“As Dr. King taught us, equality and free treatment takes all of us working together to bring light to darkness, and I am proud to report that, thanks to the work of our local Flint-Saginaw NABJ chapter, time was taken to educate the editor and staff about what was wrong with these pictures and this approach. As a result, the mug shots are no longer used as the centerpiece of the story,” said Tucker.
“At NABJ we thrive to educate all media companies about how to be mindful of all the words and images used depicting people of color,” said Tucker. “Sometimes it is intentional lack of sensitivity, but often these incidents occur because of the lack of knowledge and understanding. However, whether it is intentional or not, newsrooms must take responsibility in ensuring their reporting doesn’t further damage the communities they serve to how subjects are portrayed.”
Tucker also cited statistics from a report commissioned by Color of Change, a racial justice organization, and Family Story, an advocate of diverse family arrangements, showing discrepancies in what government data say about black families and how they are viewed by the media. Those findings were also reported by media, most notably the Washington Post.
The analysis indicates that black families represent 59 percent of the poor portrayed in media coverage but account for just 27 percent of American in poverty. Meanwhile, white families make up 17 percent of the poor depicted in media stories, but account for 66 percent of the American poor, the study said.
According to the study as reported by the Washington Post, black people are also nearly three times more likely than whites to be portrayed as dependent on welfare, the study showed. Black fathers were shown spending time with their kids almost half as often as white fathers. Blacks represent 37 percent of criminals shown in the news, but constitute 26 percent of those arrested on criminal charges, the study said. In contrast, news media portray whites as criminals 28 percent of the time, when FBI crime reports show they make up 77 percent of crime suspects.
“Coverage of our community as negative and positive can often represent how we are viewed by others in the world,” said Tucker. “We must be careful what we are projecting. These numbers reveal a lack of a commitment to equity and diversity in news coverage has helped defer Dr. King’s dream.”