Racial Disparity and the News

They are inseparable to be sure. Race and the news. Does the news deliver race issues unbiased and accurate? What percentage of race issues consumes our cable, print, news and blog entities allotment? Are news entities more concerned with what appeases the advertisers as opposed to informing and educating?

As a debate analogy lets use missing persons. Let’s use the stories of Phylicia Barnes  and Natalee Holloway.  There is no arguing missing minorities don’t receive their fair share of air time as opposed to their white missing counterparts. The story of Phylicia Barnes has proved that once again.  This is not to diminish the urgency of reporting any missing individual with the hopes of press coverage being one of many vehicles that lead to their safe recovery; however missing whites are latched on to by the likes of one well known cable news network like a pit bull on an intruder’s leg while minorities are shunned and ignored .

Even in network news missing minorities all too often get a sidebar allotment, or never get mentioned at all. Much too often in print media such stories are relegated to the paper’s metro or community section never seeing the light of the front page.

But back to Phylicia & Natalee.

The disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway while on vacation in Aruba nearly six years ago sparked a media frenzy. And the truth is, Natalee has remained in the news for six years.  But news coverage has been relatively sparse in the recent case Phylicia’s case. Baltimore Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi resonated the obvious when appearing on a recent episode of The Today Show to gain exposure for missing Phylicia Barnes.

This is Baltimore’s Natalee Holloway case,”  Guglielmi told viewers. “This is a young woman who came to Baltimore and just disappeared.”

The spokesman tried for days  to solicit media from outside Baltimore and Phylicia’s hometown in North Carolina to give the case supplemental national exposure. In a published Baltimore Sun story, Guglielmi recounted his efforts to spread the word. CNN’s Nancy Grace and CBS Early Morning fell through (police said producers never called back), but NBC did do a piece. Nancy Grace also eventually 12 days into the missing case gave it a presentation.

The question is what criteria, if not one of race , does mainstream media use to determine what missing person’s story to cover?

I’d like to hear that answer when it comes to Phylicia & Natalee. Take a look.

Both girls share  striking similarities  , great students, no history of drug use or abuse, no anarchistic child against parent episodes, and both girls disappear from cities they are visiting.  Their parents are even similar in their situations and characteristics. Divorced, similar economic backgrounds and both sets of   parents were equally pertinacious about  media exposure, starting their own flyer circulation network as well as embedding themselves within the day to day investigative progress and searches of the involved authorities. So we can discredit the occasional ” the relatives weren’t involved enough” cop out.

The media makes the difference. And it’s impossible to debate that the only disparity  the media sees among these two girls is eye, hair, and skin color. Because that is the only difference. And, again, blond hair and blue eyes win out.

Natalee was saturated with nationwide coverage from day one, while Phylicia remaines obscure to pretty much all except the locals in the city she vanished from.

To be true with no regards for political correctiveness and social litigated false charges of playing the race card, I submit that   the media’s criteria for coverage of these and many other cases of missing and exploited children, the disparity in coverage can be only charged  to race.  Black life only has value to main stream media  when it can be oppressively exploited, demeaned, or  emasculated  to profit the self appointed powers that be and at the further oppression and degregation of the African American race and community as a whole.

A fact that’s problematic and a hindrance when it comes to missing and exploited women and children getting effective exposure that could be bridges to resolution of their cases.

In the 1940s, novelist Langston Hughes created Jesse B. Semple, a Black man called“Simple” by his friends, whose front-porch commentary on life in Harlem included insights on life, race and the news Simple…well he simplified news coverage by submitting “The only time colored folks is front-page news is when there’s been a lynching or a boycott or a whole bunch of us have been butchered or is arrested,”.

Simple pretty much summed it up.

Each time I breach this subject the last question left on the table is “How do you change the biased media coverage and portrayal of people of color?.


Author: Geo Gee

I'm a curious one that finds politics, social issues, and diverse progressive solutions interesting. I believe information and education are the most powerful weapons one can arm himself with. Those two dynamics alone open the doors to opportunities. I also subscribe to each one teach one for a better world for all.

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