The Media in Black and White

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The media's treatment of and interaction with race, like race itself, is one of the most sensitive areas hi American society. Whether hi its coverage and treatment of racial matters or racial connections inside media organizations themselves, mass communication is deeply involved with race. The Media in Black and White brings together twenty journalists and scholars, of various racial backgrounds, to grapple with a controversial issue: the role that media industries, from advertising to newspapers to the information superhighway, play in helping Americans understand race.

Contributors include Ellis Cose, a contributing editor for Newsweek; Manning Marable, chairman of Columbia University's African-American Research Center; William Wong, a columnist for the Oakland Tribune; Lisa Penaloza, a University of Illinois professor; and Melita Marie Garza, a Chicago Tribune reporter. Among the topics discussed are: the quality of reporting on immigrant issues; how sensationalism may be deepening the chasm of misunderstanding between the races; how the coverage of America's drug wars has been marked by racism; and whether politically correct language is interfering with coverage of vital issues and problems.

The contributors of The Media in Black and White hope to broaden the narrow vision of the United States and the world beyond with their contributions to the debate over race and the media. The commentary found hi this important work will be of interest to sociologists, communication specialists, and black studies scholars.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560008736
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 163
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Everette E. Dennis is Felix E. Larkin Distinguished Professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business, where he serves as chair of the Communication and Media Management Department and as director of the Center for Communications. Some of his books include Beyond the Cold War, Justice Black and the First Amendment, and Radio—The Forgotten Medium.

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Table of Contents


Part I Reviewing the American Melting Pot

1. Seething in Silence—The News in Black and White

Ellis Cose

“For reporters, race can be a treacherous subject, raising questions that

go to the heart of the journalist’s craft,” observes the author, a Newsweek

contributing editor and former Media Studies Center fellow. “Today,

though we live in a world that is increasingly multicultural, much of

conventional journalism remains fixated on the lives of the white and the

wealthy.” The result, he says, is tension in the newsroom, the news product

and the news consumer.

2. Reconciling Race and Reality

Manning Marable

The 30 years since the zenith of the civil rights movement have brought

a “paradox of desegregation,” contends the author, chairman of Columbia

University’s African-American research center and author of numerous

books on race in America. Improvements aside, “U.S. race relations

in the 1990s have been unambiguously negative,” he writes. “Media,

film and educational institutions have a decisive role to play in overturning

America’s pervasive images of inequality.”

Part II Covering America

3. Immigration, the Press and the New Racism

John J. Miller

“Immigrants have always made Americans uneasy,” as the associate director

of the Center for the New American Community in Washington

points out. That uneasiness is growing in the 1990s as new waves of

illegal immigrants spill over the borders and are accused of a range of

social ills. “The media can’t do anything about that. What the media can

do, however, is exacerbate or ease these worries. It all comes down to the

quality of reporting on immigrant issues.”

4. African Americans According to TV News

Robert M. Entman

“We have all heard that sensationalism and entertainment values are on

the rise in TV news,” writes a Northwestern University researcher. “My

studies indicate these trends aren’t simply professional embarrassments

and frustrations for journalists. They may also be making urban America

less governable, deepening the chasm of misunderstanding and distrust

between blacks and whites.”

5. From Bad to Worse—The Media’s Framing of Race and Risk

Oscar H. Gandy Jr.

Everyone knows that bad news drives journalism, but the press disproportionately

frames stories about blacks as bad news, a University of

Pennsylvania media scholar finds in a pilot study he conducted. “To the

extent that the media emphasize the ways in which the distribution of

social and economic risks breaks down along racial lines,” he suggests,

“they have helped to tear us apart.”

6. Covering the Invisible “Model Minority”

William Wong

Things are looking up in terms of how the press covers America’s diverse

new Asian community, writes the author, a former columnist for

the Oakland Tribune. “TV coverage of Asian Americans remains spotty

and sensationalized, but print coverage, while retaining some of the old

polar good-bad images, has become increasingly nuanced, textured and

true to life.”

7. In the South—Press, Courts and Desegregation Revisited

Dale Thorn

Forty years after Brown v. Board of Education, the fight over racial

segregation has flared up again, with an ironic twist—back then, blacks

sued to enter white colleges; today they are fighting to keep black colleges

open. “Amid the gaffes and stereotypes by the media, there has

been a real dearth of relatively simple, interpretive, what-it-means reporting

on the South’s desegregation story,” complains a Louisiana State

University journalism professor.

8. Coloring the Crack Crisis

Jimmie L. Reeves and Richard Campbell

Coverage of America’s “drug wars” has been marked by racism, contend

the authors of a new book on how network television reports on

cocaine. “Journalism’s discovery of crack in late 1985 signaled the beginning

of a period of frenzied coverage in which the race and class

contours of the cocaine problem established in the early 1980s would be

almost completely reconfigured,” they find.

Part III Issues, Debates and Dilemmas

9. Are the Media Really “White”?

Andrew Hacker

If Ebony is a “black” magazine, is the New Republic “white”? asks a

Queens College political scientist and author. White journalists and media

organizations don’t see race as an essential feature of their identities,

but for blacks, as the author points out, “the dominant media are most

certainly white. To their eyes, the mainstream media speak for a white

nation, which expects all citizens to conform to its ways.”

10. Warping the World—Media’s Mangled Images of Race

Jannette L. Dates and Edward C. Pease

“There is good reason for minorities to think their perspectives are at

best warped by the media or, worse, not heard at all,” reflect the acting

communication dean at Howard University and the co-editor. “In the

year that saw a black man elected president of South Africa, there is

irony in the fact that apartheid still rules the information age in America.”

11. Pop Culture, “Gangsta Rap” and the “New Vaudeville”

Paul Delaney

America’s image of blacks—and their own self-image—is closely tied to

how they are portrayed in news and entertainment, writes the author, a

former New York Times editor who now heads the journalism department

at the University of Alabama. “There is strong objection to many of the

roles and images transmitted—including the clown image of television

sitcoms’ ‘new vaudevillians,’ but particularly the messages of gangsta

rappers about women as ‘bitches’ and ‘hos,’ and about guns and violence

and cops.”

12. Racial Naming

Everette E. Dennis

To paraphrase the poet, What’s in a name? In theory, substance should

be vastly more important than labeling, but, as the co-editor points out,

language questions are intensely sensitive in the arena of race in America.

“Black” or “African American”? “Native American” or “Indian”? “To

the extent that nit-picking over language interferes with coverage of vital

racial and ethnic issues and problems, this debate may be counterproductive,”

he concludes. But it refuses to go away.

Part IV A Media Industry Status Report

13. On-Ramps to the Information Superhighway

Adam Clayton Powell III

So far, at least, the electronic world of tomorrow looks pretty white,

reflects a former broadcaster and technology expert. “Future archaeologists,

studying the documentary record of the present, would have reason

to conclude that people of color were bypassed by the information superhighway,”

he says. “Maybe it just passed over black and Latino communities,

much as Manhattan’s West Side Highway passes overhead on its

way through Harlem neighborhoods.”

14. Newspapers’ Quest for Racial Candor

Sig Gissler

“Race—it is America’s rawest nerve and most enduring dilemma,” reflects

the author, a former newspaper editor and journalism professor at

Columbia University. “From birth to death, race is with us, defining,

dividing, distorting.” Few social institutions are as tormented by this

dilemma day in and day out as are newspapers, he says, reporting on

efforts by two metropolitan dailies to come to grips with the issue.

15. ¡Ya Viene Atzlan! Latinos in U.S. Advertising

Lisa Peñaloza

“In the advertising world, the representation of minorities has been a topic

of interest that has waxed and waned since the civil rights movement,”

writes a University of Illinois advertising professor. “Yet, so much has

changed in the last 20 years that to view minorities in advertising solely in

terms of inclusions in ‘mainstream’ media is to miss much of it.”

16. (Re)Imagining America

John Phillip Santos

“As the United States moves inexorably toward the fullness and complexity

of its multicultural destiny, away from its historic Eurocentric

origins, it is much easier to imagine the impact that shift will have on

public institutions than to foresee what changes it holds for the ethics,

standards and practices of the news media,” suggests the author, executive

producer of a new multicultural newsmagazine on public television.

17. ¡Hola, América! Newsstand 2000

Melita Marie Garza

As the U.S. Latino community grows, “newspapers can see the writing

on the wall, and it’s in Spanish,” writes the Chicago Tribune’s ethnic

affairs reporter in her survey of the explosion of Spanish-language newspapers

published by U.S. mainstream newspapers from Chicago to Florida

to California. “It was all inevitable in a society in which salsa now outsells


Part V Books

18. Exploring (and Exploding) the U.S. Media Prism

Mercedes Lynn de Uriarte

“Although the debate is framed in terms of participation, the real struggle

over diversity in the newsroom is a conflict over points of view,” observes

the author, a former journalist and journalism professor at the

University of Texas, in opening her critical synthesis of four key books

concerning race and American media. “Eradication of racism revolves

around social reconstruction and the control of representation by those

denied access to media decision-making and product distribution.”

For Further Reading


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