Panel Addresses Relationships between Media, Race, and Policy

(via Civil

By staff
December 19, 2005

The media often stimulate racial animosity, participants in a December 6 panel discussion at the U.S. Capitol said.

The panel, speaking at a briefing sponsored by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, said that the mass media convey impressions that whites occupy different moral universes from African Americans, Hispanics, and other people of color.

While the media do occasionally convey images of harmony and similarity, the impact of positive images is often swamped by the preponderance of the more common and vivid negative images, and by the effects of systematic omissions.

Professor Robert Entman of N.C State University presented new data on the way the media operate, the images they produce, and the influence they exert, concluding that these negative images have negative impact on both people of color and whites.

Among Entman's findings: local TV newscasts stereotype issues of crime and poverty; network newscasts rarely feature black and Latino experts; and black politicians receive more critical coverage than white politicians.

The situation in fiction media is equally bleak, with a paucity of what Entman called "serious" roles for African Americans, and "stereotyped, niche roles" for Latinos and Asian Americans.

A report issued December 1 by the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC) gives middling grades to the networks on their efforts to increase diversity before and behind the camera.

According to the report, The 2005 Asian Pacific American Report Card on Television Diversity, no major network earned an overall grade better than a C+. Grades are based on data provided by ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX.

"Primetime television this season does not mirror the realities of the growing numbers of Asian Pacific Americans in the USA," Karen Narasaki, president of the Asian American Justice Center and APAMC chair said.

Narasaki participated in the December 6 LCCREF panel, along with Kareem Shora, director, Legal Department / Policy, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Gloria Tristani, managing director, Office of Communication, United Church of Christ, Inc. and former FCC commissioner; and Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president and CEO, Media Access Project.

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