Journalism and African Americans

Diversity and Perspective

Authored by: Cheryl D. Jenkins

The Routledge Companion to Media and Race

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138020726
eBook ISBN: 9781315778228
Adobe ISBN: 9781317695837


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Media coverage of alleged police brutality, the shooting deaths of unarmed African-American men and women by police, and the subsequent protests in response to those actions again in 2014 and 2015 brought to the forefront the failures of mainstream journalism to report critically on issues concerning race in America. Mainly relying on episodic rather than thematic perspective in their reporting, most journalists still seem to lack the ability to provide appropriate context to explain the complexities surrounding issues of race in this country. Quill, a magazine published by the Society of Professional Journalists, in 2015 observed:

We live in what is supposed to be a post-racial era. As a result, many reporters seem to have accepted the ideology that the best way to be even-handed is to ignore race altogether…. Even as protestors continue to take to the streets, we still see relatively little reporting on documented racial gaps in education, health, employment and accumulated wealth…. Journalists have a responsibility to do more than report on the latest news developments, relying on whatever sources are handy. We should weave a web of information that ties people together across the demographic spectrum, supporting everyone’s involvement in the democratic process.

(Lehrman 2015: 31)

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