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  • Race and the Press

    No doubt many of you have seen Acid's post about being off line for a few days while he and his mates deal with the tragic and violent death of his school mate up at Lincoln Sudbury High School in Massachusetts. Click this link for the story from the Boston Herald:

    http://news.bostonherald.com/localRe...ticleid=178053

    I'm terribly saddened by the turn of events. He didn't deserve to die in a puddle of his own blood in a dirty school bathroom. It's Two lives ruined really--except the perpetrator lives while the victim is dead and buried. Tragic for both families and all those who knew them or are touched by this story.

    Reading about this story in the local papers really created a deep angst for me. This uncomfortable feeling comes from not only the actions that happened but also from the way in which the local press covered the story . In the days after this event both Boston papers devoted a large share of their column space to this story, exploring every aspect however minute or seemingly useless, as news outlets today are inclined to do these days.

    That's to be expected but what bothers me is that similar stories of violence and death have received far less coverage than the Lincoln Sudbury story. For days after we saw page after page and column after column that shouted out headlines like .."How could this happen here"...."What can we do about this"..."Death Shocks Affluent community" ETC ETC ad infinitum it seemed

    So here we have a violent stabbing with a teenage victim in Lincoln Sudbury. The story receives robust, multi day coverage from the local media. Here in lies the rub--a similar story happens in Roxbury and it'll gets a two paragraph blurb and maybe a flollow up later if it even reaches the newspaper.

    I've been struggling with this dynamic since the event. I'm somewhat ashamed by it. I'm a comfortably middle class white guy who belives in harmony for all races and I can't help but wonder what the people of Roxbury or any other similar community could possibly think about the way the press coverage played out. If I've noticed it, insulated and comfortable I can only imagine how the people of Roxbury or any other community of color have experienced it. As an "ah ha" moment this ranks pretty low but I don't know what else to say.

    The question for me is : Why doesn't the poor community get the same coverage the rich one does? God knows the level of violence and violent crime in places like Roxbury far exceed the reality of life in a upper middle class suburb like Lincoln-Sudbury. Shouldn't the community with the bigger problem get the lion's share of the press on this subject?

    There's no easy answer to this question but I wanted to post this on the Sandbox and encourge discourse on the subject. Perhaps a bit too blithefully I've already answered the question in my own mind --it comes down to the haves and have nots. I hate that.

    @ Acid et. al. in Lincoln-Sudbury--no disrecpect intended. The last thing I want to do is paint with a broad brush.
    Last edited by Grunt 70; 02-01-2007, 11:58 PM.
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  • #2
    Re: Race and the Press

    The truth, in my opinion? It's not shocking news when a poor or non-white person gets kills by another poor or non-white person because society expects that. It's only shocking when a "normal" or upper class white person gets killed, or a poor/non-white person gets killed by the police/authorities.

    Is it fair? Absolutely not. Is it sad? Certainly. Will it change anytime soon? Save your money on that bet.
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    • #3
      Re: Race and the Press

      Grunt, what you are observing is nothing new, but is atrocious none the less, and is the first example that comes to mind whenever I am asked to back up the claim that racism is alive and well in America. Mainstream media is biased in a number of ways, but racism is one of the most tragic. I won't even go into details about how this type of bias perpetuates racial stereotypes among the consumers of mainstream media.

      There have been plenty of scholarly studies into this imbalanced aspect of society, and have been for decades. Unfortunately, the pattern will not change until a large portion of society regonizes that it exists.

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      • #4
        Re: Race and the Press

        I have a very similar conversation before, and an interesting point came up during that conversation, newspaper sales. Someone mentioned that the poorer, more crime ridden areas, simply buy less newpapers, so why print stories about their area? Whereas, the more affluent areas of town spend the money, so print what is relevant and close to home for them to sell more papers. How true this theory is, I honestly have no idea. But, it is an interesting theory.
        |TG-Irr|HatefullSix

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        • #5
          Re: Race and the Press

          Kind of makes you wonder just how many student on student school deaths there are in the schools/year.

          ______

          That is one thing that I thought of with Terri Schiavo. Just how many people with similiar conditions die each week from having life support removed?
          The media (and the Congress) talked about something that happens all the time as something HUUGE. IMO, both shamelessly used the story to their ends.

          I believe another aspect is that a story, say on all the school knifings a year is cold and does not get too much sympathy if a emotional story is not told. And the story of ONE story that is sad by defalt, gets way way more attention and is considered hot.

          The media stations get into a small scurmish on who can deliever the best info on ONE story. I guess that is what the public want to hear.
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          • #6
            Re: Race and the Press

            Originally posted by HatefullSix View Post
            I have a very similar conversation before, and an interesting point came up during that conversation, newspaper sales. Someone mentioned that the poorer, more crime ridden areas, simply buy less newpapers, so why print stories about their area? Whereas, the more affluent areas of town spend the money, so print what is relevant and close to home for them to sell more papers. How true this theory is, I honestly have no idea. But, it is an interesting theory.
            Not to single you out, HatefullSix, but this is the first 'reason' you would get from a media outlet as to why they run headlines on adbucted suburban white girls and not murdered urban black girls.

            Unfortunately, the exact wording of your post illustrates my point. Is a story about a murdered black girl necessarily 'about' "poorer, crime ridden areas?" Conversely, is a story about an abducted white girl necessarily about "more affluent areas?" These are the precise sterotypes that need to be overcome if we are to see this aspect of media become 'fair and balanced.'

            When I mention the media perpetuating these stereotypes, this example can be carried further. By making up these excuses - that coverage is dictated by consumer demographic, look at it this way - the covereage creates the demographic. What black person of any class would care to watch news that is clearly delineating coverage based on race? Why would anyone expect such an alienated audience to want to tune in?

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            • #7
              Re: Race and the Press

              That's also known as "playing to your audience." Not just in terms of subject matter or location, but with the biases and preconceptions that they feel most comfortable with. Journals that challenge people are not traditionally good sellers.
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              • #8
                Re: Race and the Press

                It is tragic, but on the flip side of the racism issue. Do you all remember that case with the Duke Lecross players who were accused of raping that black stripper? The media and the DA compleletely took the strippers word for it and ran with it. The media especially seemed to accuse the boys before they ever went to trial. Now that the stripper just had a kid and the DNA doens't match any of the boys, it's looking more and more like she lied. The media and that particular DA were ready to hang these upper-crust anglo boys out to dry before any evidence was brought out. It's kind of like the opposite of what used to happen in America when small towns would lynch an innocent black man for raping a white girl. It happened way too often, and now it's almost like the opposite problem (except not nearly as severe or common). But either way, it is messed up how the media doesn't cover how common inner city killings are. I guess it can go both ways. Racism sucks.
                "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

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                • #9
                  Re: Race and the Press

                  It's interesting how the msm is able to be totally unbiased and fair politically, according to lots and lots of authoritative studies, and yet somehow manages to be basically biased and racist in this regard. Sorta makes you go hmmm.

                  I do have to say that the premise of this thread is a bit false, IMO. Lots of cute white girls disappear with nary a peep from the press. Happened to a friend of mine, but you've never heard of her. Cute as a button, white, wealthy, and gone without a trace. I don't know what it takes to become the American Idol of murder victims but merely being white ain't it.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Race and the Press

                    My post was meant to answer Grunt's question, "Why doesn't the poor community get the same coverage the rich one does?"
                    It wasn't meant as an excuse for main stream media actions & methods, only one possible reason as to why. Do I agree with it? No. I actually believe that most of this style of reporting, be it poor or rich communities, just works to sensationalize almost any type of crime to the tune of what its readers are comfortable with, which sells more papers. I believe that most msm is not out to unbiasedly report the going on within communities, but to simply increase profits for there investors. As Steeler says, "Journals that challenge people are not traditionally good sellers".
                    In order for the meadia to change, their readership would have to change.
                    |TG-Irr|HatefullSix

                    If at first you don't succeed, you need more firepower.

                    There is nothing wrong with feeling something when you shoot your enemies... as long as that something is recoil.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Race and the Press

                      Ignorance. Nobody gives a crap about the poor, unless they are poor themselves, or are overly generous. But you dont get that a lot. Everyone is filled with greed, and self centralism these days. Other races, Well nobody gives a crap about anyone else to begin with, but half of the population, absolutley hates the other race. The Civil War never ended, it still goes on today. "But theres no more fighting" you might say, but there are numerous murders over race, becuase of biggotry. Its the same exact reason why there will be never be peace. Also everyone has a ego the size of a russian border. They have to be better then everyone else, and cant be a "looser, or wimp".
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                      • #12
                        Re: Race and the Press

                        Originally posted by leejo View Post
                        I do have to say that the premise of this thread is a bit false, IMO. Lots of cute white girls disappear with nary a peep from the press. Happened to a friend of mine, but you've never heard of her. Cute as a button, white, wealthy, and gone without a trace. I don't know what it takes to become the American Idol of murder victims but merely being white ain't it.
                        While I'm sure there are plenty of cute white girls that don't get the national focus turned on them, can you show me a huge national story where it's an unattractive black woman that the whole nation is "praying" for?

                        Jon Benet Ramsey

                        Chandra Levy (Gary Condit's girl?)

                        Natalee Holloway

                        Jennifer Wilbanks (Runaway Bride)

                        These cases captured the entire focus of all of the MSM, and yet, when the same thing happens to a young black girl, the media doesn't bat an eye.

                        The premise is there. Why? Hell if I know. Perhaps it's some very logical and reasonable editorial decision based on demographics and marketing. Perhaps it's plain old fashioned institutional (as opposed to intentional) racism. But it's certainly not coincidence. The premise is correct, even if every missing white girl doesn't get national coverage.

                        I also absolutely disagree with HybridNinja's notion that half of the population hates other races. That's simply absurd.
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                        • #13
                          Re: Race and the Press

                          Well i dont really mean half the population, i kinda over exagerated there.
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                          • #14
                            Re: Race and the Press

                            Excellent discourse guys. No surprises really but I think it's important to think of these issues from time to time...helps me stay grateful for my fairly comfortable existence.

                            Here's a link to a page on the NPR website that mirrors our discussion. it's a thoughtful series on the Have's and the Have not's in America. Quite timely.

                            http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=7180618
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