The media in the United States are among the freest in the world. Not only do they report on what is happening at home and abroad, but they help to create news by the very topics and issues they choose to investigate and highlight. Thus they carry far greater power and responsible than in more centralized societies. One result has been a continuing debate, both inside and outside the profession, as to how radio, television and the press can best discharge their obligations to the community. At the height of the racial disorders of the 1960s, for example, the media came under sharp criticism for failure to report adequately on the causes and consequences of civil disorders and the underlying problems of race relations. Subsequently, serious efforts have been made to broaden the involvement of minorities in the news-gathering process, and on the whole, there has been greater awareness of, and sensitivity to, race and intergroup relations. Despite these advances, there are still many areas where treatment of ethnic and religious groups in the media could be improved.
This report deals with one such area: the extremely popular radio "call-inâ program or âtalk showâ â" which has received little attention as a factor in intergroup relations. This study indicates that these broadcasts often seem to attract the most bigoted callers, who give voice to far more racial and religious hatred than is reflected in survey after survey of the nation at large.