Industry Research

Be sure to check out our own research on the Black Research Matters page.

Nielsen: Rivals Undercount Minority Viewers (2019)

Measurement giant says use of return-path data would hurt industry diversity

Facing competition from rivals and challenges from clients, Nielsen is defending its dominance in the media measurement business by insisting its methods more accurately count minorities and preserve diversity in media in a way big-data providers don’t. Many of Nielsen’s would-be rivals rely on return-path data from set-top boxes or smart TV sets to provide viewership information from millions of households, which they claim is more accurate than Nielsen’s old-fashioned approach based on a sample panel of 40,000 Nielsen families.
Why This Matters: In a dynamic media environment, Nielsen says its tried-and-true methodology is needed to make sure no group is counted out.

Nielsen maintains that return-path data significantly undercounts minority audiences, and that discrepancy hurts not only viewers, but programmers, talent and a $70 billion advertising business that counts on having accurate information about who is seeing commercials.
“If you move to an alternative way of measurement, there’s a really good chance that you’re going to compromise diversity and inclusion both in terms of measurement, but also in terms of advertising and subsequently on screen media talent, Kelly Abcarian, senior VP for product leadership at Nielsen, said.

“We believe the industry would suffer a ripple effect and would have no methodologically sound way of identifying what diverse audiences are watching,” Abcarian said. “Marketers looking to reach those unique audiences would become hard-pressed to do so, effectively discriminating against diverse audiences and leading to less-informed programming decisions."
Nielsen looked at return path data and found that nationally, it underrepresented Asian viewers by 35%, Hispanic viewers by 31% and African-American viewers by 22%, compared to Nielsen’s national TV panel. White/non-Hispanic viewers were overrepresented by 12%. The results varied in local markets. In Chicago, RPD data undercounted Asians and African-Americans by 27%, while over-counting Hispanics by 1% and non-Hispanic white viewers by 10%.
Nielsen recently had a tense negotiation when CBS’ ratings contract expired at the end of 2018. Talks were at an impasse for 11 days before an agreement was reached. Nielsen began talking about the diversity measurement issue just before the CBS deal was made. Abcarian wouldn’t say if the issue came up during negotiations.

“By virtue of the pressure that was brought upon it. Nielsen made a corporate decision to look at that and to go deep into those data pools,” he said. “Other companies, from what I understand, not only have they not scratched the surface, they just haven’t even acknowledged the importance of that [minority] data.” Nielsen rival Comscore, which recently picked up business from big station groups Nexstar Media Group and Gray Television, said its methodology provides better measurement of minority viewers.
“In any market or medium that is highly fragmented — as is modern TV — much larger samples are needed to capture behavior that is fragmented across hundreds or thousands of potential content options,” Comscore said in a statement. “Comscore TV and crossplatform measurement are based on massive data assets sourced from set-top boxes and our digital census network, calibrated with our consumer panels. Our TV services alone collect viewing behavior from more than 65 million TVs in more than 30 million homes nationwide.
“Since minority programming has, by definition, smaller audiences than general market programming, the measurement scale provided by nationwide set top box data assures that such programming is fairly measured even on the most niche of networks and stations,” Comscore said.

But other data experts said return-path data alone is not necessarily the answer. RPD data measures devices, not humans, and that creates a gap in properly identifying groups such as Spanish-speaking households and households with children, said Clypd chief research officer Pete Doe, a former Nielsen employee.
“There’s undoubtedly value in these new solutions,” Doe said. “But everybody needs to approach any data set with eyes open and understand what the pros and cons are.”
Former Turner chief research officer Howard Shimmmel, another Nielsen alum, said Nielsen had a point, but that set-top box data could be weighted to make it reflective of minority audiences.

“I think Comscore will need to have their TV data accredited at a certain point, and that will be one of the things that I’m sure the accreditation process will look at,” Shimmel said.

Additional studies can be downloaded here:

Nielsen Black Impact-Consumer Categories Where African Americans Move Markets (PDF, 2019)

State Of The Broadcast Industry (PDF, 2019)

Nielsen Black Dollars Matter the Sales Impact of Black Consumers (PDF, 2018)

Nielsen - millennials on millennials in the know on the go (PDF, 2018)

Past research:

Throughout the last decade, BNC has compiled multiple broadcast industry research studies and consumer polls in order to evaluate the demand for informative, educational, and inspirational programming produced to empower our underserved African American communities. BNC's management has also collected the following academic research studies that lend greater understanding to the impact that 40 years of mainstream media’s negative imagery have had on our society.

A sample of this research is provided below:

Summary of Academic Studies, Industry Research, Books, Essays and Articles

By Black News Channel

Black News Channel has compiled a sampling of publications (i.e. books, essays, journals, academic theses and studies, polling and survey results, and articles) that support the immediate launch of a 24/7 cable news channel targeting African Americans between the ages of 24 and 54.  Each publication can be provided by BNC upon request.

Lights out:  Black-owned TV stations plummet to zero

By Joseph Torres and S. Derek Turner, January 6, 2014

We just experienced a shameful milestone in the history of U.S. media – and barely anyone noticed. There are now zero black-owned and operated full-power TV stations in our country.

This sorry state of affairs is the culmination of a trend that started in the late 1990s when Congress and the Federal Communications Commission allowed massive consolidation in the broadcasting industry. This policy shift crowded out existing owners of color and ensured that it would be nearly impossible for new owners to access the public airwaves. Recent FCC actions (and in some cases, inaction) have only hastened this decline in opportunities for diverse broadcasters.

In 2006, we found that there were only 18 African- American owned and operated full-power commercial TV stations – representing just 1.3 percent of all such stations. By December 2012, those 18 had shrunk to just five. And now they’re all gone.

Broken promises
It’s hard to fathom the sorry state of broadcast ownership during the administration of our nation’s first Black president. After all, during his first presidential campaign, President Obama pledged to “encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media.”

But that hasn’t happened. Public interest and civil rights groups have warned the FCC that its policies allowing for greater media consolidation were going to push out the few remaining people of color who owned broadcast stations.

Media consolidation has made it harder for people of color to own broadcast stations because it raises entry barriers for small owners. Concentration makes it harder for any small owner to compete, and the few non-White broadcast licensees we have are far more likely to be small owners who control just a handful of stations or a single broadcast outlet.

Portrayal of Blacks in the Media

By Kathy Times, president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NAJB); Submitted by the Mintel Group, Ltd; published on

The 2010 census shows the minority population is growing from coast to coast, and the majority of children in the U.S. will be minorities by 2050. So, there’s a strong case to be made that news media is running in the wrong direction of its audience. The Big 3 networks and cable news channels have undergone a series of rare changes behind the desk. While the replacements are all seasoned journalists, what is glaringly missing in the flurry of changes is the failure to elevate African-Americans to any of these positions.”

According to Black respondents to Mintel’s exclusive survey, the media is not living up to consumer expectations in the way it portrays this group. A full 80% of Black respondents indicated that their race/ethnicity is important to them and 82% indicated that it’s important to them that Blacks are viewed positively in the media. This contrasts sharply with the low 15% who indicate that the media is portraying Black men positively and 26% who believe it is portraying Black women as such. Further, less than 20% of respondents indicated that they believe the media does a good job of reflecting Black culture today.

The State of the News Media 2013 – An annual Report on American Journalism

By Emily Guskin, Amy Mitchell and Mark Jurkowitz of the Pew Research Center


In 2012, a continued erosion of news reporting resources converged with growing opportunities for those in politics, government agencies, companies and others to take their messages directly to the public.

Signs of the shrinking reporting power are documented throughout this year’s report. Estimates for newspaper newsroom cutbacks in 2012 put the industry down 30% since its peak in 2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for the first time since 1978. In local TV, our special content report reveals, sports, weather and traffic now account on average for 40% of the content produced on the newscasts studied while story lengths shrink. On CNN, the cable channel that has branded itself around deep reporting, produced story packages were cut nearly in half from 2007 to 2012. Across the three cable channels, coverage of live events during the day, which often require a crew and correspondent, fell 30% from 2007 to 2012 while interview segments, which tend to take fewer resources and can be scheduled in advance, were up 31%. Time magazine, the only major print news weekly left standing, cut roughly 5% of its staff in early 2013 as a part of broader company layoffs. And in African-American news media, the Chicago Defender has winnowed its editorial staff to just four while The Afro cut back the number of pages in its papers from 28-32 in 2008 to 16-20 in 2012. A growing list of media outlets, such as Forbes magazine, use technology by a company called Narrative Science to produce content by way of algorithm, no human reporting necessary. And some of the newer non-profit entrants into the industry, such as the Chicago News Cooperative, have, after launching with much fanfare, shut their doors.

This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands. And findings from our new public opinion survey released in this report reveal that the public is taking notice. Nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to.

The story about how African American-oriented news media coped last year was a difficult one at best. On television, a platform African Americans turn to for news at even greater rates than Americans over all, news continues to fight for a place in African American programming.

NIELSEN 2012: The State of the African American Consumer

1.       Nielsen 2012:  The State of the African American Consumer (Part 2) and African American Consumers:  Still vital, Still Growing (Part 2 of a 3 part series of Nielsen Reports)

91% of African Americans believe that Black owned and controlled media is more relevant to them.  73% believe that Black media keeps them in touch with their heritage.

These two reports provide in-depth analysis of the African American consumer to help better understand their general viewing preferences, buying behaviors and what influences and motivates their actions.

2.       Nielsen Local TV Market Universe Estimates:  Black TV Homes, January 2011.

African American TV households by Designated Market Area (DMA) and as a percentage of the total U.S. households.


1.      Media Consumption, Perceptions of Crime Risk and Fear of Crime, Valerie J. Callanan, University of Akron, 2012.

This study compares the impact of multiple forms of crime-related across white, Latino, and African ring American respondents on their perception of crime risk in their neighborhoods and fear of crime, using state-wide survey of 3,712 Californians.  The findings indicate some difference in the impact of crime-related media by different media forms and across race/ethnic groups.  Consumption of local television news significantly elevated perception.

2.     Covering Victims in the News:  What Makes Minority Homicides Newsworthy?  Jeff Gruenewald, Steven M. Chermak and Jesenia M. Pizarro, Justice Quarterly 2011.

The current study builds on the homicide and media criminological literature by examining the newsworthiness of 866 homicide incidents that occurred in Newark, NJ between 1997 and 2007.  Recognizing that indicators of newsworthiness may vary by homicide victim gender and race/ethnicity, this study comparatively assesses the effects of suspect, victim, and incident variables on homicides against female, black and Hispanic victims.  It discusses how cultural stereotypes may shape evaluations of newsworthiness and conclude with implications for theory and future research directories.

3.     Media and public perceptions of the police; examining the impact of race and personal experience.  Valerie J. Callanan and Jared S. Rosenberger Policing & Society June 2011.

The purpose of this study is to examine the influence of crime-related media consumption on individual’ opinions of the police.  Consumption of crime-related media increased confidence in the police among White respondents, but had no effect on Latinos or African-Americans.


1.     Race and the Media in Natural Disasters:  The Media’s Portrayal of African Americans in the Galveston Storm of 1900 and in Hurricane Katrina.  Melanie M. Gilbert, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, May 2011.

“It has been my contention that the media is a dominant force which inhibits African Americans from coping with natural disasters.  This was certainly evident in the 1900 Galveston hurricane and in Hurricane Katrina as the media focused almost exclusively on black men and women when they reported cases of exploitation and vandalism.  Again, this makes African Americans appear as criminals in society; thus racism is intensified, causing more hardships for them in the wake of disasters.  And the exclusion of media reports on African American contributions during both storms shows that little improvement has been made to eliminate the inherent racism within society.

2.      Speaking of Looting:  An Analysis of Racial Propaganda in National Television Coverage of Hurricane Katrina; Kirk A. Johnson, Mark L. Dolan, John Sonnett, University of Mississippi, Howard Journal of Communications, 2011.

Few analyses offer statistical support for claims that news broadcasts during Hurricane Katrina propagated racist ideologies.  The authors conducted a content analysis of the first week of network and cable television broadcasts from New Orleans after the hurricane made landfall.  Although many hurricane victims were low-income African Americans, news of looting and other activities featured disproportionate numbers of Whites, particularly in speaking roles.  In general, White journalists and sources were sympathetic toward African American victims but critical of their behavior when it did not confirm to White middle-class norms.  The authors believe such coverage reflects aversive racism, a subtle and conflicted form of contemporary racial animosity.

3.     Constructing “the Other”:  Media Representations of Katrina Evacuees in Houston, Texas.  Deirdre M. Warren, Race and Justice 2012.

Results indicate an almost exclusive association of the Katrina evacuees with the low income, African American residents of New Orleans, as well as an increasing focus on evacuees as threats to community safety.  Distinct to Houston coverage, results yield an emphasis on evacuees as burdens to community resources, including the management of evacuee drug addiction and mental health issues.  Finally, evidence of color-blind racism in media entries is discussed.

MEDIA, RACE AND OBAMA’S FIRST YEAR:  A Study of African Americans in U.S. News Coverage; Pew Research Center

As a group, African Americans attracted relatively little attention in the U.S. mainstream news media during the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency—and what coverage there was tended to focus more on specific episodes than on examining how broader issues and trends affected the lives of blacks generally, according to a year-long study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and its Social and Demographic Trends Project.

From early 2009 through early 2010, the biggest news story related to African Americans was the controversy triggered by the arrest last summer of a prominent black Harvard University professor by a white Cambridge, Massachusetts police officer.  It accounted for nearly four times more African American-related coverage than did either of two biggest national “issue” stories covered by the mainstream media during the same period – the economy and health care.

2.   Uncovering Race in 2008:  Media, Politics and the Reporter’s Eye:  Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development, Fall 2009.

More than any other national election in recorded history, the 2008 political contest placed race front and center of sustained media attention.  This article explores the ways in which race has been reflected in traditional news reporting frameworks, drawing upon insights from unpublished interviews with reporters and journalists.  These, in turn, may illustrate patterns that influence the way we read the news and the way in which we view race.

COLOR BLIND:   Race and the Ethical Reasoning of Blacks on Journalism Dilemmas

1.     Color Blind:  Race and the Ethical Reasoning of Blacks on Journalism Dilemmas; Renita Coleman, J&MC Quarterly, Summer 2011.

This study used a controlled experiment in investigate the effects of a story subject’s race on black journalism students’ ethical reasoning by changing only the race of the people in the photographs.

2.   Religion and Public Life, Pew Research Center, 2007.

While the U.S. is generally considered a highly religious nation.  African Americans are markedly more religious on a variety of measures than the U.S. population as a whole, including level of affiliation with a religion, attendance at religious services, frequency of prayer and religions importance in life.  Compared with other racial and ethnic groups, African Americans are among the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation, with fully 87% of African Americans describing themselves as belong to one religious group or another.

3.   Media Attention on African Americas with Human Immunodeficiency Virus; Charles S Beverly, Jr., Edith M. Williams, and Saundra H. Glover, Environmental Justice, November 2011.

This manuscript addresses the question that has preoccupied the minds of many people:  Why have African Americans infected with HIV received so little media attention?  Analysis of this question suggests that there are many reasons for this lack of media attention.  One reason in particular is the media trends to be much less attentive to diseases, such as HIV, that disproportionately burden blacks relative to whites.  We also find that the media is reluctant to write about HIV in African Americans because it portrays them negatively.  The media suggests that people are bombarded with negative news about African Americans and writing about them with regard to HIV only reinforces the negative.

The Entrapment of African Americans through the Negative Imagery of Television News [3-ring binder]

1.   African Americans in TV News:  From Description to Explanation, Camilla Gant, Ph.D., State University of West Georgia, John Dimmick, Ph.D., Ohio State University.

“Since the 1970’s, media analysts have documented disparities between the portrayal of African American television newsmakers and that of White American television newsmakers.  This study takes issue with what is representative and offers suggestions about how television news decision makers as well as organizations that subsidize television news can bring parity to portrayals of African American television newsmakers.   Why are African Americans infrequently seen and heard as television newsmakers?  Why do news story topics and roles in which African Americans appear lack diversity?

Three basic assumptions guided this study.

  1. Television news is not an “objective” report about reality.  It is a reality that television news decision makers intersubjectively construct.  Consequently, television news decision makers are not being criticized for inaccurately portraying some objective reality, but for portraying unrepresentative realities.
  2. The proportion of African American television newsmakers should parallel the proportion of African Americans in the population.  When situated as public trustees, it seems justifiable that broadcasters should be held accountable for representatively reflecting the racial diversity of American society.
  3. Television news is partly shaped by economic logic.  That is, news routines and requisites are in part structured to ensure efficiency and profits, sometimes at the expense of compromising representativeness.”

2.     Children’s Perception of Race and Class on Television by Debbie Reese,

”For decades, educators and parents have expressed concern over the ways in which people are portrayed on television.  There was a fear that children were getting a skewed concept about people’s abilities and character based on stereotypical representations of gender, race, or class. This fear led to a number of research studies that analyzed the television roles of men, women, people of color, and people from various social-economic levels.

  • African American children strongly feel that entertainment media represent their race more fairly than the news media (47% to 25%).
  • Children across all races associate positive characteristics more with the White characters they see on television and negative characteristics more with the minority characters.
  • All children agree that the roles of boss, secretary, police officer, and doctor in television programs are usually played by White people while the roles of criminal and maid/janitor on television are usually played by African Americans.  Never do children see Latino or Asian characters as the dominant person in the listed roles.
  • Although children think that all races are shown doing “both” good and bad things on the news, they agree that the news media tends to portray African American and Latino people more negatively than White and Asian people.
  • Large majorities of African American, Asian, and Latino children feel there should be more people of their races as newscasters, while most White children feel there are enough White newscasters.”

3.     Reinforcing Stereotypes? Race and Local Television News Coverage of Congress, Brian F. Schaffner, American University, and Mark Gadson, Western Michigan University.

“Despite the increasingly diverse legislative records of African American members of Congress, much of the population continues to believe that African Americans legislators are interested only in minority issues.  If African American House members are becoming more like their non-black colleagues, then why do many citizens continue to hold these stereotypes about African American legislators?  We find that local television newscasts devote more coverage of African American members of Congress but this coverage is also more race-oriented, especially in less diverse markets.  In fact, local television stations produce more race oriented coverage of African American legislators regardless of their legislative records on minority issues.

4.     How the Media Compound Urban Problems, Peter Dreier, Journal of Urban Affairs, Occidental College.

“Major news media coverage of cities reinforces an overwhelmingly negative and misleading view of urban America.  The images from the nightly news, newsweeklies, and on the pages of our daily newspapers are an unrelenting story of social pathology—mounting crime, gangs, drug wars, racial tension, homelessness, teenage pregnancy, AIDS, inadequate schools and slum housing.  Moreover, this perspective on our cities in compounded by misleading news coverage of government efforts to address these problem.  Government programs are typically covered as well-intentioned by misguided, plagued by mismanagement inefficiency, and in some cases, corruption.  There is very little news coverage of collective efforts by unions, community organizations, and other grassroots groups to address problems.  Only when such efforts include drama, conflict, and/or violence do the major media typically pay attention.”

 5.     Media, Group Identity and Self-Esteem among African Americans: A Program of Research, Richard L. Allen, University of Michigan.

“The print and the electronic media, and especially cinema and television, have shown African peoples and other people of color in comedic stances and in degrading ways.  The depictions have suggested that African peoples are not interested in and do not care about serious matters, are frivolous and irresponsible, and are unable to participate in the mainstream of U.S. society.  Television has been notably powerful in implying, suggesting, and maintaining this myth.  Broume noted that the images of African Americans when not controlled by African Americans, serve a specific purpose for those who control those images, namely, to reinforce and rationalize blacks’ subordinate place in society.”

6.     The Portrayal of Race and Crime on Television Network News, Tavis Dixon, Cristina L. Azocar and Michael Cosas, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, December 2003.

“A content analysis of television network news was conducted to assess the portrayal of race and criminal behavior.  Whites were overrepresented while African Americans were underrepresented as victims of violent crime.  Furthermore, Whites were overrepresented and African Americans were underrepresented as police officers.”

7.     Race and Ethnicity in Local Television News:  Framing, Story Assignments, and Source Selections by Paula M. Poindexter, Ph.D., Syracuse University, Laura Smith, University of Texas at Austin, and Don Heider, Ph.D., University of Colorado.

“Because television has become the primary source for news, this study examined race and ethnicity in news stories, story assignments, and source selections.  Although African Americans anchored and reported the news in some markets, overall there was segregation in story assignments.”

8.      The Impact of Racial Proximity and Local Television News on Attitudes about Race and Crime, Franklin D. Gillian, Jr. and Nicholas A. Valentino, University of Michigan.

“We investigate the interaction of exposure to stereotypes reinforcing local crime news and neighborhood racial context on attitudes about race and crime.  When exposed to racial stereotypes in the news, white respondents living in white homogeneous neighborhoods endorsed more punitive policies to address crime, expressed more negative stereotypic evaluations of blacks, and felt more distance from blacks as a group.”

9.     Insights into U.S. Racial Hierarchy: Racial Profiling, News Sources and September 11, David Domke, Philip Garland, Andre Billeaudeaux, and John Hutcheson, International Communication Association.

”In recent years, scholars from differing theoretical and methodological perspectives have suggested that communications by societal elites and in media content may play a particularly important role in constructing, shaping, and reinforcing perceptions of race relations, particularly among White Americans.  The press’s selection and framing of language, news, opinion, and perceptions convey and abet a social reality that legitimates the practices and ideas of the dominant social class, in this case the White majority.   According to this view, certain racial ideologies embedded in media representations, descriptions, explanations, and frames are presented as common sense; that is, they are unchallenged, appearing as natural or “grounded in everyday reality,” thereby encouraging their acceptance by audience members.”

10.  African American Representation in National Television Dramas by A. Nama, California State University, Pan African Studies.

“Stereotyping is a practice that has come to be quite familiar within the debate over race and media in American society.  A considerable body of evidence suggests that ethnic minorities are liable to be presented in the media as a problem or threat; they are often featured in association with crime or conflict; and that racial conflicts and disadvantage tend not to be contextualized in terms of their causes.  Such images communicate the inferiority and devaluation of Black people and Black life and reinforce negative ideas, behaviors, attitudes and opinions about racial minorities that ultimately support real relations of racial inequality.”


1.     Beneath the Veneer of Fragmentation:  Television Audience Polarization in a Multichannel World, James G. Webster, International Communications Association.

“An avalanche of programming, much of it targeted to specific segments of the population, has fragmented the audience almost beyond recognition.  These changes affect network profitability, but they can have social consequences as well.  Theorists have raised two related concerns.  One is the fear that nations will be denied a powerful medium of social integration in which all citizens can attend to the nation’s business.  Another even more worrisome prospect is that technology and advertiser driven programming will reconfigure the mass audience to many small, relatively exclusive communities of interest that never encounter dissident voices or different points of view.”

2.     The Messenger Overwhelming the Message:  The Impact of Ideological Cues on Information Acquisition, Counterarguing, and Perceptions of Media Bias, Joel F. Turner, Jr., Florida State University.

“Many Americans perceive ideological bias in television news.  These perceptions of ideological bias can have significant consequences for the ability of viewers to properly process the information presented in the news broadcast.”

3.     Media Representation and Portrayal of African American Athletes, Justin Zackal, West Virginia University.

“The purpose of this study is to look at the importance of media coverage of African American athletes, and to show if White media scrutinize African American athletes more than they do White athletes.  The misrepresentation of African American athletes in the press box could mean an unequal playing field in the arena of media discourse.”

4.     How Race and Gender Influence the Professional Values of Journalists in Milwaukee, Schinika A. Fitch, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“A journalist’s gender and race can have an influence on news values and news judgment.   I became interested in this area of research while working as a minority female journalist in television news as a news producer for eight years.  I went into the business thinking that I could make a difference with respect to news judgments, influences on news values and support for diversity.  It was my experience that my voice was not heard in the newsrooms I worked in, I believe it was because I was a woman, but also because I was a minority.  Those experiences as an African American female journalist led me to want to gain more systematic understanding of how race and gender influenced journalists’ views.  Weaver and Wilhoit conclude that media organizations exert many bureaucratic controls over the production of media content, and these controls limit the influence of individual journalists’ professional orientations.  The individual is filling a role and serving a function within a larger system of gatekeepers.”

5.     Are Murders Equal in the Eyes of the Media?  A Study of Race, Gender, Class and Quality of Coverage, Tobie Blanchard, Louisiana State University.

“A literature review suggested that the media’s coverage of crime news can reveal vital information about media routines and biases.  The main issue in this study is race and the media.  This study concluded that the media give White murder victims more prominent coverage than Black victims and female victim’s better coverage than male victims.  The content analysis demonstrates that those who are most likely to be victimized, Black males receive the least prominent coverage.”

African American Women’s Reception, Influence and Utility of Television Content:  An Exploratory Qualitative Analysis [3-ring binder]

The Manship School of Mass Communications, By Bettye W. Grable, Florida A&M University.

“An inductive analysis of interview narratives found that viewers use TV content like a looking-glass to understand how they are seen by others and where they fit into the larger social arena.  The ubiquitous nature of televised content in American culture has reached unparalleled heights in the 21st century. Television viewing now occurs in many varieties of public and private spaces. Americans are no longer limited to viewing television depictions at home. The unlimited opportunities for viewing television messages behoove citizens, government and media industry managers, designers and producers to understand exactly how these communication forms are utilized by viewers.”

“Perceptions and translations of media messages are compounded when people in contemporary society receive most of their knowledge and information about others repeatedly and indirectly through television transcripts (Rocchio 2000). Vicarious experiences via television may become a part of viewers’ social experiences and serve as a basis for social judgments based on racial attitudes and ethnic stereotypes.”

“The lack of significant input by African-Americans in general and African-American women specifically in programming content may lead such women to develop negative opinions about their own life satisfaction. Minorities rarely serve as on-camera news sources and feature stories virtually always highlight white people and activities in white communities. In stark contrast, media generally depict black women as poor, desperate or dangerous. They are often seen as prostitutes, welfare recipients, second story characters and unwed mothers.”

“In mainstream culture, whites create and control the images of those who are not a part of the mainstream for economic reasons. Such depictions are rarely based on actual contact or interaction with specialized group members.”

“The more race-specific positive cultural cues decoded in media advertising targeted to blacks, the more blacks find the ad appealing.”

“Researchers for more than 50 years have deconstructed mediated transcripts and offered explanations about how African-Americans decode negative and biased TV content about themselves.”

“Continuous widespread TV images that devalue black women decrease the chances that these women will develop a positive self-concept (hooks 1992).”

“African-American households watch more television during daytime and primetime periods than all other U.S. homes across all ages and all groups (Nielsen 29 2005). On average blacks reportedly watched two hours more of primetime television and close to five hours more of daytime television per week than all other groups across all age categories. African-Americans clearly indicate a desire or need to view more television than other groups particularly during the daytime.”

“Young, black women utilize media content to find out what the larger society thinks about them; and to alter the negative impressions they find when they refer to the TV mirror.”

“Televised messages that are appealing to African-Americans are found most often on cable channels. Access to cable is important to these young black women. Informants expressed a strong desire and need for cable.”

“Interpretive Groups Report Contradictions About The Utility Of Televised Content. Interpretive group members simultaneously expressed preferences for programs promoting positive messages about African-Americans; they also reported viewing programs thought of as representative of negative messages about blackness.”

“This finding indicates that there is a desire to see blacks on television in almost any characterizations, even negative ones, versus not seeing blackness represented at all. This suggests a problem of balance about representations of blacks in media.”


1.     Race and Media Coverage of Hurricane Katrina:  Analysis, Implications, and Future Research Questions, Samuel R. Sommers, Evan P. Apfelbaum, Kristin N. Dukes, Negin Toosi, and Elise J. Wang, Tufts University.

“We analyze three aspects of media depictions of Hurricane Katrina, focusing on the relationship between race and coverage of the crisis.  Examination of media language use explores the debate surrounding the terms “refugees” and “evacuees”—as well as descriptions of “looting” versus “finding food”—in light of the predominantly Black demographic of the survivors in New Orleans.  Assessment of the story angle indicates a disproportionate media tendency to associate Blacks with crime and violence, a propensity consistent with exaggerated and inaccurate reports regarding criminal activity in Katrina’s aftermath.  The coverage of Katrina provides a unique, real-world opportunity to consider the relationship between race, popular media, and the general public.”

2.     Rising to the Challenges of a Catastrophe, Havidan Rodriguez, Joseph Trainer, and Enrico L. Quarantelli, The Annals of the American Academy, 2006.

How did people, groups, and organizations in Louisiana react to the impact of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005?  One dramatic picture, at least in New Orleans, was continually presented in the mass media coverage.  The imagery that spread around the world, through the electronic media in particular, was of a state of anarchy; anomie; chaos; disorganization; regression to animal-like behavior; and a total collapse of social control, agencies, and personnel.  This image was conveyed not only by visual but also by verbal means.  For example, one cable news anchor reported, “All kinds of reports of looting, fires, and violence.  Thugs shooting at rescue crews.  Thousands of police and National Guard are on the scene trying to get the situation under control.”  A reported responded to the statement with, “As you so rightly point out, there are so many murders that are taking place” (New York Times 2005).  That same day, a commentator on another cable network said, “People are being raped. People are being murdered. People are being shot.  Police officers are being shot” (New York Times 2005).  In their lead story, a third TV cable network reported, “New Orleans resembled a war zone more than a modern American metropolis” (CNN World News, Sept 1, 2005).  The national TV networks, somewhat less strident, put forth a similar negative image regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  In addition, the electronic media disseminated actual comments by the mayor of New Orleans and its police chief that snipers were shooting at helicopters, tourists, and the police; that rival gangs were engaged in shootouts inside the Superdome and the Convention Center;  and that there were hundreds of dead bodies lying around.  The also quoted the FEMA directory saying that his agency was working “under conditions of urban warfare” (CNN World News, September 1, 2005).  The print media was more restrained in its reporting, although there was considerable variation in the tone of the coverage from on newspaper or magazine to another.  They were also the first, within about 10 days, to undertake systematic investigation of the validity of earlier reports, and generally concluded that many of them were factually incorrect or had seriously distorted what happened (Dwyer and Drew 2005:  Thevenot and Russell 2005).  Overall, the national television networks and especially the 24/7 format of cable television were far more important for the overall negative picture that was conveyed than were local and print media.”

3.     Hurricane Katrina:  The Making of Unworthy Disaster Victims, Gail Garfield, John Jay, College of Criminal Justice.

“News reporters and government officials are usually sympathetic to the plight of victims during natural disasters.  Yet for many stranded victims, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s arrival to New Orleans, this was not necessarily the case.  As a result of media portrayals and decisions of government officials, black disaster victims were seen and treated as unworthy victims.  The analysis draws upon reported news accounts and official decisions to examine how Katrina victims were socially constructed as anti-social and deviant in media coverage, and, in turn, how those portrayals influenced the ways government officials responded to disaster victims as criminals.  The judgments of government officials, influenced by media coverage, retarded humanitarian efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  By prioritizing strategies of law-and-order over humanitarian assistance, the decisions of officials proved fateful for many disaster victims:  thousands of poor black New Orleanians waited to be rescued, evacuated, provided with essential medical assistance, and supplied with food, water, and other necessities.  Those delays increased their misery, desperation, and despairs.  Those delays resulted in the disvaluing of stranded disaster victims’ lives.  And those delays were the cause of the real human tragedy, the social catastrophe that occurred in New Orleans following the storm.  Media coverage and the actions of officials at all levels of government are to blame for the indignities and deplorable conditions experienced by many stranded disaster victims in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.”

4.     Metaphors Matter:  Media Frames, and Their Consequences in Hurricane Katrina, Kathleen Tierney, Christine Bevc and Erica Kuligowski, The Annals of the American Academy, March 2006.

“Messages contained in the mass media and even in official discourse continue to promote ideas that have long been shown to be false in actual empirical research on disasters.”

5.     Black and white in Boston by Kirk A. Johnson, Columbia Journalism Review, May/June 1987.

“Taken as a whole, the evidence suggests that major-media news at Boston’s predominantly black neighborhoods is biased in the direction of commonly held stereotypes about blacks and the poor.  Stories featuring crime and violence dominate, almost to the exclusion of stories that would reflect the true diversity of the black community, so that a typical news consumer might easily come to associate the prevailing negative images with all inner-city black.”

 6.     Katrina’s Southern “Exposure,” the Kanye Race Debate and the Repercussions of Discussion, Erica M. Czaja, Columbia University.

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many scholars and media professionals optimistically claimed that the hurricane “exposed” the racial inequality in our midst, implying that such exposure would increase understanding of structural and historical inequalities, change Americans’ (especially whites’) racial attitudes, and increase public support for redistributive policies aimed at eliminating racial inequality.  However, surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center and political scientists at the University of Chicago in the months following the Katrina disaster indicate otherwise.  To date, the reasons this “exposure hypothesis” fell flat have remained unexplored.  This project aims to build a bridge between studies of public opinion and public discourse in order to answer the following:  How did Americans publicly communicate about race in Katrina’s aftermath?  More broadly, how does contemporary race discourse influence continuing racial inequality in the U.S.?  My results confirm those of survey researchers and suggest that Americans’ discussions of race in Katrina’s aftermath helped to keep racial inequality hidden from public view.  Finally, I explore the possible ways in which racial dialogues could be structured in the future in order to expand Americans’ thinking about race and thereby their support for race-based redistributive policies.”

7.     Where are the Asian and Hispanic Victims of Katrina?  A Metaphor for Invisible Minorities in Contemporary Racial Discourse, Grace Kao, University of Pennsylvania.

“A metaphor for invisible minorities in contemporary racial discourse.”

8.     Unearthing Ignorance – Hurricane Katrina and the Re-Envisioning of the Urban Black Poor, Alford A. Young, Jr., University of Michigan.

“This essay explores some social ramifications of two portraits of low-income African American New Orleanians that proliferated throughout the country since the arrival of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.  The dissemination of these portraits reveals much about America’s cultural understandings of African Americans and urban poverty.  This essay concludes with some reflection on issues concerning the potential for this research to bridge the divide, given the power of the mainstream media outlets to construct and promote certain images of disadvantaged and disenfranchised social groups relative to the social power of academic scholarship to achieve the same end.”

9.     After the Storm – In the Wake of Katrina, Michael C. Dawson, University of Chicago, Lawrence D. Bobo, Stanford University.

“Another disturbing manifestation of the racial divide can be found in the post-storm media coverage.  By and large, the media (and much of the White public) treated as toxic any claim to the effect that (a) there was a racial component involved in determining who was most likely to end up as a victim of the storm and its aftermath, (b) there was a division in public opinion in the aftermath of the storm (or if there was such a division, African American perceptions were outside the bounds of what could be considered reasonable), or (c) the government’s response (at any level) was shaped by the perceived race of the majority of New Orleans residents.”

10.  Visual Representation of the Victims of Hurricane Katrina – A dialectical Approach to Content Analysis and Discourse, William V. Faux, II and Heeman Kim, Valdosta State University.

“This study examines how minority victims of Hurricane Katrina are visually presented.  The authors posit that the victims’ images intersect across multiple contexts, including history, economics, class, and race, among others.  The authors invite both policy makers and researchers to adopt inclusive perspectives when exploring the complexities of human interaction.”


1.     Framing News Stories:  The Role of visual Imagery in Priming Racial Stereotypes, Linus Abraham, University of Minneapolis and Osei Appiah, Ohio State University.

“A few years ago most of the blacks at CNN lodged a protest about the material we were using on the air.  They complained that every time we did a story on poverty, we rolled out “b-roll” showing blacks, and every time we did a story on crime, we rolled out ‘b-roll’ with blacks in it.  We went back and looked at our file tape and, in fact, it was all black.”

Communication, language and discourse provide the structural influences through which stereotyping and racism is maintained.  The discursive reproduction of racism is manifest in various pragmatic forms, but scholars have noted that stereotyping and racial ideology is most crucially reproduced by, or with the help of, the mass media.”

2.     Psychological Reactions to Crime News Portrayals of Black Criminals:  Understanding the Moderating Roles of Prior News Viewing and Stereotype Endorsement, Travis L. Dixon, Communication Monographs, June 2006.

“The current study investigated the extent to which prior news viewing and African American stereotype endorsement might moderate the effects of this racialized crime news exposure.  After exposure to a majority of Black suspects or unidentified suspects in a newscast, African American stereotype endorsers were more likely than stereotype rejecters to support the death penalty.  Furthermore, heavy television news viewers exposed to a majority of Black suspects were more likely than light news viewers to perceive the world as dangerous and view a race-unidentified suspect as culpable for his offense.”

3.     Credibility Perceptions of News Coverage of Ethnic Groups:  The Predictive Roles of Race and News Use, Christopher e. Beaudoin, Indiana University and Esther Thorson, University of Missouri-Columbia.

“The authors examined the roles that race and news use to play in predicting perceived credibility of news coverage of ethnic groups.  Specifically, being Black (or not) played a stronger role than being White (or not) in predicting credibility perceptions of news coverage of Blacks and credibility perceptions of news coverage of Whites.  In addition, Blacks viewed news coverage of Blacks as being less credible than did non-Blacks, and Blacks viewed news coverage of Whites as being more credible than did non-Blacks.”

4.     Television as a Race Relations Barometer – The Gap between Represented and Representative, Andy Rojecki, University of Illinois.

“Living in a segregated society, white Americans learn about African Americans less through personal relationships than through the images the media show them.  The Black Image in the White Mind offers a comprehensive look at the intricate racial patters in the mass media and how they shape the ambivalent attitudes of Whites toward Blacks.

Using the media, especially television, as barometers of race relations, [we] explored the treatment of African Americans on network and local news to uncover the messages sent about race by the entertainment industry-from prime-time dramas and sitcoms to commercials and Hollywood movies.”

5.     Attribute and Responsibility Framing Effects in Television News Coverage of Poverty, Gordon Hannah and Thomas P. Cafferty, University of South Carolina.

“This study looks at how television news may contribute to inaction toward the poor through the attribute and responsibility framing of poverty stories.  Individuals shown presentations depicting the poor as White felt stronger that too little was being spent on poverty programs and were more likely to take a flyer about volunteering with a poverty charity than were  participants shown presentations depicting the poor as Black.  This pattern of results was found for both White and Black participants.”

6.     Playing a Different Race Card:  Examining the Limits of Elite Influence on Perceptions of Racism, Thomas E. Senson, Ohio State University, Kira Sabonmatsu, Rutgers University and Karwood K. McKlerking, Ohio State University.

“There is much debate about the reach and seriousness of racial prejudice today.  We ask:  How do ordinary people come to view events as racist?  Using an experiment, we investigate the effects of elite charges of racism on public perceptions of police conduct.  We test several hypotheses, including discounting, expertise, and in group bias, pertaining to how public stereotypes moderate elite influence.  We find that stereotypes matter, and that Democrats, Republicans, blacks and whites cannot make claims about racism with equal success.”

7.     News Media’s Relationship with Stereotyping:  The Linguistic Intergroup Bias in Response to Crime News, Bradley W. Gorham, Syracuse University.

“This suggests that stereotypical news coverage may subtly influence the interpretations of people make about members of other social groups.”

8.     Does “Special” Mean Young, White and Female?  Deconstructing the Meaning of “Special” in Law and Order:  Special Victims Unit, Sara Britto, Tyey Hughes, Kurt Saltzman, Collin Stroh, Central Washington University.

“Television and other forms of media have long been criticized for their portrayals of gender, race and violent crime and numerous studies have shown moral panics in society are often linked to stereotypical coverage of youth victims of sex crimes (Jenkins, 1992).  Research shows that crime-related television shows often exaggerate white female victimizations, emphasize African American offenders and inflate the proportion of all crime that is violent.”

9.     Black Media Images as Perceived Threat to African American Ethnic Identity:  Coping Responses, Perceived Public Perception, and Attitudes toward Affirmative Action, Yuki Fujioka, Ph.D., Washington State University.

“A self-administered survey of 202 African American respondents examines the relationship among Black images in the media, perceived public perception of the in-group, and endorsement of affirmative action.”


1.     Black Criminal Stereotypes and Racial Profiling, Kelly Welch, Villanova University.

“The racial stereotyping of criminals has been an enduring and unfortunate feature of American culture.  However, following the civil rights movement, the linkage between Blacks and crime was galvanized.  The stereotyping of Blacks as criminals is so pervasive throughout society that “criminal predator” is used as a euphemism for “young Black male.”  This common stereotype has erroneously served as a subtle rational for the unofficial policy and practice of racial profiling by criminal justice practitioners.  This article details the theoretical elements contribution to the development of Black criminal typification to understand how this has been used to justify racial profiling.”

2.     Skin Tone, Crime News, and Social Reality Judgments:  Priming the Stereotype of the Dark and Dangerous Black Criminal, Travis L. Dixon, University of Illinois, Keith B. Maddox, Tufts University.

“A number of recent investigations have concluded that news programs often systematically misrepresent Black Americans as the perpetrators of crime and Whites as the victims of crime.  For example, Dixon and Linz examined the portrayal of Blacks and Whites in crime reports and television newscasts in the Los Angeles area.  Blacks were overrepresented as perpetrators on television news (37%) compared to arrest reports (21%).  Similarly, Blacks were underrepresented as victims on television news (23%) compared to crime reports (28%).  These finding are in stark contrast to the ways in which Whites were portrayed on television news.  Whites were underrepresented as perpetrators on television news (21%) compared to arrest reports (29%), and were overrepresented as victims in news stories (43%) compared to crime reports (13%).  Furthermore, Whites were overrepresented as officers (69%) on news programs compared to employment records.”

3.     The Social Capital of Blacks and Whites:  Differing Effects of the Mass Media in the United States, Christopher E. Beaudoin, Tulane University and Esther Thorson, University of Missouri—Columbia.

“The relationship between news use and social capital is less positive for Blacks than for Whites and the relationship between entertainment TV viewing and social capital is more negative for Blacks than for Whites.”

4.     The Representation of Juvenile Offenders by Race on Los Angeles Area Television News, Travis L. Dixon, University of Illinois, Cristina L. Azocar, San Francisco State University.

“The authors conducted a content analysis of a random sample of local television news programming aired in the Los Angeles area to assess representations of Black, Latino and White juvenile law-breakers.  Results revealed that Black and Latino juveniles were significantly more likely than White juveniles to be portrayed as perpetrators on television news.  Black juveniles were overrepresented as lawbreakers, whereas Latino juveniles were underrepresented as lawbreakers on television news.”

5.     The Television Portrayals of African Americans and Racial Attitudes, Joni G.V. Dubriel, Georgia State University.

“Television often portrays African Americans in unfavorable positions in comparison to Caucasians.  Typically these unfavorable depictions reinforce negative stereotypes associated with African Americans.   Research indicates that television portrayals can influence people’s attitudes toward one another.  A question left unanswered by current research:  are mass-mediated images as influential at reversing or counteracting stereotypes as they are at reinforcing them?”

6.     Stereotypical Portrayals of Emotionality in News Photos, Shelly Rodgers, Missouri School of Journalism, Linda Jean Kenix, University of Canterbury, Esther Thorson, Missouri School of Journalism.

“This research content analyzed the news photographs of a major U.S. daily newspaper to examine the emotional portrayals of individuals in different gender, age, and ethnic subgroups.  Specifically, African Americans were depicted as excited whereas Asian Americans were seen as calm.  The results support the social construction of emotion and suggest that the news media play a role in framing and constructing emotional meaning with regard to different subgroups of American society.”

7.     Reading Race – An Experimental Study of the Effect of Political Advertisement’s Racial Tone on Candidate Perception and Vote Choice, Stephen Manard Caliendo, Avila University, Charlton D. McIlwain, New York University, Aleisha Karjala, University of Oklahoma.

“As part of the Project on Race in Political Advertising, this paper presents the results of an experiment designed to test the effects of various forms of racial messages in televised campaign advertisements.”

8.     Television’s Impact on Foreigners and Children’s Views of African Americans, Vernellia R. Randall, University of Mexico.

“Because television shows created in the United States are broadcast all over the world, foreigners who see the images of African Americans on television may believe that this represents African Americans as a people.    For example, cab drivers in New York City and Washington, D.C., many of who are recent immigrants, are reluctant to pick up African Americans.  Journalists interviewed cab drivers, who talked about Blacks as violent, poor people who would either try to rob them, would want to be taken to dangerous neighborhoods, or would not have the fare.  Given that these men were often born outside the United States, how did they develop these images of African Americans, a people with whom they had little or no personal experience before coming to this country?  The probable answer:  television.  After decades of negative portrayals of African Americans, the perceptions of Blacks as violent, uneducated, lazy people have been put forth for foreigners to consume through their television screens.”

9.     A Near Whitewash:  Racial Representations on the Late Local News, Jeff Smith, Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy, April 1999.

“For years, researchers have known that racial representation in TV news is appalling. (1) Non-White populations are either ignored or demonized as “criminals”.

Since many White people have limited contact with non-White populations their perceptions are often formed by images from media:  films, music, newspapers – but mostly from TV news.  These manufactured perceptions often result in societal support of excessive police force, growing prison populations, draconian immigration policies and cultural parochialism.

“Manufactured perceptions also contribute to individual and institutional racism.  Public perception is therefore crucial to the formation and implementation of public policy. If the news media truly wishes to promote democratic values, they must accurately portray communities and their racial diversity.  The news media must challenge the persuasive racism in our society by exposing racism in all its forms.  In addition, they should take a proactive stance in promoting racial and cultural diversity in newscasts.

The data speaks for itself.  We have a long way to go in this community to heal the wounds of racism.  Until the media commits to more accurate, honest and complete portrayals of diverse races and racial issues in this community, justice can not flourish.”

10.  Media Blackface – “Racial Profiling” in News Reporting, Mikal Muharrar, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, Sept/Oct 1998.

“Racial profiling-the discriminatory practice by police of treating blackness (or brownness) as an indication of possible criminality—has lately been the focus of frequent legal or legislative action, resulting in a significant amount of coverage in the mainstream news media.  The coverage of police racial profiling has been fairly accurate and balanced.  Yet while the mainstream media continues to cover police racial profiling, they have generally failed to acknowledge their own practice of media racial profiling.  And when it has, the result has been more cover-up than coverage.”


1.     A Network of Our Own, Vernellia R. Randall, University of Dayton.

”Perhaps with a concerted effort to take back our media, make some of our own, and cause some trouble for the corporate media who mistreat us, we’ll one day be able to watch, listen or tune in somewhere, smile with pride and say, “Now that’s black.”

2.     “To plead Our Own Cause.” Public Opinion toward Black and Mainstream News Media among African Americans, Timothy Vercellotti, Elton University, Paul R. Brewer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“Studies have looked at the rise of alternative media in light of widespread cynicism about mainstream media.  This article extends this research by examining African Americans’ use of, and opinions toward, mainstream and alternative Black media.  This article explores whether African Americans use Black media in place of mainstream media or consume both in a complementary fashion.  Distrust of governing predicts preferring the Black media’s version, suggesting that faith in the Black media is particularly strong among politically alienated African Americans.”

3.     500 Channels and No Choice:  How Media Companies Support the Status Quo? Russ Maloney, Indiana State University.

“People have media choices like never before—or so it would seem.  On any given day the average person can choose from dozens—if not hundreds—of television channels delivered by cable or satellite; several terrestrial, satellite, or internet radio stations; newspapers in both paper and online form; and other alternative media.  With this type of media bombardment, one would think that the average person could get news from a variety of sources and hear radically different points of view.  However, the multitude of media outlets available does not necessarily mean an increased number of viewpoints. In fact, because of the structure of media ownership, fewer companies control the channels that are available.  As a result, there is potential for a limited number of people to control access to the media, and therefore control which topics are discussed.  The lack of competition leads to duplicated content.  It also makes companies less willing to take chances:  when in doubt, go with the safe bet.  This results in fewer program choices for the public and fewer innovative ideas”

4.     News vs. Entertainment:  How Increasing Media Choice Widens Gaps in Political Knowledge and Turnout, Markus Prior, Princeton University.

“People who like news take advantage of abundant political information to become more knowledgeable and more likely to turn out to vote.  In contrast, people who prefer entertainment abandon the news and become less likely to learn about politics and go to the polls.”

5.     Diversity in Mainstream Newspapers from the Standpoint of Journalists of Color, Anne Johnson, University of North Carolina, Dolores Flamiano, James Madison University.

“The journalists interviewed here suggest that diversity (a) cannot be achieved until racist traditions and patterns in their newspapers’ coverage are addressed, (b) must be seen as a critical and important news value, (c) is only truly achieved when persons of color occupy critical positions of power at the newspaper, and (d) is also a function of the journalists of color ability to represent their communities in the newspapers and to represent their newspapers to the communities.  “As journalists, many of us, black and white, bring preconceived notions to stories.  The myth of objectivity is just that—a myth.” And is much of our media those preconceived notions come from White, middle-class, male writers and editors.”

6.     How the Media Compound Urban Problems, Peter Dreier, Occidental College.

“Major news media coverage of cities reinforces an overwhelmingly negative and misleading view of urban America.  The images from the nightly news, newsweeklies, and on the pages of our daily newspapers are an unrelenting story of social pathology—mounting crime, gangs, drug wars, racial tension, homelessness, teenage pregnancy, AIDS, inadequate schools and slum housing.”

7.     Focus:  African America II Prospectus, Horowitz Associates/Surveys Unlimited.

“The black/African American market is largely urban, with 81% living in urbanized areas.  African Americans in urban areas have consistently been some of the cable industry’s best customers, spending more per month for cable, local and long distance services, and subscribing to premium channels at a high rate than any other ethnic or racial group.  The African American “community” is not monolithic—it is culturally and economically diverse.  In this highly competitive multichannel and increasingly digital environment, understanding the African American market in all its complexity and potential will be essential for successful programming, marketing, acquisition and retention of these valuable customers.”

8.     Media Ownership and Democracy in the Digital Information Age, Mark Cooper, Stanford Law School.

“News organizations’ continued inability to integrate African Americans and other journalists of color into their newsrooms and to more accurately and fairly represent racial and ethnic communities threatens the credibility and viability of daily general-circulation newspapers.”

“Our greatest concern about the industry’s failure to grasp the gravity of its diversity deficit should be the potential harm to society.  The press, by failing to provide more accurate, thorough, and balanced coverage of our increasingly diverse communities, has abdicated its responsibility to foster an exchange of information and perspectives that is necessary in democracy.”

9.     African Americans Missing from the Media, United Press International, 2005.

“A new study finds African American’s are missing from major Sunday morning news programs.  A National Urban League study of NBC’s “Meet the Press”, ABC’s “This Week”, CBS’s “Face the Nation”, Fox’s “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “Late Edition” found only 8 percent of the guests were African American during an 18 month period.  The vast majority of the eight percent were the same three people:  Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and journalist Juan Williams, the Washington Post said.”

10.  Memo to Congressional Black Caucus from Center for Digital Democracy, September 26, 2003.

“The Cable TV industry has a long history of anti-competitive practices.  Hence refusal by major cable companies to give capacity to African American-backed entrepreneurs should be viewed from that perspective.”


The following trade data will illustrate just how valuable and under-served African American cable subscribers are today.

  1. The U.S. African American Market by Packaged Facts, Simmons Market Research, 2003
  2. The Pollo or the Don:  An Overview of Multicultural Media by Brian Wieser, CFA, Magna Global 2004
  3. The African American Market, Simmons Marketing
  4. The Arbitron Black Consumer Study 2005 and 2006
  5. Nielsen Media Research African American Audience 2005 by Jana Steadman
  6. Cable Advertising Bureau (CAB)
  • African American Television Viewing Trends, 2005
  • African American Cable Television Landscape
  • The African American Viewer:  Reaching the Viewers that Count
  • A Different Kind of Viewer
  • A Selection of CAB Articles and Press Releases
  1. Center for Digital Democracy
  • 700 Channels and Nothing On, April 29, 2004
  • The Cable Industry’s Lies about Programming Diversity and A La Carte
  1. Scarborough Research:  Hispanic and African Americans make Headlines as Avid Viewers of Local News, 2005
  2. Arbitron/Scarborough Black Consumer Study 2006
  3. BET’s Revival Mission – Multichannel News 10-08-07

“Coates has spearheaded a campaign, dubbed “Enough is Enough, to protest stereotypical images of African Americans in the Media.”

“Millions of African Americans have been deeply concerned about the negative stereotypes on BET and how it fails to represent the depth and breadth of the African American community,” said Coates.  “The network has failed to respond to the concerns of its audience”

“It’s idiotic to assume that one network is going to be all things for all black people…We’re talking about a very diverse group of people—race being one factory that defines identity,” said Boyd.”

BOOK:  Race, Relevance and Revenue Insights on the African American Marketplace, By Cable Advertising Bureau, Inc.

“Racial insensitivity and lack of objective ethnic insights prevented maximum minority marketing and media development.  Blacks are now fully represented in all income groups, level of educational achievement, and home and small business ownership.  In fact, African American “Boomers” may present the most overlooked brand-building opportunity.”

“African Americans were not included in mainstream media and had to rely on community word-of-mouth to receive vital information.  Clearly, people of color now represent one of the nation’s most important growth opportunities.”

“The lack of marketing messages that are culturally relevant to African Americans creates an opportunity for marketers to step in and make an effort to reach this target effectively.  The majority of African Americans are “living Black,” that is living, worshiping and socializing exclusive with each other, by choice.  In fact, diversity for most African Americans, as with most Americans, occurs primarily in the workplace.   Otherwise, they’re reading Black newspapers and magazines, visiting Black Web sites, listening to Black radio, watching Black programs on cable, and seeing billboard messages primarily in the communities where they live.”

“The below comment from a focus group respondent [“Why can’t they just show us normal?”] encapsulates how many African Americans desire to see themselves in the collective media (internet, television, radio, print, movies).”

“Being “pro-gressive,” as defined by the African American community, is about empowering oneself to be educated and informed and to have a positive self-image that is recognized and respected by America.  This is one of the most powerful needs and desires among African Americans and yet is often overlooked by marketers.”

“Among African Americans, two thirds say that ethnic identity is more important that national identity; they are “Black” first and “American” second.”

“Differences in Black & White Attitudes and Opinions:

I spend less time watching TV B/C Internet     (black) 69   (non-black) 103    (difference) -34

When watching TV, I do other things     (black) 83    (non-black) 102   (difference) -19

Find TV Advertising Interesting   (black) 144     (non-black) 95     (difference) 49

“African American men have made significant advances despite the perpetuation of negative stereotypes.  This group has been growing at three times the rate of the White male population, are younger with a median age of 28.5 compared to 35.3 years for the population and their life expectancy has bee on the rise.  African American men have made tremendous progress in many areas, including educational attainment, work pursuits and income.  The importance of this younger and growing population cannot be overshadowed by negative stereotypes.  Black men are a critical market segment with substantial buying power that continues to increase at a notable rate.”

“In many of these areas (household income, education attained, business ownership, home ownership, and corporate and political leadership), the African American market is growing 2 to 3 times faster than the general market. “

“Mature African Americans; ages 55+ are a rapidly growing market segment.  From 1990 to 2000 this group increased 12.6^ to 5.1 million and is expected to increase 47.1% to 7.5 million, by 2010.  With more discretionary income than other African American age groups, matures are seeking products, services and activities that help them fully enjoy life.  The mature African American is typically an urban home owner and a politically active Democrat.   Socially conscious matures often base their purchasing decisions on the company’s contributions to their communities.  Religion is an important part of their lives, and the church serves as a spiritual and social support and information center.”

“As marketers and their agencies work to become better versed about the major ethnic and cultural groups in the United States, there is an ever looming tendency to succumb to myths and stereotypes.  Almost all stereotypes emerge out of fear, ignorance and misunderstanding of the target.  It is rather easy to subscribe to myths and stereo types if one does not take the time to explore the cultural nuances of a people.”

“The African American consumer marketplace is more viable than ever.  The time has passed when marketers can comfortably afford to ignore the spending power harnessed in this segment.  Whites and Blacks live in different worlds.  Like the story about the emperor’s new clothes, it is something we all know but don’t talk about.”

“Sociologist Charles Gallagher was quoted as saying, “The lens through which people learn about other races is through TV, not human interaction and contact.  We’re getting a lens of racial interaction that is far afield from reality.  Perhaps the best indicator of the racial divide between Americans is the fact that, unlike the earlier days of TV when there were not other options, Blacks and Whites watch entirely different television programs.  Cable television may be changing the rules of the game, however, as mainstream networks vie for African American viewers, they may be setting the stage for a truly transracial milieu.”

“All of these changes in the media environment have complicated the search for answers relating to why Black and White preferences differ so much when it comes to entertainment media.  Perhaps the answer is obvious.  In television, Black American viewers have either been ignored or stereotyped for so long that they tend to respond to programming that appears to stem from their own culture as opposed to that which sublimates it.”

“The cable industry is a unique position vis-à-vis Black viewers in that it is an industry of much greater diversity than the TV networks were at the same stage of development.  Future trends in program preferences of Black viewers are difficult if not impossible to predict, but with help a diverse corps of programming leaders, cable TV networks will have tremendous resources to judge, select and post programming that is better balanced in terms of all forms of multiethnic and multiracial appeal.”


1. Focus:  African American II Prospectus
2. CAB Launches Online Diversity Marketing Center.
3. A Profile of African American population in the US, May 2007, Phoenix Marketing International.
4. CAB Profile of TV One
5. CAB Profile of BET
6. CAB News Releases

CTAM Multicultural Marketing Study

“Cable company executives cite the ability of satellite providers to offer more competitive ethnic programming packages as the biggest barrier [to multicultural marketing].”

Can Media Exposure Help Change People’s Racial/Ethnic Prejudice [3-ring binder]

1.     Stereotypes of and Discrimination against Racial/Ethnic Minorities:  Can Media Exposure Help Change People’s Racial/Ethnic Prejudice for The Better of for the Worse?  Yunying Zhang, Washington State University.

“Can mass media play an important role in reducing people’s racial/ethnic prejudice?  They can, as research has shown.  It is estimated that the “minority” populations will surpass 50% in two decades.  As a result, racial and racial/ethnic issues demand more political, economic, sociocultural, and individual resolutions in this century than ever before.  Of the four minority groups, African Americans appear on American media most frequently. Historically, they bear such labels as laziness, slow-wittedness, having loose moral standards, and a fondness for alcoholic beverages.  They are overrepresented in network TV news and weekly newsmagazines as poor.  In addition, they are also frequently linked to crime in news reports.  These findings indicate that media could play an important role in changing the negative stereotypes people usually hold towards other groups of people.”

2.     The Development of Stereotypes About the Rich and Poor:  Age, Race, and Family Income Differences in Beliefs, Taniesha A. Woods, University of North Carolina, Beth Kurtz-Costes, University of North Carolina and Stephanie J. Rowley, University of Virginia.

“Youth of both races reported that the rich were more competent in academics than the poor:  these beliefs were especially pronounced among Black youth.  Images in the popular media as well as results of research indicate that many Americans hold negative stereotypes about poor people.”

3.     Psychological Reactions to Crime News Portrayals of Black Criminals:  Understanding the Moderating Roles of Prior News viewing and Stereotype Endorsement, Travis L. Dixon, Communication Monographs, June 2006.

“An accumulating body of research has provided evidence that television news commonly depicts African Americans as criminals while portraying Whites as officers and victims.”

Previous research suggests that crime news featuring more African Americans than Whites could lead to the activation and use of a “Black criminal” stereotype.”

4.     News of Disparity:  Content Analysis of News Coverage of African American Healthcare Inequalities in the USA, 1994-2004, Kalahn Alexandra Taylor-Clark, Harvard University, Felicia E. Mebane, University of North Carolina, Gillian K. SteelFisher, Harvard University, Robert J. Blendon, Harvard University.

“Attention to racial healthcare inequalities by experts and politicians come at a time when there is an important tension between public awareness of these issues and their support for federal government responsibility to address racial healthcare inequalities.  Analysis of television news’ effects on public opinion, showed that news can indeed “move” public opinion.”

5.     Raising the Ivory Tower:  the production of knowledge and distrust of medicine among African Americans by J Wasserman, MA Flannery, and JM Clair.

“African American distrust of medicine has consequences for treatment seeking and healthcare behavior.  We argue that ignoring context and producing inaccurate work has real impacts on health and healthcare, particularly for African Americans, and thus, engenders ethical obligations incumbent on disciplines traditionally recognized as purely academic.”


1.         Network News and Racial Beliefs:  Exploring the Connection between National Television News Exposure and Stereotypical Perceptions of African Americans, Travis L. Dixon, Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Urgana-Champaign, Journal of Communication ISSN 0021-9916

“A random survey of non-student adult residents was undertaken to determine whether exposure to network news has a demonstrable effect on racial attitudes and perceptions of African Americans. After controlling for a number of factors, results revealed that exposure to network news depressed estimates of African American income. In addition, network news exposure increased the endorsement of African American stereotypes, particularly the view that African Americans were poor and intimidating, and was positively associated with higher racism scores. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.”

2.         Change and the Illusion of Change:  Evolving Portrayals of Crime News and Blacks in a Major Market, Kirk A. Johnson, University of Mississippi, Travis L. Dixon, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, The Howard Journal of Communications, 2008.

“Content analyses of news about Blacks are numerous, but few compare content over time in mainstream and Black-owned media organizations in a single market. This report analyzes local news items from Boston media during 30-day periods in 1986 and 2001. Although crime news concerning Blacks was less frequent in 2001, it dominated mainstream news about Blacks in both years despite journalists’ pledges to overhaul racial-news coverage after questionable reporting of a racially charged insurance hoax in 1989. Conversely, story selection in New England’s oldest Black newspaper showed dramatic change. These findings are consistent with organizational change theory, and add nuance to Wilson and Gutie´rrez’s (1985) model of the evolution of mainstream coverage of minorities.”

3.         Unconscious Linguistic Referents to Race:  Analysis and Methodological Frameworks, Robert E. Haskell, University of New England, Discourse & Society, Sage Publications, 2009.

“Recent years have seen considerable development in methodological designs for accessing and eliciting unconscious cognitive schemata in response to social stimuli, including race. One design is experimental and involves the priming and automatic activation of schemata. Another design is a specifically developed psycho-linguistic and logicomathematic method for recognizing, analyzing, and validating unconsciously expressed meaning in verbal narratives, referred to as sub-literal (SubLit). Unconscious references to race found in verbal discourse from both laboratory and everyday settings, including the mass media, are illustrated and analyzed utilizing these two complementary methodological designs. Along with suggested procedures, an initial classification scheme for attributions of racial stereotypes and prejudice are presented. Given the historical and current state of race relations both nationally and globally, the paper has significant social implications.”

 4.         Crime News and Racialized Beliefs:  Understanding the Relationship between Local News Viewing and Perceptions of African Americans and Crime, Travis L. Dixon, Department of Speech Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Journal of Communications, 2008.

“A survey of Los Angeles County adults was undertaken to determine whether exposure to the overrepresentation of Blacks as criminals on local news programs, attention to crime news, and news trust predicted perceptions of Blacks and crime. After controlling for a number of factors including the diversity of respondents’ neighborhood and neighborhood crime rate, attention to crime news was positively related to concern about crime. In addition, attention to crime news was positively associated with harsher culpability ratings of a hypothetical race-unidentified suspect and a Black suspect but not a White suspect. Finally, heavier consumption of Blacks’ overrepresentation as criminals on local television news was positively related to the perception of Blacks as violent. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed in light of chronic activation and accessibility of stereotypical constructs.”

5.         Who is the victim here?  The psychological effects of overrepresenting White victims and Black perpetrators on television news, Travis L. Dixon, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Journalism Article, Sage Publications 2008.

“Participants were exposed to a crime story in a 3 (Victim Race – Black, White, or Unidentified) × 3 (Perpetrator Race – Black, White, or Unidentified) × 2 (Stereotype Endorsement – High, Low) factorial design. Afterwards, participants were asked whether they: a) viewed the featured perpetrator as threatening; b) endorsed punitive crime policies; and c) believed a subsequently described suspect was culpable for his offense. Results revealed that stereotype endorsers were more likely than stereotype rejecters to find the suspect most threatening when he was depicted as African American or was left unidentified. In addition, stereotype endorsers were more likely than rejecters to endorse punitive crime policy. Finally, participants were most likely to find a subsequent suspect culpable after viewing a news story containing a White victim and Black perpetrator. The reverse was true when the news story featured a Black perpetrator and Black victim. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.”

6.         Race in the American Mind:  From the Moynihan Report to the Obama Candidacy, Lawrence D. Bobo and Camille Z. Charles, Annals, AAPSS, 621, January 2009.

“In 1965 Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed that the “racist virus in the American blood stream still afflicts us.” The authors assess the tenor of racial attitudes in white and black America across the ensuing four decades. Their core conclusion is paradoxical. On one hand, a massive positive change in social norms regarding race has taken place that dislodged Jim Crow ideology and now calls for integration and equality as the rules that should guide black-white interaction. On the other hand, negative stereotypes of African Americans, cultural (not structural or discrimination-based) accounts of black disadvantage and deep polarization over the appropriate social policy response to racial inequality yield an ongoing legacy of tension and division. The authors link these trends in attitudes to broader changes in society (i.e., racial segregation, job discrimination, rates of intermarriage), patterns of intergroup and interpersonal behavior, and national political dynamics.”

7.         Any Four Black Men Will Do – Rape, Race, and the Ultimate Scapegoat, Tracey Owens Patton, University of Wyoming, Julie Snyder-Yuly, Iowa State University, Journalism of Black Studies, Vol. 37, # 6, July 2007.

“This study examines the impact of false rape charges a former Iowa State University student brought against four Black males. Using textual analysis coupled with Barthes’s theory of myth, the authors critically examine how the story took hold and the communicative impact of the falsified claims of rape that affected African American men, rape survivors, and women. Using previous scholarship on rape and race (macrocontext), the authors test the scholarly conclusions on the myth of rape and race in a microcontext case study. Thus, they are interested in how the false accusation revived the myth and how Iowa State University and the local community, the regional media, and the campus police perpetuated the myth. The authors argue that racism and sexism are allowed to continue in this situation because of the preservation of White hegemonic patriarchal power. This preservation of White patriarchal hegemony is echoed in macrocontext-level conclusions.”

8.         News on the Net – Credibility, Selective Exposure, and Racial Prejudice, Debra Burns Melican, University of Michigan, Travis L. Dixon, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Communication Research, Volume 35, Number 2, April 2008.

“An online survey was conducted to assess the perception of credibility of various forms of news media, including Internet news sites associated with traditional forms of media and nontraditional Internet news sites. The survey also explored a possible link between news media credibility and scores on a modern racism scale. This study found that people held differential perceptions of Internet news credibility. Specifically, nontraditional Internet sources were perceived as far less credible than all other news sources. After controlling for a number of factors, the results suggest that those who view nontraditional Internet news sources as more credible than traditional media also score higher on a modern racism scale. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed, with a focus on the Internet as a safe haven for divergent, even racist, beliefs.”

9.         African Americans’ Television Activity:  Is it related to perceptions of outgroup vitality?  Jessica R. Abrahams, Department of Communication Studies, California State University, Long Beach, The Howard Journal of Communications, 19:1-17, 2008.

“In a continued attempt to uncover the connection between intergroup relations and mass media, the author explores African Americans’ television activity. Using a uses and gratifications perspective, this investigation examines the reasons African

Americans select and avoid television and whether those reasons predict their perceptions of Caucasians. Results indicate that selecting television for entertainment purposes was the most important gratification sought by participants. Selecting television out of habit or to relieve boredom predicted perceptions of Caucasian vitality and the relationship was moderated by involvement while viewing television.”

10.      Perceptions of Leadership and Challenge of Obama’s Blackness, Charlton D. McIlwain, New York University, Journal of Black Studies, Volume 38, Number 1, September 2007.

“This article analyzes the relationship between race and perceptions of leadership as a way of assessing the presidential prospects of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Analysis of the 1988 Super Tuesday National Election Studies data demonstrates that for White voters, perceptions of leadership serve as a proxy for racial evaluations of an African American candidate. A content analysis of newspaper coverage during the first 3 months of Obama’s candidacy was conducted and demonstrates that questions of leadership and race are prominently featured in media reporting about Obama.”


The following books support the demand for black television news media.  The books discuss how mainstream media news has “marginalized” and “ghettoized” black Americans and how the lack of credible news and information has impacted Black communities.

1. Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America–and What We Can Do About It (Paperback) by Juan Williams (Author)

2.  The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914 (Paperback)
by George M. Fredrickson (Author)

3.  White News: Why Local News Programs Don’t Cover People of Color (Lea’s Communication) (Paperback)
by Don Heider (Author)

4.  Racism, Sexism, and the Media: The Rise of Class Communication in Multicultural America (Hardcover) by Clint C., II Wilson (Author), Felix Gutierrez (Author), Lena M. Chao (Author)

5.  Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader (Paperback)
by Gail Dines (Editor), Jean M. (McMahon) Humez (Editor)

6.   Race, Media, and the Crisis of Civil Society: From Watts to Rodney King (Cambridge Cultural Social Studies) (Paperback)
by Ronald N. Jacobs (Author)

7.   The Mass Media and the Dynamics of American Racial Attitudes (Paperback) by Paul M. Kellstedt (Author)

8.   Living Color: Race and Television in the United States (Console-ing Passions) (Paperback) by Sasha Torres (Editor), Sasha Torres (Editor)

9.   Facing Difference: Race, Gender, and Mass Media (Journalism and Communication for a New Century (Paperback) by Shirley Biagi (Author), Marilyn Kern-Foxworth(Author)

10. White Victims, Black Villains: Gender, Race, and Crime News in US Culture (Paperback) by Carol Stabile (Author)

11.  Media Diversity – Economics, Ownership and the FCC (Paperback) by Mara Einstein

12.  The Problem of the Media (Paperback) by Robert W. McChesney

13.  The New Media Monopoly (Paperback) by Ben H. Bagdaikian

Summary of Academic Studies, Industry Research, Books, Essays and Articles (PDF, 105 Kb)

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