The recent police shootings of unarmed African American men has reignited the painful discussions of race in America. This is not a new conversation, nor does it show much sign of a quick or agreeable resolution.
One valid concern that has arisen is how the media sometimes mistreats these cases. Are they (news providers) just capitalizing on the fear and controversy? Are they biased? Does the media hate the police or take part in the discrimination? I don’t think there is an easy answer to any of these questions.
From my perspective there has been a long almost unspoken rivalry between law enforcement and the news. The general stereotype is that journalists think they are holding power hungry bullies (police/government) accountable. And the police think “the left wing media” has a misguided agenda and doesn’t understand the positions, people or decisions that cops have to contend with on a daily basis. Again, I think there is some validity to both sides but more than anything each side is guilty of some misguided prejudices.
To some, the media appears always ready to point the finger and focus on controversial police actions while defending minorities. The folks that take this side of the argument often believe that the media is just a puppet of the political left. I would argue that the media has demonstrated its fair share of flat out bigotry and prejudice. The “looting vs. finding” photos from hurricane Katrina are glaring examples of some of the racial bias from some news providers.
In the same breath it is not hard to find evidence of apparent racist police action in this country.
Ultimately, I believe that the media, law enforcement and even the American public are guilty of some nasty actions, beliefs, and assumptions. But, and it’s a big but, we are all learning and evolving. The media and police are made up of people and people make mistakes, the trick is to try to learn from and not repeat our mistakes. The silver lining to these wrongs is that they force us (the public) to have this conversation, and hopefully come away a little more aware, a little more informed, and a better sense of responsibility to each other and ourselves. As of now, we all still have a long way to go.
Articles and organizations focused on racial bias by the media
TAARM (Taking Action Against Racism in the Media)
Contributions from: Vlad Odobescu
One Comment on “A long way to go”
The issues you raise here provide some much needed food for thought. I think institutions reflect the values of their people. So, if a culture suffers from the disease of racism, discrimination and prejudice, inevitably that will be reflected in the police, the media and other institutions in that society. I think your piece here is a useful diagnosis of the ailments affecting two of the most important institutions in America: The police and the media. The question I have for you is this: How much of their troubles on this issue is institutional and how much of it is a mere reflection of what’s going on in the larger culture.
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