From: Lenie Kucera
CC: Erica Ruscio
Date: December 11, 2014
Subject: How Does the Media Play a Role in Race and Crime
One of the biggest social problems in today’s society is the growth of racism in contemporary news coverage and how racial expectations are negatively portrayed through major crime stories. Racism has been a subtly increasing social problem in the media with the stereotypical perceptions of different ethnicities. In relation to racism, simple ideas such as welfare and poverty quickly allow people to conclude correlations to African American or Hispanic families, whereas big, suburban houses and successful, wealthy people are often associated to the Caucasian (white) race. This problem is oftentimes unconscious and unintentional among television directors as they cast different shows throughout the day; however, some television shows may be aware that they are racist in their programs. Sometimes people actively and intentionally devalue and treat people associated with groups other than their own as if they are lesser or unequal (Debes, Goins and Gray 174). I wish to explain to you as the current Managing Director of CNN the effects contemporary news coverage has on race through crime, and how racial expectations or stereotypes are perpetuated through major important crime stories covered in the news media.
Contemporary News Coverage:
The way news media programs cover stories influences people. Research shows that an increasing amount of news programs rely heavily on crime to gain viewers. It is a simple and easy way to gain viewers as it is “easy to find, cheap to produce, and comes complete with gripping visuals and dramatic accounts of personal tragedy and turmoil (Gilliam).” However, that news coverage distorts reality, contributing to negative associations of criminality with black people. Research also shows that public opinion is influenced greatly by impersonal influences such as media because it plays a significant role in portraying racial segregation or how people develop racial attitudes. The underlying assumption is that since most whites do not have personal experiences with blacks, such information is obtained through media reports (Poindexter). Since local television news are now becoming the dominant source of public affairs information they are beginning to hold an increasing amount of influence on how society views race as a social structure.
Though news media may negatively cover racial programs, there are still other aspects such as living conditions and locations that have an effect on how the news media may affect their perceptions of race. Due to their position at the intersection of various social, political and economic environments, news outlets such as CNN have become a crucial way for viewers to gain knowledge. A study done in December 2012 took a variety of people from different neighborhoods- whites from all white neighborhoods, blacks from all black neighborhoods, blacks from white neighborhoods, and whites from black neighborhoods- were showed a various assortment of stereotypical and non-stereotypical news broadcasts involving race and crime on their local news programs. The result was this: whites living in all white neighborhoods tended to want to endorse stronger policies to prevent crime and held more negative stereotypes against blacks than the other tested groups. “Whites from heterogeneous neighborhoods were either unaffected or moved in the opposite direction, endorsing less punitive crime policies, less negative stereotypes, and feeling closer to blacks as a group as a result of exposure to the stereotypical coverage (Gilliam). This study showed that the demographic of where people lived had a major impact on the way they viewed racism being portrayed through the media. In a similar study conducted in December 2002, it indicates the way people allow the media to affect them is largely dependent upon the