Our discussion of the prevalence of racial bias in how violence is portrayed in the media continues. Today’s response is from Professor Lisa Schweitzer, who specializes in urban studies, particularly empirical analysis of social justice, environment, and transport in cities.
Bedrosian Center: What’s one thing we can do better to address biases in how the media portrays race and violence?
Schweitzer: From a governance perspective, one thing that should worry us about race and the media concerns the problem that mass media audiences no longer really exist and that, for the most part, media consumers have copious opportunities to enter into intellectual cul-de-sacs from which they never have to leave. Individuals seem to have a strong preference for having news stories framed in ways that reflect and reinforce their starting attitudes. That is very dangerous, I think, but nowhere is it more dangerous than in trying to have a serious dialogue about race. It means that people who want to remain in a privileged bubble can stay there, happily, and news media, which is a for-profit industry, will serve up news that frames race in dehumanizing ways for the part of the market that wants to consume it. The same is true for social media. So while there is an incredible dialogue about race going on via Black Twitter that anybody who wants to be educated about race and policy or race culture should be reading, it’s also possible to create a Twitter feed of fellow post-racialists reassuring everybody that it’s all good and anybody who recognizes that white supremacy is an issue is merely a race-baiter- an agitator profiting from dividing Americans against each other.
Bedrosian Center: Do you have any recommendations for interesting sites, blogs, or people to follow for anyone who might want some different perspectives on the news?
Schweitzer: We need more attention to geoethnic, independent media and for diversifying journalists and commentators in global media. I had gotten rather bored with NPR, but when they introduced Code Switch, NPR once again hit a cutting edge. At the individual level, educated people should feel an obligation to read, watch, and listen from a diversity of media perspectives in order to consider themselves politically and culturally informed. I don’t care if a perspective bothers you or makes you angry; there are more important things than how you feel when you read something. I read all of Thomas Sowell’s books when they come out, even if I don’t agree with the guy, and he often makes me furious. But he’s got a lot to say as a Black conservative.
This post is part of our series on Race and Violence in the Media.