By Roger Caldwell
“This is the press, an irresponsible press. It will make the criminal look like he’s a victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. If you aren’t careful, the newspaper will have you hating the people who are oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing,” says Malcolm X.
The majority of newsrooms in America are run by Whites, and it is no surprise that only certain kinds of Black stories are being published. Most White people don’t understand that implicit racial bias is part of their DNA, and anything associated with Black skin is considered negative.
Systemic racism is practiced everyday in main street newsrooms, and subconsciously, it is never discussed or given a second thought. According to the radio and television news directors association, television newsrooms are 80% White, and radio newsrooms are 92% White. The American Society of News Editors and/or newspaper newsrooms are 85% White.
The diversity in these newsrooms has remained the same for over a decade, and in the last few years, more Black and Hispanic members in newsrooms are losing their jobs. In the 1990’s, there were over 400,000 jobs in newspaper newsrooms, and in 2015, there were less than 200,000 positions. Radio and television newsrooms are also being impacted, and many manual labor jobs are being replaced by computers and digital programming.
With fewer employees to cover the news, newsrooms are working in a bubble, and media managers are looking for sensational headlines, and exciting breaking news.
”The American people are being force-fed a media diet of stereotypes and misperceptions, and the often over criminalization of African Americans through language, images, and omissions. Media injustice leads to both the erasure and criminalization of marginalized communities,” says Savannah West – writer at Odyssey.
Diversity is no longer a major issue in newsrooms, and mangers are looking for stories that sell. Most mangers have become desensitized to one dimensional portrayal of Black people in America.
Media bias has impacted the way law enforcement and the judicial system treats the entire Black community. If you turn on the television, the majority of Blacks in the news are criminals or so-called thugs. These stereotypes remain in the mind.
“Implicit bias impacts the way Black communities are treated across practically all sectors of life in America from courtrooms to doctors offices” Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change.pac tells the Root. “The media is no different, whether it is the use of pejorative terms like “thugs and animals” to describe protestors in Ferguson and Baltimore, or the widespread over-reporting of crime stories involving Black suspects in New York City.”
With the election of Donald Trump, progressive newsrooms are moving to the middle, and Black news employees are being penalized for being Black. At MSNBC, six (6) minority television hosts have been replaced by conservative hosts, or their time on air has been cut.
Main Street Media has decided not to discuss the elimination of Black news employees, and diversity is no longer significant or important.
There is a concerted effort in 2017 for newsrooms to operate with alternative facts, and refuse to tell the truth that Black low-paying jobs are being replaced by Latino immigrants who are exploited. Black children are not being educated in dilapidated city schools, and newsrooms refuse to tell the story. In cities like Flint, MI where toxic lead water was pumped into a predominantly Black community, at least 12 residents died from legionnaire’s disease in 2016.
Something is fundamentally wrong when newsrooms are working on the same story, even though women are being exploited at the company down the street. Prosecutors are putting more Blacks and Hispanics in prison for petty crimes, and white collar crimes are not reported or investigated, yet newsrooms claim to be doing their job.
It is very easy to push stereotypes and make it appear that Blacks are lazy criminals, but what is the truth? It appears much easier for newsrooms to stay in their bubble, hire more Whites, and tell the same story each and every night.