RACIAL STEREOTYPING OF AFRICAN AMERICANS IN MEDIA CRIMINAL NEWS REPORTS
Stereotypic tendency is one’s mental focus on the close other. For class, it is a groups’ common focus against, possibly, the close other. In most cases, stereotypes occur due to pre-conceived human discontentment on a category of individuals, possible accomplishments, experience and environmental set up. With this in mind, racial stereotyping denotes genealogical human clash. Media news has the highest human utility rate. Its preference is partly due to ease, but more so, to amount of information delivered at any given time. Information on particular criminal incidences receives myriad attention, due to its high correlation factor to human co-existence. Misreporting of such incidences has adverse effects on the social realm. The paper presents the manner in which media crime reports are carried out, elements of racial biases in the course of reporting, perpetual tendency developed besides overall aftermaths due to racial-biased reported crimes. These factors were studied independently by soliciting tangible evidences available, critical overview of the methodological approach by media in crime reporting besides an in-depth analysis of the general effects due to biased news reporting respectively. The outcome is envisaged to help develop plausible mitigation mechanism for reducing racial-bias in crime media reporting.
Keywords: stereotype, race, media, crime
RACIAL STEREOTYPING OF AFRICAN AMERICANS IN MEDIA CRIMINAL NEWS REPORTS
Stereotypic tendency is one’s mental focus on the close other. For class, it is a groups’ common focus against, possibly, the close other. In most cases, stereotypes occur due to pre-conceived human discontentment on a category of individuals, possible accomplishments, experience and environmental set up. With this in mind therefore, racial stereotyping denotes genealogical human clash.
Human beings thrive on social interaction. No one human being was meant or is meant to survive without the other. As much as we have differences in backgrounds, tastes, experiences, objectives and general outlook to surroundings, it serves no interest to set boundaries from other potential persons. In fact, the term humane carries a connotation of being concerned. Meaning, disproportional tendencies to a particular class of people ought to have warbled in the earlier centuries.
African Americans have had a lot of challenges, especially when in the same set up as their counterparts. Decades or even centuries of pain, rejection and sidelining have caused a feeling of inferiority and as such, affected their associational performance. They are generally considered the ‘bad’ group, the unsuccessful, always associated with any wrongdoing or happening. The Unscrupulous so, to say. But, should this be the norm?
Many scholarly works have been carried out on the general subjects of racism, misrepresentation in crime news broadcasts and social discrimination. Reports of studies on possible effects, of the three norms, on human socialism are also evident. For instance, Barnett (2003) explored the guilty nature, an individual, possibly of a different race, is left with, during or after bias crime reporting. He based his argument on the facts provided while disseminating live television broadcasts on criminal activities. In his article, Barnett observes that the tacit picture created due to stereotyping is not only in-cognitive rather, has grown to a skewed point. It is important to note that at such levels, as Barnett explains, a social barrier is eminent. So that when an activity is carried out in a racial stereotypic-prone environment, it’s obvious that co-existential correlation factor between the two conflicting parties never suffice. The worst of situational occurrences are the visual news transmissions via the televisions. He observes that journalist’s pre-conceptions on racial grounds determine the manner in which news broadcasts on criminal incidences are or can be reported. This is to say that stereotyping is a judgmental factor between the whites and the black American.
Seemingly related to Barnett’s postulates of media stereotyping in socialism is Miller’s argument. According to Millers (2009), the interface between race and suspects in criminal investigations provides an unhealthy and confusing ground for viewers any time a criminal incidence is reported to have occurred, yet the suspects are still at large, though, investigations could still be on. He asserts that use of physical descriptions, by the law enforcers, in determining traceability mode for criminals lacks homogeneity. This is true because, by using racial tenets, in itself, sets precedence (by the law enforcement groups) of the fact that crime is prone but unidirectional. Since organizational racial discrimination exists as early as fortieth century, then it is imperative to assume that the law enforcers would have clean lines of action in their bid to hold the actual suspects responsible.
Also, Kelly, Welch. (2007), goes further to argue on the in-depth of racial stereotyping in media criminal reporting by providing a clear cut analysis of the effects injected by the menace. According to Kelly, racial misappropriations in crime news broadcasts are not only a U.S shortcoming, but also in other areas such as Canada, are all inclusive (p.278, 281). Welch underpins the fact that black young people are quick prey for the predators-law enforcement teams, as they are always perceived to be not only trouble igniters, but real time destructors. He observes that categorization of criminals, in terms of race, has caused an identity shortcoming to the perpetrators-blacks while the victims-whites remains scot-free. Indeed, this is not only myopic in the orientation of an ultimate socialistic globe, rather presents a social-partial human in-cognitive syndrome. Lee (2014), in his famous quote “To Kill a Mockingbird” had this in mind.
Similar psychological impacts have been reported by Travis Dixon. Dixon (2008) assessed the precursor thoughts in the minds of some selected whites and blacks concerning crime victimization and crime perpetrators based on crime news which was to be broadcasted. To his embezzlement, stereotypical judgments carried the day! He eludes this to the fact that black American, in relation to criminal tendencies, is a perpetrator. However, a white American takes the victim’s couch. His major concern is the fact that though criminal incidences are on the rise in the U.S, stereotypic reporting of such crimes causes a double challenge to human co-existence. Dixon warns that such disparities, if left to thrive, would possibly lead to multiple levels of racial stereotypic growths (p.589).
This means that generational racial differences would not only sprout rather, possible culturing tendencies would cause a major drift between the core parties. In addition, if from a story (Dixon’s methodological approach) set-up, mind pre-conceptions led to such a stunning conclusion, then it is no doubt that the effects of racial disparity are punitive, though, quite impartial. They are intrinsically planted in the minds of the ‘hosts’.
Furthermore, in their combined study, Dixon and Maddox (2005) indicated the statistical levels of misrepresentation between blacks and whites in media crime reporting. As much as the perpetrators-black to victims-white had a ration of 37:21, the reverse was never the case. Instead, a stunning 23:28 ration for blacks as victims and whites as perpetrators, respectively, was recorded (p.1555). Indicating a correlation factor < 1
In Ted Chiricos’ and Sarah Eschholz’s view of racial stereotyping, there exists a hard core rapport between ethnicity and race. They implicate this phenomenon to the manner in which media news broadcasts on criminal investigations are carried out. Acknowledging the fact that social mingles between the whites and the blacks, on the ‘well-being’ platform, never exist. In fact, from their combined work, ethnicity doesn’t revolve around the two racial classes only; rather, other races such as Latinos and Hispania are also included. This results from existential nature of different genealogical groups. Now, what can we pin the origin of this menace to?
In partial agreement with Chiricos’ hypothetical tendency on socialism, stereotyping has its origin back in the ancestral age. I mean, if those before us were ant-racialists at an early age, then, we wouldn’t have had these barbaric cases. But now that we have, isn’t it our solemn role to ensure that the social-human angelic norm is not curtailed further?
Very close relationship to Chirico’s postulates, is Linz’s school of thought on stereotypic factor to socialism. According to Linz (2000), misappropriations in criminal news reporting immediately drop a social human-gorilla facet between the white Americans and the black Americans.
Also, I wish to embrace Gruenewald’s aspects of media news authenticity factor on human co-existence. How much worth is the news report on crime? What determines the worthiness of criminally oriented news broadcast? As we all know, any criminal occurrence has got master plans. Should we be so certain on whom the suspects are, particularly mono-racial, that stereotypic wagon destinies nowhere else other than the media room? As much as Gruenewald indicates that some criminal news never get to the media houses, or may be are not given much attention, I would wish to reiterate that if there is anything the media culture considers news, let it have criminal attachments.
Limitations. There are two main forms of limitations occasioned during this study: Racial difference while carrying out oral interviews and filling of questionnaires and fear factor due to victimization.
In this research, both qualitative and quantitative methods were used. In qualitative method, oral interviews, telephone conversations and observations provided immediate data. For quantitative approach, questionnaires and survey were adopted. Primary data were analyzed and coordinated with secondary data. Results obtained were as follows;
Of the 300 persons interviewed by the two modes, on media psychological existence of racism, 43% blacks had positive responses. The remaining 7% blacks were reluctant in their responses. On the other side, out of the 50% whites interviewed on the matter, there were 7% positive responses; 80% of the remaining were reluctant. The remaining lot was uncertain.
Further, from the three hundred questionnaires dispatched, in a unit ration, sixty percent positive responses were obtained from the blacks. Twenty six of the remaining was not filled while the rest were not sure. On the other hand, ten percent response was positive, sixty five turn down the offer while the rest opposed.
From the results above, it is worthwhile to assert that racial stereotyping in media crime reporting is not only a theoretical aspect among the whites and the African American rather, a deeply rooted human differential phenomenal with adverse physical outcomes. Associational patterns between the two variables, no matter the place, work, activity or forum, are skewed to the left, for the blacks, as the perpetrators of ‘evil’, and to the right, for the whites as the ‘victimized’ other.
These effects have caused many African Americans to lack or settle for the less competitive bids in opportunities vital for human existence. Workplaces, schools, public forums, consultancy services and mode of settlements are practical evidences of the results of racism. Racial frictions in both public and private opinions, affecting many, have been witnessed. Its in-depth occasioned by criminal news misrepresentations from the media.
Can we imagine a situation in which news broadcasts reports that the whites ought to be ultra-sensitive wherever in the company of, or association with the blacks? Or even encourage the whites to vacate regions full of the races other than the in-cognitively-perceived common? As much as security is of great importance, do we need to segregate the social-parties factor to insecurity? There are more than can meet the eye, cases of racial disparities, orchestrated by the media! I think, a better model for this can be adopted in order to cement the social-human fabric factor.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION
The paper committed itself to present the manner in which media crime reports are carried out, elements of racial biases in the course of reporting, the perpetual tendency developed besides the overall aftermaths due to racial-biased reported crimes.
From the work discussed herein, it is clear that racial-biased stereotyping in media crime reporting is a factor of social dysfunction between the white American and the African American. The drift is widened by the frequency in which the bias reporting is done. Thus, the social umbrella between the two human classes suffers a terrible blow.
In order to mitigate this trend, therefore, it is important to carry out both intensive and extensive public awareness campaigns on the subject matter discussed. The trauma caused by misrepresentation of criminal reports by the media should be handled cordially. Both races ought to be fabricated by ensuring zero imbalances in assigning opportunities. Furthermore, the two classes, in crime media reporting, should embrace the symbolic ‘holding of hands’ as foreseen by Martin Luther K. Jr. (2014) in his famous quote of the dream between white girls and boys and black girls and boys.
Further works on this subject can be carried out on whether or not any mechanisms are in place to curb racial stereotyping in mass media crime reporting and if so, establish the level of success achieved.
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