Mainstream media outlets ignore people of color

Mainstream newspapers, cable and network television, radio, and news websites do not care about the lives of people of color. According to The Pew Research Center’s latest analysis of news coverage,  African Americans had less than 2 percent of coverage, Hispanics had 1.3 percent and Asian Americans had 0.2 percent. This is so offensive considering the demographics of the United States. Direct your attention to a summary that the Kaiser Foundation did of the population data a few months back:

pew chart about race and ethnicity showing a decline in the proportion of the u.s. population that is white

While our country is headed in the direction of being a more diverse place, mainstream media just can’t seem to catch up. It is also disappointing that some indicators in Pew’s analysis point to the fact that gender isn’t mainstream media’s strongest showing either. For example, looking at the individuals that dominated African-American coverage –President Barack Obama, Michael Jackson, Henry Louis Gates, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab —  none were women . These men alone accounted for 46 percent of all the African American news coverage.

Despite all the bad news about newsmakers, the Pew Project For Excellence In Journalism also highlights how ethnic news outlets are still doing their part to represent people of color, despite having taken serious hits in these dismal economic times. As a blogger, I am going to make more of an effort to link to stories from The Afro-American or Vida en Valle that cover people of color in their complexity.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/samll/ Sam Lindsay-Levine

    I wonder to what extent this can be attributed to most mainstream news coverage being about the rich and powerful, who are (I believe) disproportionately white.

  • http://feministing.com/members/civility/ Calvin

    To me, it doesn’t appear to be any type of willful discrimination. The power players in American politics ARE disproportionately white, and that may largely explain why some groups are more over-represented than others.

  • http://feministing.com/members/psattler/ Peter

    While many of the study’s points remain salient, there is clearly a bias in the methodology — one that will help to produce such skewed numbers.

    According to the study, a news story only counts as being “related in a significant way” to, say, African-Americans if 25% of more of the item is “about” that group specifically.

    Therefore an article about health care reform — and even the demographics of the uninsured — would probably not count as being “about” African-Americans or “significantly related” to that community of readers. An article about public school reform would probably not count, but a story of African-Americans an public school reform would. An article about the death penalty would only count if 1/4 of the story focused on African-Americans and the death penalty.

    Again, I agree that there is a significant problem here. Yet this seems an unfortunate way of thinking about whether issues that are significant to (or even “about”) the African-American or anyother community are being covered. I wonder how Feministing would do if it measured itself using the same ruler?

  • http://feministing.com/members/mighty-ponygirl/ Mighty Ponygirl

    This is so frustrating. Just this morning I went to wowowow.com to read Dear Margo and as I was looking at their banner, which is supposed to be a representation of the famous women who post on the site. Of the 16 women represented, the ONLY woman of color on the banner was Whoopi Goldberg, who doesn’t even have a half a dozen posts. It just sort of bugged me and now I see this and I have to wonder why people are so threatened by seeing minorities. Even when I try to be cynical about it, it just doesn’t make sense.

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    I wonder how information is inadvertently skewed towards Caucasians, being that more affluent areas get greater news coverage. The question then begins how can you focus media attention upon ethnic and racial groups historically under-reported without established channels of communication and the financial resources needed?

    Privilege as I understand it is not a sin of commission, it is a sin of omission.

  • http://feministing.com/members/jgar6/ jessica

    On a side note, yay for there being more biracial people in 2050… if only 3.0%. I’m shocked that it isn’t at least 5% now.