The Effects of the Representation of Race in the News

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"In every city, complaints were heard that the newspaper's coverage of minorities -- while improved -- still was sporadic and marked by large gaps. Many of the complaints were similar to ones that have been voiced for years:

   -  That the newspaper was sending reporters into black and Hispanic communities mostly to cover crime, violence, poverty or drugs.

   -  That positive developments and improvement efforts in minority communities
rarely were covered. "
- Best Practices for Newspaper Journalism (page 43)

While I already touched on this topic in an earlier post when the subject of the representation of minorities in the media was first brought up in Haiman 1-16, I also wanted to share some of my other observations about news reporting in minority communities.

I was talking with a friend of mine, who grew up in a nearby rural area, about my Haiman 1-16 blog entry.  He mentioned that an African-American family moved in next door to his family while he was in High School, and that they were the only minorities his family knew.  His mother, while she could hardly be defined as a racist, was extremely distrustful of their new neighbors.  Something I did not get to address as much as I would have liked to in my original article were the actual effects of negative news reporting about minority communities.  I mentioned in passing that the only time many Caucasians are exposed to minorities are in news reports, and with no other frame of reference, their opinions will often be shaped by the negative news reports that are far too pervasive. 

Aside from local crime in inner-city communities, which always makes headline news on TV, the only other stories covered are the reactions of the community to the crimes.  While this is an attempt to be balanced and unbiased, the story is still at it's core, a negative news story.  While a local news organization may cover a local rally against violence, or an event to promote peace that brings the community together, these events are always in response to violence or other crimes.  I mentioned to my friend about how there are always many special interest and evergreen news stories about non-minorities that has nothing to do with their race, but if there is a special interest story about an African-American or another minority, their background and race always places a factor into the story.

Original Assignment

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