Impact of Race on Media Coverage of Police Shootings
WASHINGTON, D.C. — How much of a factor was race in the police shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri? That was one of the many questions talked about in the national town hall we invited you to watch on our website Tuesday night. Another Hot topic - How the national media covers stories of alleged police brutality.
Our national correspondent Kristine Frazao looks at why some cases are covered for weeks while others are barely mentioned.Is there a double standard? Why do media outlets double down on some stories like the one in Ferguson, Missouri, while ignoring similar stories of alleged police brutality in other parts of the country? "They create these images, they reinforce these images and they don't do it necessarily because they care," said political insider, Armstrong Williams. Armstrong Williams says the people, the executives, at national news outlets ultimately make decisions about what gets covered. "The reality is in mainstream media, the executive suite looks just like the Ferguson Police Department. So, one of the problems is when you have media coverage is how you cover it and what are the perspectives," said author, Roland Martin. But if viewers sat glued to their seats to watch events unfold in Ferguson, why wouldn't they do the same for a police shooting of a unarmed man in any other city, regardless of race?
The national media largely ignored that a minority police officer in Utah shot and killed Dylan Taylor, an unarmed 20 year old man. Who, reportedly, was half white -half latino. Police will only say the officer was "non-white."That came just days after Darren Wilson, a white officer, in Ferguson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. What made the difference? "The demographics were not the same. This is not a community where there has been a long held perception by the majority that they are being policed or occupied by the police force," said Professor John Watson of American University. Journalism professor John Watson believes the media would cover more police shootings, including the one in utah, if the racial profile matched Ferguson - a white police officer and a black teenager.