Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Racial Stereotypes and the Evening News

This isn't specifcally about Dayton but it dovetails with a project that the local Congregation for Reconcialiation was working on.

Apparently University of Illinois found racial stereotyping to be associated with evening news coverage:

Negative Preception of Blacks Rises with More News Watching, studies say.

In a pair of recently published studies, communication professor Travis Dixon found that the more people watched either local or network news, the more likely they were to draw on negative stereotypes about blacks.

Significantly, the effect was independent of viewers’ existing racial attitudes, Dixon said. “We’ve shown that just watching the news – just news consumption alone – has an impact on one’s stereotypical conceptions,” he said.

The article continues with a discussion of local news broadcasts:

The study on local news, published in the March issue, built on prior research in several cities – Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles among them – showing local TV news, particularly crime news, as almost always “racialized” in its portrayal of blacks and often other groups, Dixon said. One of the Los Angeles studies, conducted in the mid- to late 1990s, was led by Dixon, and analyzed the news content of individual stations.

So what about the situation in Dayton? I have to admit that I've never watched local news here...in all the years I lived here I think I've seen a handful of broadcasts, so can't say if local crime reporting is racialized the way this study claims.

However there was a study on crime reporting in the city done by the Congregation of Reconciliation, reported on via this excellent post at the Polishing the Gem City blog.

The CforR study can be found here.

CforR looked at Channel 7 and did find evidence of racialized coverage (focusing on West Dayton crime), but apparently the station changed reporters, resulting in coverage changing. Yet 30% of crime coverage was still on city crime for this station.

The broader question is if there was a lengthy history of crime reporting in Dayton disporportionatly focused on minority crime. If so this would lead to negative stereotyping if one was a frequent viewer of local TV news, according to the Illinois studies.

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