Media Imagery of Cities and Suburbs
The media plays an important role in influencing how people view different aspects of city or suburban life. In the recent past, different types of popular media have increasingly become involved in relaying information to people regarding cities and suburbs. However, being the age of technological advancement, the internet has also become a hub of information about cities and suburbs. The information relayed on the internet usually supports the existing stereotypes of city or suburban life. In this paper, I will focus on the portrayal of cities and suburbs by internet sites. The internet uses text and images to give people a feeling of what life in certain place feels like. The aim of this information is to ensure that people understand what to expect when moving into or visiting a certain place. Tourism forms a major part of the economy of most cities in the United States. The focus of this paper is how internet sites meant for attracting tourists portray the differences in life styles of the city and suburbs. The analysis is on the New York City, which represents the media portrayal of cities and the West Nyack suburb, which represents the suburban portrayal. In addition, I will use two websites that are both focused on tourism for the New York City and West Nyack. In summary, popular media portrays cities very differently, from how they portray suburbs.
When a person first opens the New York tourist website, it is notable that the site is filled with images that are attractive to the eye. This attracts the immediate attention of the reader. There is so much to see and read about New York on this website. The links at the top of the website give a tourist the impression that there are many fun activities to be done in the city. There are restaurants, theatre guidelines, sports, attractions, tours, nightlife, museums, and events among others (NYCTourist.com, 2010). All theses activities are geared towards entertainment and there is very little about business or education in this site. As a viewer scrolls down, images of New York hotels are seen, with pictures of rooms with a scenic view, wine and well organized lounges. The images also display a sense of elegance and style. As one continues, there are images of people dancing, Broadway shows, musical events, sporting events and other attractions that the city has to offer (NYCTourist.com, 2010). At the bottom of the site, more images of the city are displayed giving links for a person who wants to find out more. This website has so much to offer including holidays, transportation services, maps among other details, which might be of interest to any tourist.
West Nyack is a suburban village associated with the New York City. The proximity of the suburb to the city gives makes it a suitable choice for a comparison between the portrayals of city v. suburb in the media. I chose to analyze a site on West Nyack tourism on the trip advisor main website. This site is very different from the New York tourism site. The website is spacious as there are only a few images to describe the suburb. The links at the top of the site include hotels, vacation rentals, trip ideas and flights (TripAdvisor.com, 2010). These are fewer as compared to those of New York. The images of hotels are also not as elegant as those seen before. The hotel rooms are dull and the images are not attractive to the reader. The site gives a map for West Nyack and gives weather details for different months. The website is also characterized by advertisements of other places rather than the suburb itself. This distracts the attention of the reader who may view links to other places rather than focusing on West Nyack.
The images of New York City are positive, as they are likely to attract the attention of the reader. As the aim of the websites is to attract tourists, these images may help a person in making a decision to visit the city. In addition, the variety of activities portrayed in these images is good for publicizing the city. The colors used in this website are also attractive and portray a positive image of the city. However, the images can also play a negative role in the portrayal of the city. There are too many photos and text in this website, which depict the hectic nature of life in the city (NYCTourist.com, 2010). This is a biased portrayal since it is in support of the common stereotype that city life is too hectic. In support of this point, there are too many activities for people to choose from showing that in the city there are many things to choose from making it difficult to choose what to participate in. The images on the West Nyack website portray a negative side of the suburbs. This website gives few images that a person can use to form an opinion of the suburbs. The hotel rooms in this website are not as interesting as those in the city website (TripAdvisor.com, 2010). The images are uninteresting and do not spark an interest in the reader. However, the New York City images depicted that it was expensive to stay in the hotels picture, which is different in this case. These images are in support of popular stereotypes that life in the suburbs is boring. This website does not give a variety of activities to engage in while in West Nyack. A person viewing the two websites would conclude that life in the city is more interesting than life in the suburbs.
The websites analyzed in this paper portray a slightly over anti-suburban bias perspective. The designs of both websites seem to lean on the positives of urban life while degrading suburban life. The bias is seen in the portrayal of city life as better as opposed to suburban life. The website of New York City tourism exemplifies this idea, as the city is portrayed as full of excellent opportunities to have fun and enjoy their lives. The images support this bias because they do not give any analysis of the disadvantages of city life (Avraham & Ketter, 2008). In addition to this, the language used in this site is aimed at changing the opinion of other people. For example, under things to do in New York, the sports teams are described as the best in the world. A person reading this will form an opinion that city sports teams perform better than suburban teams. On the other hand, the website on West Nyack does little or nothing to attract the attention of people who may want to visit the suburb. The advertisements on the sides of the websites encourage people to visit the city rather than the suburb. The language is not focused on convincing a person that suburban life is interesting, in fact, this website does the opposite. It supports popular stereotypes, which claim that suburban life is unexciting.
In terms of fairness, the imagery in these websites does give fair credit to the city but does not do the same to the suburb. In order for images to be termed as fair, the same technology should be used to make the images attractive. In this case, the images in the city website are clear and colorful as opposed to those of the suburb site. In addition, the city website gives many images, which depict the different things that the city has to offer. In the West Nyack website, only a few images are given making it hard for a person to understand the real experience of life in the suburbs. The images in the New York City website represent the actual experience of city life with a little exaggeration on the positive side. On the other hand, the West Nyack website does not depict the real suburban life. The website could have incorporated more images that show the attractions of the suburb and its advantages over city life.
If an outsider were to look at these websites for the first time, they would have the perception that city life is better than suburban life. The images on these websites would help them form a positive opinion about the city as opposed to the suburb. In addition, a person would be more inclined to visit the city and experience the life that is depicted here. On the other hand, few people would find the suburban life interesting at all. These images give an impression of a people who love the high life and a society that is focused on living in the city. In addition, it portrays the society as being made up of people who view fun and entertainment as an essential part of their lives. This tells us that, we value the city as opposed to the suburbs. The popular media portrays issues, as the society would like to say it meaning that we have concluded that cities make life more interesting. In conclusion, the popular media and the society as a whole wants to highlight the positive side of city life while ignoring the negative side.
Avraham, E., & Ketter, E. (2008). Media strategies for marketing places in crisis: Improving the image of cities, countries, and tourist destinations. Amsterdam: Butterworth Heinemann.
NYCTourist.com. (2010). The no 1 online guide for New York City Tourism. Retrieved from http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g48852-West_Nyack_New_York-Vacations.html
TripAdvisor.com. (2010). West Nyack Vacations, Tourism and Travel. Retrieved from http://www.nyctourist.com/