Response to Deconstructing an Enemy

Using the tool of framing, the conclusions that the audiences of the mainstream newspapers are forced to reach about Japanese-Americans is that they are warmongers, saboteurs and proponents of espionage. This does not matter whether the Japanese-Americans are accused of those acts or not. Rather, the conclusions that the audiences of the mainstream newspapers are forced to reach with regard to Japanese-Americans come about because the mainstream newspapers discuss the Japanese-Americans majorly in such settings. These newspapers discuss the Japanese and the Japanese Americans in the context of war-prone and war-related activities. The mainstream newspapers also set a platform for the Japanese Americans to come out and defend themselves stating that they are not warmongers, saboteurs or proponents of espionage. However, when they do so, they strengthen the notion that some people think that they are.

As the author of Deconstructing an Enemy observed, the mainstream newspapers used a one-dimensional caricature when dealing with news of the three countries that the U.S was at war with during that time namely Japan, Germany and Italy. He gives the example of a story published in the San Francisco Chronicle on 1 February 1942 that depicted Germany as humane in war when they warned people when sinking a U.S tanker. The same day, the Chronicle also reported the Japanese as dangerous, spy networks and saboteurs (Gougis).  

Therefore, the conclusions that Japanese Americans are warmongers, saboteurs and proponents of espionage are formed by the media representation by putting the Japanese Americans in a scenario that points to them as such and lays evidence as opposed to other groups of people like the Germans. The words used in the media newspapers and the justifications make the audiences of those newspapers conclude that all Japanese Americans are warmongers, saboteurs and proponents of espionage because of the characteristics that they are sneaky, violent and dishonest.

In addition, they make their audiences to believe so because when talking about issues in the context of war, they decided to live certain information that would help demystify that belief or conclusions about the Japanese Americans. In this stance, therefore, the silence portrayed by the Rafu Shimpo brought up fertile grounds for negative stereotyping where their audiences believed that, if the newspapers, being major agents of information, do not refute those claims as purported, then the claims must be true. When talking about issues of war, the newspapers referred to Italian and German political leaders who were pro-war as Fascists and Nazis. However, when talking about the Japanese leaders, the newspapers just referred to them as Japanese (Gougis).

Using the tool of framing, the conclusion that the audiences of Rafu Shimpo are forced to reach about Japanese-Americans is that they are loyal to the United States of America victory in war. This can be seen, for instance, in the front page of Rafu Shimpo on 8 February 1942. The newspaper makes its audiences conclude that Japanese Americans are not in war and the associated issues but could be interested in other things, such as community, family and the general good of the U.S. The conclusions are formed by those media representations because they put the audience in a position to see a different side of the Japanese Americans that differs with the information provided in the mainstream media. The newspaper gives its audience evidence of the characters of the Japanese by displaying them as normal people, for instance, stating that they are Boy Scouts, youth basketball athletes and members of the YMCA among others (Gougis).

Using the key ideas of media studies from first day of class, the depictions of the same group of people (Japanese Americans) are so different in the two categories (mainstream and ethnic) of newspapers because of different reasons. The first reason is that the majority of communication takes place with the mass commercial media. In this case, the mainstream media is the mass commercial media and it serves a wide scope of audience. The mainstream media was responsible for the information that Japanese Americans are violent, saboteurs, warmongers, dishonest and sneaky. On the other hand, the ethnic (Rafu Shimpo) newspaper serves a narrow scope of audience. This means that despite the fact that it carries good information about the characteristics of Japanese Americans; the newspaper does not reach large masses who comprise of non-Japanese American audiences who believe otherwise.

Secondly, while the major goal of the ethnic (Rafu Shimpo) newspaper is to inform, the major goal of the mainstream newspapers, as mass commercial media, is to maximize profits. Therefore, the mainstream newspapers will only publish information that its audiences want to read as opposed to publish issues that are meant to inform. Therefore, the depictions of the Japanese Americans are different because one media carries information to inform while the other carries information based on the readers’ expectations to make profit. The mainstream media does not care whether the information is true or not as long as it sells.

For both newspapers (mainstream and ethnic) to sell, they must carry the information that advances the outlets’ economic goals. Therefore, the two categories depict the same group of people in different ways in order to achieve economic importance, judging by the fact that the two categories of newspapers serve different types of audiences who have different constructions of the Japanese Americans and the needs that they require the newspapers to address. Therefore, if they do not communicate the information that their audiences expect, considering that communication is how people learn what the world is like, then they will not make their desired economic returns (Gougis).

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