case studies, Moody-Ramirez and Dates inform our understanding of how American institutions have distorted the African American voice in our national politics," said Dr. Tom Mascaro, associate professor at Bowling Green State University.

In his words, this book may lead to opportunities to "redesign our newest media channels."
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