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"If Nobody Gripes, It Must Be Okay!"

That's the attitude of those who produce sexual magazines, movies, videos, television shows, etc. People, on the other hand, feel helpless and overwhelmed at trashy television and inappropriate pictures. They feel there's nothing they can do. NOT TRUE! There's a lot we can do! This is the essence of a message from Teresa Tomeo, former anchor-woman/reporter/news director in Detroit (The Morality in Media Newsletter, January/February 2002). She turned to fighting what the media was doing to children and families as she was overwhelmed by the amount of research connecting behavior, primarily in children, and what they're exposed to in the media.

Teresa states, "It used to be that the local radio and TV stations were owned by the mom-and-pop family-owned media companies. They had a vested interest in the community, their kids went to the schools, and they went to the churches. That's not the case any more." The people who own NBC (General Electric), also own other huge media outlets. A handful of these huge media conglomerates own everything that we read, that we watch, that we view, that we listen to "We're talking about magazines, videos, newspapers, movies, video games-all of these companies are tied together." As she puts it, they "push the edge of the envelope and go as far as they can go.

"Studies show a tie between media exposure and sexual activity among teens, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the use of alcohol, the use of tobacco, the use of drugs-it's all tied together."

How can concerned people make a difference?
  1. Join an activist organization, suggests Teresa Tomeo. She lists Morality in Media (475 Riverside Dr, Suite 239, New York, NY 10115), the American Decency Association, Focus on the Family (P.O. Box 35500, Colorado Springs, Co 80935-3550), or Parents TV Council (P.O. Box 7802, Burbank CA 91510-9817, www.ParentsTV.org).
  2. People need to speak up. "People need to realize that they have a lot of power. There's an old adage in broadcasting, that for every person that writes a letter or e-mail, …there's a thousand other people who feel the same way." One store owner said that if six to eight people made a similar request in a two-week period of time, he made a change in his store.
  3. Meet with station managers, go to editorial board meetings of newspapers and request meetings with general managers and news directors. You can say that you represent thousands of people because you do," states Teresa Tomeo. "A lot of liberal organizations are very well organized, and they're very vocal about meeting with the media. They come to editorial board meetings of newspapers and request meetings with general managers and news directors." She goes on to state that general managers are willing to meet and to listen. You might say in the meeting. "We represent our neighborhood, our town or our church and we are concerned about your coverage." Teresa points out that when you say, "You are unfair," management quickly get concerned about a lawsuit.
  4. Writing one letter won't always do it, but we need to realize it is a start. Then, keeping in touch with the manager, monitoring what he is doing, and building a relationship with him, will help you make a difference.
  5. Get a group of six or eight people to help you. They might be family members or a neighborhood or church group. The public was outraged last summer with a J.C. Penney commercial, and when in this case, unsolicited, unorganized people flooded J.C. Penney with phone calls, they pulled the ad. Just turning off the TV doesn't do it, although that is a very good idea.. We cannot afford to not be vocal. If we aren't, management thinks that what they do must be okay.
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