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Racism in Media and Objective Coverage Term Paper


The Oxford Dictionaries define racism as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race” or the “belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race” (par. 1-2). Even nowadays, it is still a significant problem that deprives specific groups of various opportunities and resources including education and well-paid jobs (Ross par. 7-9). The issue of racism has been highlighted in media in different ways while its dangers were becoming evident to the wider public. Sanders, for example, indicates that the portrayal of black people in the media in the 1980s and 1990s was “demonizing,” and the outcomes of such demonization included the negative attitude to the people of color among the Americans (85).

The author provides an example of a white woman speaking about discrimination being an excuse since black people are not doing anything “except sitting on porches smoking pot” (Sanders 85). Another example of demonizing people of color is described by Erfani-Ghettani, who dwells on the case of Joy Gardner, a black woman killed in police custody in 1993. Erfani-Ghettani specifically focuses on the way Gardner was described as a “strong and violent woman” and the officers who had killed her (although they had denied it at first) were posed as the victims of reverse racism (105, 108). The author insists that the media used racism as a tool for the police to avoid punishment and ended up promoting discrimination against black people by enforcing the negative image of the woman. It can be concluded that several decades ago the media may not have been portraying the issue of racism objectively.

The so-called “reverse racism” mentioned in the article by Erfani-Ghettani is used to describe the discrimination directed against the white majority (Gessen par. 9). Therefore, it is racism as such, but this phrase is more likely to provide search results concerning the discrimination that is directed against white people. Such is the study by Harding that describes media coverage of two cases of child deaths in Canada. The media discussion of the non-Aboriginal child case led to suggestions for child welfare services improvement. The Aboriginal child’s death ended in the massive blaming of social workers. The news reports in the second case were more emotional, which, according to Harding, is a case of reverse racism (36).

The Internet and library search for racism as such proved to be more likely to bring the results concerning the discrimination against the people of color. All of the modern articles appear to oppose racism. For example, the article by Eligon is devoted to the recent case of Flint’s environmental issue and dwells on the consequences of racism and environmental discrimination against the non-white population (par. 1). The articles that described “reverse racism” provided a variety of opinions. One of them, the opinion article by Gessen is devoted to a personal example of reverse racism (par. 9). Another one is a comment on the celebrities’ opinions concerning the Oscar diversity debates. The author of the second article does not provide his personal opinion but presents various views and finishes with the quote of Michael Caine, who believes that Oscar is supposed to be awarded for the performance, not the race (Child par. 13).

The rest of the articles that have been encountered appear to disapprove of the idea of reverse racism. The article by Tankersley that is devoted to a study in the area of discrimination dismisses the idea of reverse racism, even though the research indicates that there is a possibility of payment discrimination against white people in basketball teams, which the National Basketball Association has avoided. In an article devoted to another recent research on the public opinion concerning discrimination, Ross explains that white people are healthier, wealthier, have better education, and live longer, which lets her conclude that the discrimination against white people is less of a problem than that against the people of color (par. 13). There appears to be a tendency to reject the idea of racism against the majority in modern media.

In this respect, the article by Byrd and Hughey is almost unique. The authors discuss the recent lawsuit case of a mother who insists that she had been inseminated with the sperm from a wrong donor and got a biracial child she did not want (Byrd and Hughey par. 1). Beginning with this issue, they discuss the notion of scientific racism, and here no discrimination can be found aimed at white or black people. This article targets racism as such and demonstrates its dangers.

It is also noteworthy that there is another level of discrimination in the media, which is more subtle. In the research carried out by The ColorOfChange, it is stated that black people are roughly half of those arrested for murder, assault, and theft, but the news coverage focuses on them, and 75% of the crimes appearing in news describe black assistants (11). This aspect, even though it does not deal directly with the news coverage of racism, testifies to the fact that objectivity in media is not always achieved.

The results of this personal study appear to reflect the current trend in journalism that is aimed at determining racism in mass media and eliminating it (Drew 353). However, the process seems to be gradual, and the issue of racism is still being portrayed controversially. As it has been demonstrated, the media has the chance of influencing the public perception of the problem, and the materials presented suggest that the one-sided view on racism that rejects the possibility of white people discrimination may become an issue.

Works Cited

Byrd, W. Carson, and Matthew W. Hughey. “Born That Way? ‘Scientific’ Racism Is Creeping Back into Our Thinking. Here’s What to Watch out For.” The Washington Post, 2015. Web.

Child, Ben. The Guardian, 2016. Web.

Drew, Emily M. “‘Coming to Terms with Our Own Racism’: Journalists Grapple with the Racialization of Their News.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 28.4 (2011): 353-373. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web.

Eligon, John. “A Question of Environmental Racism in Flint.” The New York Times, 2016. Web.

Erfani-Ghettani, R. “The Defamation of Joy Gardner: Press, Police and Black Deaths in Custody”. Race & Class 56.3 (2014): 102-112. SAGE. Web.

Gessen, Masha J. The New York Times, 2015. Web.

Harding, Robert. “News Reporting on Aboriginal Child Welfare: Discourses of White Guilt, Reverse Racism, and Failed Policy.” Canadian Social Work Review 26.1 (2009): 25-41. ProQuest. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web.

Ross, Janell. “White Americans Long for the 1950s, When They Didn’t Face so Much Discrimination.” The Washington Post, 2015. Web.

Sanders, Joshunda. How Racism and Sexism Killed Traditional Media. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2013. Print.

Tankersley, Jim. “Great News! We Fixed Racism. Against White People. In the NBA.” The Washington Post, 2014. Web.

The ColorOfChange. News Accuracy Report Card. The ColorOfChange, 2015. PDF file.

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