Need For More Diverse Media Coverage Stressed

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To vote in the “Truth in Media” poll go to http://www.theloop21.com/truthinmedia or www.theLoop21.com .

[On Media]

One year after the historic election of President Obama, a panel of journalists of color view the election as a positive turning point in U.S. race relations, however, an overwhelming majority thought that mainstream media did not contribute to improved race relations, according to the 2010 Journalism in Color Survey on “Race and the Media.”

The Journalism in Color Survey tracks the views of professional journalists of color on issues of race and media. The survey -- commissioned by theLoop21.com, a leading African-American web site for economic and political news in collaboration with UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.,  a strategic alliance advocating fair and accurate news coverage about people of color –  provides a unique perspective on racial coverage in the Age of Obama.

For the second consecutive year, the vast majority of respondents --95 percent-- did not think mainstream media adequately covered stories regarding racial issues in a multiracial society.  Reasons topping the list were "too little diversity in newsrooms" and "lack of understanding by editors/producers.” The most telling example of the inadequacy of diversity in newsrooms is that only 14 percent of survey respondents thought that their producers/editors were very knowledgeable of the minority group that they were covering.  

Only 1 in 7 thought that coverage of racial issues by the mainstream media had improved U.S. race relations, while nearly twice as many believed it had worsened race relations.  And, despite much  discussion since the election of a post-racial society, this year’s panel of journalists indicated that racial coverage by the mainstream media was just as likely to be “detrimental to the reality of a post-racial society” as it was to further that reality.

A majority of respondents indicated that while “racial and cultural issues are more likely to be covered” the overwhelming majority do not think that “journalists of color cover more high profile stories,” or that additional coverage translates into creating opportunities for newsroom advancement for journalists of color.  Similar views applied to women and gender issues.

“The persistent lack of confidence in the journalism industry is startling,” said Darrell L. Williams, Ph.D., and publisher of theloop21.com. “At this critical juncture in U.S. race relations, there is a need for discussion of standards for unbiased racial coverage.  What decision-makers in media choose to report, how they report it, and what they choose to ignore affects racial perceptions.”   William added, “Although the survey answers questions regarding the views of journalists of color, more importantly it highlights opportunities for change and further study.                                              

David C. Wilson, Ph.D., a political scientist specializing in public opinion and political psychology, said the nation’s trust and confidence in the media “has been slipping dramatically since the 1970s,” and that “there’s pretty much a consensus that the media is out of touch with average Americans.” 

“Media images and language” can prime subtle thoughts and beliefs related to stereotypes that can lead to bias and support faulty beliefs.” Greater sensitivity through diversity of ideas among producers and editors is the key. “Diversity is not about ‘sheer numbers,’ it’s about highlighting the different takes on different issues,” said Wilson. 

To gain a broader perspective on how media impacts racial perceptions, theLoop21.com  is collaborating with Radio One, NewsOne.com, and TV One's “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” to poll African-Americans and people of color nationwide from February 24 – March 5th.  The “Truth in Media” poll further explores how minority audiences view the media’s coverage of racial issues in the Age of Obama.    To vote in the “Truth in Media” poll go to http://www.theloop21.com/truthinmedia  or  www.theLoop21.com  

The “2010 Journalism in Color” survey was commissioned by TheLoop21.com for members of the alliance partners of UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc., to evaluate the attitudes of journalists of color regarding their experiences in mainstream media during one of the most significant presidential campaigns in American history and beyond. 

Journalists were surveyed on a variety of topics, including the quality of coverage of issues affecting African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans following the 2008 Presidential campaign as well as their professional experiences in mainstream media, perception of opportunities for advancement in their news organizations and suggestions to improve and increase coverage of issues that are important to people of color.

UNITY, representing more than 10,000 journalists of color, is comprised of four national associations: Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Native American Journalists Association. In addition to planning the largest regular gathering of journalists in the nation, UNITY develops programs and institutional relationships that promote its mission.

www.unityjournalists.org, email info@unityjournalists.org or call (703) 854-3585.

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