Media -Tre Tipton

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Tre Tipton
12/4/18
Black Consciousness
Media
Whether it be the television news, a written article, or a report mentioned on social
media, all these media sources have the potential to reach massive audiences, thus influencing
the public’s views on certain racial stereotypes and issues. The massive amount of money that is
generated in today’s media industry fuels the commercialization that distorts images, enhances
some dimensions, while omitting others. This misrepresents the lives and reality of black males
and females in America, which then negatively affects the understanding and attitudes that
society has towards them. According to the Opportunity Agenda study, media images were
found to have the greatest impact on people’s opinions and attitudes towards society, especially
those who are lacking “real-world experience” (Donaldson 2015). Although some media gives a
good representation of blacks, the perception of black people is dominated with negativity.
Today, the media distorts the images of athletes, specifically the images of black
professional and college level athletes. There are many factors that allow the media to showcase
images of black athletes that are inaccurate. For example, the sports reporters that represent and
describe athletes through television or social media have a huge impact on society. Although
67% of National League Football (NFL) are black, these players are portrayed by those who
control the media coverage, which tends to be mainly white men. (Biber 2015) In fact, only
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7.6% of press sports editors are black, while 79% of television and radio announcers are white.
(Arnett 2015) Sports can be quite objective and many sports fans don’t need the media to
interpret the player’s abilities or the results of the game. However, the media still gives
interesting information to the public as a type of show business.
Not only do the sports reporters affect the perception of black athletes, but they tend to
overly associate these individuals with negative stereotypes and representations. For those who
participate in sports or watch sports, it is no surprise that black athletes’ images are presented
differently and the athletes themselves are treated contrarily when compared to white athletes. A
study done by Dr. Cynthia Frisby, an associate professor of communications at the University of
Missouri, supports this idea. The study looked at 155 news articles written about athletes and
found that black athletes were overrepresented in crime stories, and also domestic violence
stories. In fact, the study found that 53% of the stories examined associated black athletes with a
negative connotation or tone. On the other hand, only 27% of the articles written about white
athletes had a negative tone. (Arnett 2015)
While sports media tends to highlight negative incidents associated with black athletes,
this fuels society’s tendency to belief in racial stereotypes. For example, in competitive sports,
black athletes are often portrayed as physical super humans with extreme strength. However,
athletic talent should not be assumed, according to skin color. The way in which the media
portrays black athletes as purely “physical beings” is dehumanizing, and can really threaten their
well-being. This overrepresentation of extreme strength can also lead to greater consequences in
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sports penalties. One example of this is how Serena Williams, a famous tennis player, was
punished for her anger after her loss in the US Open. In the heat of a championship game, it is
natural for players to react with intense passion and competitive edge. However, the referees
took Serena’s anger to be threatening and issued her a fine of $17,000 for her behavior.
As an athlete it is not easy being black an being an athlete. You are expected to just be an
athlete and to shut up. As an athlete it makes athletes feel like slaves to a system, which is
partially true. This statement holds true for mainly college athletes because they make a crazy
amount of money for their university and see none of the money that they are working for. They
have little money to survive yet are expected to perform at a top level. That is like trying to drive
a car with no fuel, it’ll eventually destroy itself in time. Therefore, the university is making
money off of these athlete’s labor, which in business terms it is known as free labor aka
“slavery.”
As the media often perceives black athletes as being super humans, on the other hand, the
media tends to portray black athletes as inferior to their white counterparts when it comes to
academics. When considering this concept, it is important to keep in mind the many education
scandals brought to light in colligate sports. For example, many of the controversies involved
black athletes that were found to be “illiterate,” but still able to compete in sports, gaining
recognition for this school. It is sad that black athletes must prove themselves not only on the
field, but in the classroom, while white athletes are just assumed to be intelligent and successful.
It is important to understand that regardless of the stereotypes, athletes of all races and ethnicities
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triumph and struggle the same in academics, whether it be the classroom topics, workload, or
time management. (Cooper 2018)
As an athlete it is not easy to maintain a high GPA and be a productive athlete on any
team. These athletes are forced to maintain their studies and make it to practice. While other
students are spending time studying for big exams, athletes are stuck trying to maintain sleep
along with the right time to study and are expected to reach success regardless. Due to a stigma
about black athletes, some teachers automatically expect that these athletes are a waste of time
and will not amount to anything in the classroom.
Unfortunately, some black athletes believe this as well. Based on the perception put on
black athletes, some athletes let themselves fall into this stigma because of the perception that
they have been given. They don’t think they will amount to anything other than an athlete and
they put all their hope into being an athlete. This who don’t go to the league or the Olympics
usually have a tough time adapting back to society and fall to depression, and have a tough time
getting a good job.
Not only has sports media created an inaccurate portrayal of black lives, but the news
media also tends to stereotype people, creating a negative image. Different types of news media
that promote these negative images include newspapers, magazines, television news and more.
Not only do these forms of media create barriers within society, but they are assuming
characteristics and actions based on one’s skin color. A study done by the Opportunity Agenda,
funded by the Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement, found
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tremendous evidence showing that black is exaggerated in reports involving drugs, poverty, and
violent crime.
The news media should not automatically associate black individuals with drug use, and
drug use is one of the most common stereotypes depicted by the media, specifically mass drug
use. However, a survey from the United States Justice Department revealed that only 6 percent
of black people in America had tried using cocaine in their life, and that of that 6 percent, less
than 66 percent has used it fewer than 11 times. When considering how big the drug industry is
today around the world, 6 percent is an extremely small number. In fact, among white
respondents of the survey, 10.6 percent had tried or used cocaine. (Kell 1997) Drug use can
happen anytime and anywhere. In some cases, it is easier for reporters to show up on an innercity street and catch a drug deal on camera. However, it is nearly impossible for a reporter to
show up on Wall street and catch clerks dealing drugs in their offices. Whether it be on a city
street or in an office, drug use is every bit as prevalent, however, the media chooses to highlight
drug use in locations that allow viewers to make a correlation between skin color and drugs.
Not only does the news media correlate back citizens with drug use, but the media also
tends to associate violent crimes with black individuals as well. In the news media, incidents of
violent crimes involving black individuals tends to be more highlighted, when compared to
violent crimes associated with white people. The news media tends to showcase incidents that
involve a black man assaulting a white man more often, even though this is not an accurate
representation of the crime tendencies in America. In fact, only 10% of victims in violent crime
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reports were white, however, these crimes made up almost half of the reports on local television
news stations.
These stereotypes create a perception for young males and females all around the world.
Kids now believe they don’t have anyway of making it out of their situation other than being an
entertainer or a drug dealer. So, when people present them with the idea of going to college, they
do not see the vision that some people make up for them. They only see what they know and
what they know is all that they see.
The news media also tends to associate black individuals and families with poverty.
When considering the average poverty rate in America, the rate of black Americans is at 22%,
which may seem rather high at first glance. However, black citizens only make up 9 million of
the total 41 million Americans who are poor or in poverty in America. The Kaiser Family
Foundation, which is a non-profit organization, found that there were more black people when
compared to white people in poverty, within only 5 out of 50 states in America. (C.K. 2018)
However, it is no secret that the news media tends to emphasize these rates as being much
higher.
There are really no television news stations that are more biased than others, even though
people tend to think that some are more accurate. For example, CNN did a broadcast, discussing
seven poor families, all of which were black families. (C.K. 2018) One reporter mentioned, “The
idle black male on the street corner is not the ‘true face’ of poverty in America, but is the
dominant one in the world as depicted by the [news] media.” Bas Van Doorn, a professor at the
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College of Wooster in Ohio, conducted a study that examined 474 United States domestic
poverty-related stories in news sources such as Time Magazine, Newsweek, and US News and
World Report. The researcher found that black people were quite overrepresented as poor, even
though they only made up one fourth of the people existing below the poverty line. (Donaldson
2015)
The media’s negative perception of black individuals is demoralizing, allowing innocent
people to fall victim to perception itself. It is no secret that the mass media has power, and they
are positively aware of its vast power that has the potential to shape ideas, opinions and attitudes.
Over the past years, little change has been done to equalize the media, and many agree that the
media should be using their tremendous power for the better, promoting positive social change.
It is important to recognize that we as humans, determine the outcomes of our own lives for the
good or bad. People of America must look past the media’s distortions and shape their own
opinions of people, not based on skin color, but rather, based on one’s character. We should get
to know one another by forming relationships, rather than through images portrayed by media.
Also, if we took the time to put out positive influences into social media, we can help
change the perception of blacks in the media. BY doing this we could create a nation where
blacks believe in themselves and will take opportunities that are given to them. Although the
news may never change the perception of black people, we as a culture must do whatever it takes
to change the perception. We must also must no be scared to make a difference because it is not
the cool thing to do. Its time for us to take time to love, help, and push one another.
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References
Arnett, A. (2015). Media fuels negative perception of black athletes. Diverse, 2018. Retrieved
from https://diverseeducation.com/article/73591/
Biber, D., Fisher, J., Czech, D., Zakrajsek, R., Gentner, N., Burdette, T., Metzler, J., Coleman,
K., Burden, W., and T. Jordan. (2015). The experience of media and race in the national
football league- An existential phenomenological study. The Sports Journal. Retrieved
from https://thesportjournal.org/article/the-experience-of-media-and-race-in-the-nationalfootball-league-an-existential-phenomenological-study/
C. K. (2018). Black Americans are over-represented in media portrayals of poverty. The
Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/democracy-inamerica/2018/02/20/black-americans-are-over-represented-in-media-portrayals-ofpoverty
Cooper, J. (2018). Dangerous stereotypes stalk black college athletes. The conversation, 20
August 2018. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/dangerous-stereotypes-stalkblack-college-athletes-101655
Donaldson, L. (2015). When the media misrepresents black men, the effects are felt in the real
world. The guardian. Published on 12 August 2015. Retrieved from
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/12/media-misrepresents-blackmen-effects-felt-real-world
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Kell, G. (1997). Media is much to blame for negative stereotypes about African American men,
says UC Berkeley journalism professor. Public affairs. Published on 4 April 1997.
Retrieved from https://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/97legacy/stereo.html
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