Crime in the News and Its Racial Bias

For those who have doubts that the news media could have any hint of racial bias and those who credit said media as undeniable proof of the hyper-criminal culture within the black community, research has been conducted to examine why both are erroneous.

The Journal of Mass Communication and Journalism’s website published a research article that covers lead stories in local news. It focuses on who is portrayed as criminals, victims and heroes and if there’s a racial bias on who gets what role most often. In this case, it’s whites versus blacks.

Here are a few snippets from that article. (Its research is based on its observations of news coverage centered in Omaha, Nebraska. However, similar studies have been conducted on other news stations across the country):

Studies from as far back as the late 1970’s have suggested, “Crime stories in the news may shape public conception of order and justice in the community,” [12,15,16]. Dixon and Linz [12] equate the way television news portrays crime as “a modern play” in which the “devil” is both symbolically and physically cast out from the society by “guardians-police and the judiciary.” Other researchers [17] theorized that the perpetrators of crime, who according to the images shown during local newscasts appear to be overwhelmingly Black males, begin to represent the “evil forces” in society that must be controlled to maintain social order. Chiricos and Eschholz [7] suggests local TV news may contribute to social controls and exclusions in relation to Blacks and Hispanics, a condition associated with the fear of crime identified as “modern racism.” Furthermore, “modern racism,” is defined as a form of racism that is more subtle but perhaps more harmful in the long run [8-11], and can be characterized as “anti-black affect or a general hostility toward Blacks” [11]. Today’s media’s representation of Blacks and race leads to two different but closely related views: “[T]he first assumes that crime is stereotypically portrayed as a Black phenomenon, and the second assumes that Blacks are disproportionately portrayed as criminals” [7]. The implications of connecting Blacks, especially Black males with crime is well documented and some researchers believe that link may’ve been solidified during the 1988 Presidential election race between George Bush and Michael Dukakis, when the Bush campaign unveiled the infamous Willie Horton photo. Even though it has been more than 25 years since Horton’s face was splashed across television screens into American homes, his image may still be what researchers call the iconography of Black criminal threat so much so that Horton has led to the assertion that “today’s prevailing criminal predator has become a euphemism for young Black male” [10].

When it comes to crime, news outlets, on the other hand, tend to show White adults in much more positive roles compared to Blacks [18]. Whites are overrepresented as police officers when employment records do not support that representation [18]. Local news, with its typically heavy focus on urban crime, may have some responsibility for this exaggerated perception [19].

What did they discover? What other research have found out and what we’ve known all along:

This study was designed to compare how the Omaha, Nebraska, television news stations’ lead news stories represent Black versus White males to the extent to which race is associated with law-breaking activity. A close assessment of the stations’ lead or big story of the day revealed that Black males in Omaha are depicted as criminals close to three times more often as White males. These findings appear to mirror other research that has shown that Blacks in general are overrepresented by the media in news of crime. It’s clear that Black males will appear more frequently than White males as perpetrators and felons as depicted in the lead story in local television newscast. Also Black males in Omaha are overrepresented in television news lead stories as lawbreakers in comparison to official crime data and population demographics.

What do you think? Do you think the same is true with most other local news? Leave your comments below.


3 thoughts on “Crime in the News and Its Racial Bias

  1. I think that water is wet, and wind is windy!
    I’m guessing these are not studies done for the benefit of black people, who already clocked this kind of sh*t decades ago. We’ve been discussing this for years.
    This is for the benefit of white people who need receipts for what they’ve been saying, and white people who can be swayed by such receipts.

  2. Doesn’t this study just want to make you say say “Derp?”

    My late grandfather was a college graduate,but you wouldn’t know it because he would he would put it..let book sense dictate his street/common senses. He would use part of a scripture in the bible of James 2;26 where it said ” Faith without works is dead”. Well, he made up a secular saying and said ” Book sense without common sense it dead”.

    You have people who rely on only college degrees to dictate their knowledge and that is all they go by. It’s like all of a sudden people become ” smart ” when they go to! I remembered looking at an episode of Good Times where the character Michael scored lowed on his tests and his school psychologist told him that he wasn’t college material because he scored low on it but then James and Florida gave him a taste of his own medicine by testing him on Black culture but couldn’t answer it.. even trying to get out of it because he knew that he had no knowledge of the Black experience/ culture. The points that James, Florida and Michael was trying to make to Mrs. Know-It-All was 1. Some kids from one background may have a hard time doing well on certain tests because of their lack of experiences with certain cultures and 2 Mostly, achievement has nothing to do with test or books. It has something to do with one’s determination of overcoming an obstacle and their common sense and there are lot of these so called ” underachievers” that has pass these tests of life.

    One day , I talked with a guy who accused his boss of being racist towards him . Ironically, his boss told him the old we say..the worst thing to be is an educated Black man. I was like what made him say that? Respectfully, we both laughed at what he said about that because of the irony of it. It just goes to show White society’s insecurity about Black intelligence. The smartest person doesn’t have to have a college education and the dumbest ones sometimes have degrees. One doesn’t need a degree to have common sense. The average Black person don’t wait to go to college to know the truth.

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