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Savage Portrayals: Race, Media and the Central Park Jogger Story
     

Savage Portrayals: Race, Media and the Central Park Jogger Story

by Natalie Byfield
 

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In 1989, the rape and beating of a white female jogger in Central Park made international headlines. Many accounts reported the incident as an example of “wilding”—episodes of poor, minority youths roaming the streets looking for trouble. Police intent on immediate justice for the victim coerced five African-American and Latino boys to plead guilty

Overview

In 1989, the rape and beating of a white female jogger in Central Park made international headlines. Many accounts reported the incident as an example of “wilding”—episodes of poor, minority youths roaming the streets looking for trouble. Police intent on immediate justice for the victim coerced five African-American and Latino boys to plead guilty. The teenage boys were quickly convicted and imprisoned. Natalie Byfield, who covered the case for the New York Daily News, now revisits the story of the Central Park Five from her perspective as a black female reporter in Savage Portrayals.
 
Byfield illuminates the race, class, and gender bias in the massive media coverage of the crime and the prosecution of the now-exonerated defendants. Her sociological analysis and first-person account persuasively argue that the racialized reportage of the case buttressed efforts to try juveniles as adults across the nation.
 
Savage Portrayals casts new light on this famous crime and its far-reaching consequences for the wrongly accused and the justice system. 

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
01/01/2014
Byfield brings bifocal vision to her analysis of media treatment of the Central Park Jogger story, which she covered in her first career as a journalist for the New York Daily News. The woman iconically referred to as the "Central Park Jogger" was savagely beaten and raped during a late-night run in Central Park in 1989. Shortly thereafter, five teenage boys—not coincidentally African American and Hispanic—were apprehended and confessed to the crime. The problem is that they were innocent and their confessions had been coerced. Tragically, the young men all served substantial jail time before a known violent rapist confessed that he was the actual perpetrator and his claim was substantiated by DNA evidence. From her current perspective as a sociologist (St. John's Univ.), Byfield reexamines the horrific event in light of after-acquired evidence and scholarly methodology, particularly content analysis of news coverage, and she tells a revised story in which issues of race, class, and media bias taint the justice system. VERDICT A chilling, ultimately instructive portrayal of savage injustice. This book would be best read alongside of, and in contradistinction to, Trisha Meili's I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility.—Lynne Maxwell, West Virginia Univ. Coll. of Law Lib., Morgantown

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439906347
Publisher:
Temple University Press
Publication date:
01/20/2014
Pages:
244
Sales rank:
771,489
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Natalie P. Byfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at St. John's University in Queens, New York. She has also taught in Journalism and Media Studies. She is a former Staff Writer for the New York Daily News.

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