Baylor Media Expert Shares Thoughts Re: Charges of Biased Media Coverage of Minorities2018-07-26
Early this week, 18-year-old Nia Wilson was stabbed to death on a platform while transferring trains in Oakland, California. Authorities said the attack was unprovoked. Media coverage of Wilson's death included photos from her social media accounts. One California television station chose to share a photo of Wilson, who was African American, holding what appeared to be a gun. The decision to run that particular photo sparked outrage, with many saying the photo added to a trend of a biased media portrayal of minorities.
Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., professor of journalism, public relations and new media at Baylor University, is an expert on mass media representations of women, minorities and other underrepresented groups.
"This incident brings back memories of the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Media outlets used various photos to portray them as menacing. It also brings to mind the hashtag: #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, which asks the question: 'If they gunned me down, what photo would media use?'" Moody Ramirez said.
"Historically, media outlets have used such photos to: 1) frame the individuals a certain way, 2) add interest to the story, 3) stir up conflict. Awareness that this is happening is the best way to stop it in the future. Black Twitter has taken on this cause. In the 'clap back' culture of Black Twitter, news outlets are very likely to get called out for such behavior."
Moody-Ramirez is the co-author of the new book "From Blackface to Black Twitter: Reflections on Black Humor, Race, Politics, & Gender." In 2013, she co-authored "The Obamas and Mass Media: Race, Gender, Religion, and Politics." She also authored "Black and Mainstream Press’ Framing of Racial Profiling: A Historical Perspective."