Coverage of Race in America

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How the American and the Global Media Frame the Coverage of Race

Abida Eijaz Assistant Professor, Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab, Pakistan

Twitter @abidaeijaz

The issue of race revolves around the notion of identity. How do we identify ourselves is based on ‘othering’ in a very subtle and unconscious manner. The coverage of ‘race’ in the traditional media is also informed by the discourse of ‘US’ verses ‘Them’.  ‘US’ gets its power from language and democracy and rests upon the politics of division and fear.



In the context of US Supreme Court doctrine of 1954, that extended rights to African Americans on the basis of ‘separate but equal’ citizens, which resulted in a decade of agitation. The non-violent march of African Americans in Alabama curbed by police, got a live telecast by national television channels and generated a large scale support. Finally, African Americans got their ‘right to vote’.

The incident of Michael Brown murder in 2014 at Ferguson, called as ‘America’s Arab Spring’ instantaneously got global owing to 35 million tweets and shifted to the agenda of traditional media as well. However, the dynamics and processes of the coverage of this ‘America’s Arab Spring’ are quite different as compared to the earlier civil rights movement.



Due to social media, the recent coverage of race is different as compared to race coverage in 50s and 60s. Social media has got the power to influence traditional media too through intermedia agenda. Since it is impossible for any media to cover each and every event and occurrence taking place in its entirety, it has to be selective. The selection processes are informed by certain constraints, influences and stereotyping. Though one of the efficient ways of communication is stereotyping, it carries biases as well.

About abidaeijaz

Assistant Professor, Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

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3 Comments on “Coverage of Race in America”

  1. This piece is so accurate, specially when you see the recent events related to racism in US.It is such a paradox that the country of such a freedom of press, and a strong democracy still struggling with race issues. Also a paradox that the country that elected the first African American president is so behind on interracial questions.
    I think the coverage made by media is crucial. Of course social media are so powerful now that traditional media are alining and yet should make a balance treatment of information.

  2. Reading about “Us” vs “Them” point in your blog I remembered the State of the Union address by the then President of the United States George W. Bush back in 2002. To me it was all about division, fear and hatred. I wonder how that speech affected the President’s fellow Americans of Middle-Eastern descent. Isn’t it that speeches such as this, or indeed the ones delivered by the current Republican runner for the US President’s office, that keep supporting unhealthy attitudes towards diverse racial origins across this otherwise fascinating country.

  3. Like every other vices, we get to hear more about issues of racism,attacks due to the high number in reportage. The social media has helped a lot in exposing this rot, people can now tweet, hashtag events, tell the whole world and even go live, beaming incidents to the whole world.In most kind of ways, the internet has been a blessing.

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