The study’s researchers reviewed over 800 local and national news pieces published or aired between January 2015 and December 2016, sampling major networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC as well as major print publications such as The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.
The study — conducted by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign communications professor Travis L. Dixon — found that national news outlets were more likely to show black families as broken and dysfunctional while white families were depicted as possessing social stability.
These images are not only distorted, but contradict government data.
Dixon found that black families represented 59 percent of poor people portrayed in media, but actually only make up of 27 percent of Americans living in poverty. In contrast, white families only make up 17 percent of the poor representated in media, but make up 66 percent in reality. As far as criminal depictions go, black criminals represented 37 percent of the media’s criminals while only 26 percent of those arrested on criminal charges are black in real life. White criminals represented 28 percent the criminals portrayed in the media, but make up 77 percent of real life’s crime suspects.
The report argues that constant depictions of black people living in poor, welfare-dependent and broken homes due to absentee fathers has created a negative image of black families in general.
“This leaves people with the opinion that black people are plagued with self-imposed dysfunction that creates family instability and therefore, all their problems,” said Dixon.
Further, these depictions can affect black families on a systematic level. Dixon noted that the images can spark political rhetoric and the powerful buying into these narratives are what causes Congress to “gut social safety net programs,” bosses to implement harsher work and drug testing requirements and general disdain for welfare programs.
The study also notes that during the Great Depression, white families suffering from poverty were presented in the media as having run into “hard luck,” and that there were campaigns to “help them through tough times.”
However, over time, the media and political leaders have “worked to pathologize black families in the American imagination to justify slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, widespread economic inequity and urban disinvestment — as well as to gain and maintain political and social power,” argues Nicole Rodgers, founder of Family Story.
And this effort has borne terrible fruit, according to Color of Change’s executive director, Rashad Robinson, who said, “There are dire consequences for black people when these outlandish archetypes rule the day: abusive treatment by police, less attention from doctors, harsher sentences from judges.”
Overall, the report concluded that in order to make real change in the news industry, stricter sourcing requirements will have to be implemented, journalists must be encouraged to provide social and historical context and the editorial standards process should include people of color.
Joy-Ann Reid‘s talk show AM Joy on MSNBC keeps pulling in the numbers. For the fifth straight month, her show beat out CNN viewership in the same time slot, according to Shadow and Act. In July, her Saturday edition averaged 1.02 million viewers, versus CNN’s 778,000, and her Sunday edition averaged 880,000 viewers versus CNN’s 878,000.
What’s more, AM Joy has seen double-digit growth in the 25-54 demographic, with 45 percent growth on Saturday and 74 percent growth on Sunday. That same demographic, for comparison, has been down for both Fox and CNN in that same time period. Overall, AM Joy enjoyed 53 percent growth for the Saturday edition and 72 percent for total viewers for the Sunday edition.
In an unusually public flare-up, one of MSNBC’s television personalities clashed with the network on Friday in a dispute about airtime and editorial freedom and said she was refusing to host the show that bears her name this weekend.
The host, Melissa Harris-Perry, wrote in an email to co-workers this week that her show had effectively been taken away from her and that she felt “worthless” in the eyes of NBC News executives, who are restructuring MSNBC.
“Here is the reality: Our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” she wrote in the email, which became public on Friday. “After four years of building an audience, developing a brand and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced.”
In a phone interview, Ms. Harris-Perry confirmed she would not appear on the show this weekend. She said she had received no word about whether her show, which runs from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and Sundays, had been canceled, but said she was frustrated that her time slot had faced pre-emptions for coverage of the presidential election. She said she had not appeared on the network at all “for weeks” and that she was mostly sidelined during recent election coverage in South Carolina and New Hampshire. (She was asked to return this weekend.)
In her email, Ms. Harris-Perry wrote that she was not sure if the NBC News chairman, Andrew Lack, or Phil Griffin, the MSNBC president, were involved in the way her show was handled recently, but she directed blame toward both.
“I will not be used as a tool for their purposes,” she wrote. “I am not a token, mammy or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.”
Kunbi Tinuoye, former broadcast journalist and correspondent for the BBC, MSNBC and TheGrio.com, and current on-air contributor to Arise News’ business show Xchange, has recently launched UrbanGeekz.com, a groundbreaking digital news platform dedicated to African-Americans and other underrepresented minorities in technology, science and business. The site offers reviews, interviews, commentary, and original video on startups, geek gadgets, social media, scientific advancements, entrepreneurship and insight into Silicon Valley and the global technology industry. The cutting-edge online publication also provides authoritative lifestyle and entertainment content.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, UrbanGeekz.com, live only since February 9th of this year, has already partnered with telecom giant AT&T and Black Enterprise Magazine to provide content to and about the underserved communities in the tech space. The website also has created a much-needed outlet for dialogue on the most pressing and relevant issues in STEM-related fields: conversations surrounding the preparedness of students to pursue STEM careers, the lack of diversity in the STEM workforce and challenges facing minorities in the tech start-up scene.
Tinuoye, whose parents immigrated to the United Kingdom from Nigeria, was born, raised and educated in London. She graduated from Cambridge University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social and Political Sciences and later received a post-graduate diploma in print journalism. She is also an NCTJ qualified UK professional journalist.
Tinuoye began her career writing for the prestigious London newspaper, the Evening Standard. After stints there and with the BBC, she immigrated to the United States, settling in Atlanta and working for TheGrio.com and MSNBC as a journalist and on-air contributor.
Good Black News recently caught up with Tinuoye and got a chance to talk to this ambitious and intelligent entrepreneur about her journey, why she started UrbanGeekz, and her visions for African-Americans in tech in the near future:
Good Black News: What initially attracted you to journalism?
Kunbi Tinuoye: I’m a communicator – that’s just the core of my personality – I’m a people person. I’ve worked across most platforms, from television to print journalism. I enjoy every aspect of the media industry.
Which aspect of journalism do you like the most?
I started as a writer. Knowing how to write and tell a story is really the core. I say to aspiring journalists, “Make sure you learn how to write,” because once you can put together a well-crafted sentence and get to the crux of a story, then you’ve the ability to be a good journalist.
What made you decide to leave the United Kingdom for the United States?
Me and my husband came on holiday to Atlanta about seven years ago and we basically fell in love with the States. One of my husband’s friends relocated here and was living a comfortable life. Seeing how black professionals live in America, particularly in Atlanta, where you have the ability to work your way up the corporate ladder… I think it was that, the lifestyle and I thought there would be more opportunities for me here.
Do you prefer it here in America?
I absolutely love Atlanta. I feel like I found home. It feels like where I’m meant to be.
Do you have a different perspective on black issues in America being from a different country?
I probably do have a different perspective. For me, coming as an immigrant I feel that, and maybe specifically to Atlanta, which I think is a great place for black professionals, for me there seems to be a phenomenal amount of opportunity, but that’s from my perspective. I know race is a huge issue in America, I’m very aware of that – in London there’s racism as well – maybe at a slightly different level, but of course I’m aware of injustice and all of the issues going on, but at the same time I see America as the land of opportunity – that’s my perspective.
Your experience has spanned three countries – Nigeria through your parents, England and the United States. How do you identify?
K: What can I say… being Nigerian is very important to me, so I would identify as a British Nigerian. I’ve been in the States four years, and now it’s like home.
Why did you start UrbanGeekz?
I was at the Grio for close to four years and it was a phenomenal job. But I felt there was a gap in the market. There wasn’t a minority-led news platform tackling issues related to STEM and the technology industry, which as you know is an important space that’s going to become even more significant in the coming years. The other reason that sparked me to launch UrbanGeekz was when the big tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, released their diversity stats and showed dismal numbers of African-Americans and women. I think that and the combination of just thinking we’re not covering these stories was the impetus.
Who do you consider your competition in the digital tech space?
I’ve got a huge vision for UrbanGeekz. I want the platform to compete with the big players like TechCrunch and the African-American and even the Latino digital news outlets as well. They aren’t my competition now because we’ve just started, but I hope to be at the same level further down the line.
What do you see as the near future for blacks and people of color in tech and science?
There’s been so much conversation about this right now. It’s a hot topic. Some of the big firms, including Intel and Apple,have made major announcements within the last year, [earmarking] money for underserved minorities and women. So I feel and I hope that people of color – and I say “people of color” because UrbanGeekz is a multi-cultural website – African-Americans of course, but I do want to include Latino market at some point and even Africans and Afro-Latinos as well – my hope is that particularly with the current discussion, people of color will become more and more involved in STEM and the tech space. Technology is important and when you look at the high-demand jobs of the future, many require STEM or tech skills. Underserved minorities and women need to have this skill set to level the playing field.
Are East Indians and Asians thought of as “people of color” in tech?
They are doing much better in tech. UrbanGeekz is for underrepresented communities in the technology industry.
Do you think there is enough awareness around disparity in the tech industry?
Before those diversity statistics were publicly released there wasn’t too much focus on the giant tech companies. But people like Reverend Jesse Jackson have been vocal and continued to put the spotlight on the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. Now the issue is a hot topic. It’s also about what kind of skills and jobs that will be in demand in the future. STEM skills are vital for career progression and the continued growth of the U.S. economy. These companies are the new Fortune 500 companies, the new GM [General Motors] or U.S. Steel.
Further down the line, Tinuoye and UrbanGeekz will be launching the UrbanGeekz 100, an annual list of underrepresented minorities making strides in science and technology. The handpicked list will culminate with an on-site exclusive awards gala honoring these dynamic leaders and influencers of color who have achieved success in their prospective industries.
Lester Holt will take over the anchor chair at NBC’s “Nightly News” permanently, while Brian Williams takes another position in the organization in the wake of his disclosure earlier this year that he falsified details of a reporting trip to Iraq, according to press reports released Wednesday night.
NBC News declined to comment on the reports, made by CNN and The Wall Street Journal. Robert Barnett, an attorney for Brian Williams who has represented him in negotiations with NBC, also declined to comment after being email Wednesday evening.
Williams’ fate remains uncertain, though The New York Times reported Thursday he could move to MSNBC, the cable-news network also owned by parent NBCUniversal.
The moves, which the reports suggested could be announced as early as Thursday, would help stem a period of tumult for NBC News. The NBCUniversal unit has seen its flagship evening newscast lose in the ratings to ABC News’ “World News Tonight,” anchored by David Muir. Season to date, the ABC newscast has edged out “Nightly News” in the audience most coveted by advertisers, viewers aged 25 to 54.
NBC News has yet to disclose to the public the results of an investigation into Williams’ behavior, the scope of which included not only his false descriptions of a ride aboard a Chinook helicopter, but also certain descriptions of events he purported to take part in during travels for NBC News. The company is clearly banking on the idea that the wide appeal Williams had with viewers will endure if it removes him from a position where trust and credibility are paramount. ABC News faced a similar issue recently its chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos, disclosed he had made charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation without telling viewers, even when those contributions could create the perception of a bias.
If Williams is received well by viewers, he could lend a boost to MSNBC, which has struggled with ratings as of late against rivals Fox News Channel and CNN. The network has reworked its daytime schedule to focus more heavily on breaking news while reserving is primetime schedule for personalities who view events through a progressive or liberal lens.
Holt, meantime, has held his own with Muir, sometimes winning more overall viewers to the NBC newscast week by week. NBC has not lent his newscast any promotion since he took the reins of the program from Williams in February.
Meantime, the anchor has scored some noticeable scoops, including an exclusive interview with the bystander who captured video of a South Carolina police officer shooting Walter Scott, and even led the newscast one evening from a seat in a helicopter. If Holt can keep his facts straight about the chopper, he will likely enjoy his tenure in the anchor seat.
More than $100,000 has been pledged to help Shanesha Taylor, 35, a single mother from Arizona who was arrested last month after allegedly leaving her 2-year-old and 6-month-old sons alone in a hot car while she went on a job interview because she was unable to find a babysitter.
Taylor was charged with two counts of child abuse. She has pleaded not guilty and was released on bail posted by a stranger, her lawyer told TODAY.com Wednesday. Her two boys are now in state care. Her tearful mug shot has brought attention to issues facing the nation’s poor and unemployed, especially single mothers.
Amanda Bishop, a New Jersey woman who does not know Taylor, felt compelled to help. She launched an online fundraising campaign in support of Taylor, with pledges now totaling more than $106,000. “There are some of us that feel that Shanesha was in an unfortunate situation that sadly an economy like ours is putting many single mothers in a position to make terrible mistakes like this,” the fundraising site says.
Bishop, 24, told MSNBC’s Tamron Hallthat she launched the fundraising campaign after viewing Taylor’s Facebook page and finding nothing but posts and pictures featuring Taylor’s kids. “That convinced me she wasn’t a bad mom, she just made a terrible mistake,” Bishop said.
Though there has been some criticism of the effort, Bishop said that it’s easy for people who have never struggled to judge Taylor harshly. Bishop said she herself was raised by a struggling mother. “Nobody’s saying she’s right for her choice,” Bishop said. “It’s just a matter of what is more wrong here: The fact that she did this or the fact that there are so many people out there put in a position to make this decision or to make risks like this?”
Others agreed, including single mothers who left comments on the fundraising site saying they understood Taylor’s dilemma.
“I understand the struggle, I’ve been there before too. It’s VERY HARD being a single parent and having NO ONE to turn to for support,” wrote Dawn F. Edwards, who donated $25.
NBC News’ Tamron Hall has joined Today as an official co-host for the morning show. Hall’s new gig was announced on the telecast Monday morning. She will join Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Willie Geist for morning show’s 9 a.m. hour. Hall, a longtime MSNBC anchor and regular fill-in on the show, recently interviewed Hugh Jackman and Mariah Carey and has spent time in the Today social network-themed Orange Room.
“We’re really excited to officially welcome Tamron into the Today family,” said Don Nash, Executive Producer in a statement. “She brings wit, enthusiasm and a keen sensibility to an all-around fantastic team, and I think Tamron, Al, Natalie and Willie will have a lot of fun together hosting the third hour.”
MSNBC yesterday reported a huge increase in their overall ratings, a 20% increase, in 2012, no doubt due to the 2012 Presidential campaign, but also due to a another major factor – Black viewership. The network announced an incredible increase in their already large number of Black viewers – a whopping 60.5% increase during the past year.
That’s compared to CNN, whose Black audience increased last year by 23.7%, while Fox News’ Black audience decreased by the same amount.
No doubt MSNBC’s more progressive leaning approach to the news and their wide array of black hosts and pundits such as Toure, Melissa Harris-Perry, Tamron Hall, Joy-Ann Reid (pictured above and who I predict is headed for her own MSNBC show soon) Karen Finney, Michael Steele, Al Sharpton, Eugene Robinson, Jonathan Capehart, Goldie Taylor and if I’ve forgotten anyone, I’m sorry, have played a large part in the increase in black viewers.
When recently asked about this remarkable development, MSNBC president Phil Griffith said: “I think we made a commitment, we decided, that in order for this channel to succeed, that we had to reflect the country. This meant that we had to be part of the country in ways that the other channels weren’t.”
Members of the “Wilmington 10” hold a brief communion service before boarding a prison bus on Feb. 2, 1976 in Burgaw, North Carolina, as they surrendered to start prison terms on convictions growing out of 1971 racial disorders in Wilmington, N.C. Four of the group shown from left are Connie Tindall, Rev. Ben Chavis, Jerry Jacobs and Anne Sheppard. (AP Photo)
After decades of claims that they were wrongly convicted, nine African-American men and one white women who were imprisoned for an arson fire in North Carolina that stemmed from racial unrest over integrated schools have been pardoned. North Carolina Gov. Bev Purdue, who is leaving office in just one week, issued the pardons Monday.
Purdue’s office issued a statement, saying she had spent “a great deal of time over the past seven months reviewing the pardon of innocence requests of the persons collectively known as the Wilmington Ten.”