Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mainstream media's #BlackLivesMatter coverage

Alyssa King

The raw coverage of the Vietnam War drastically changed the views of those who were still at home in the United States. The result? Mass protest.

In 1968 the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders was to determine the cause for the recent riots. What they found was an unjust media that was producing insufficient coverage of African Americans.

Today the U.S. media is notorious for covering and reporting for one audience. Minorities lack presence in news rooms across the country. News coverage cannot be improved to the level of excellence that is necessary without diverse news rooms. The Washington Post states that newsroom diversity is imperative to journalism.

Wesley Lowery, who's Twitter description reads, "seek truth :: give voice to the voiceless :: shine light in the darkness :: other considerations are of minor importance,"currently writes for the Washington Post. He has closely followed both the violence and riots for the past year.

Despite his efforts, a 2014 study of the American Press Institution determined that 25 percent of African Americans believe that the media accurately portrays their communities. The same study concluded that only 33 percent of Hispanics could claim media accuracy concerning their communities. If more than half of  prominent minorities, and a sobering 75 percent of African Americans do not trust the media, they are probably not watching it. If 75 percent of white Americans did not trust the media, there would be a change in coverage.

Today's coverage of police violence is not the clear cut coverage that we received during Vietnam. Yet riots have moved through the country like wildfire since the death of Michael Brown in 2014. The violence is not new- who's covering it is.

Social media is becoming more and more prevalent with time. More and more people have cell phones. Citizen journalism is on the rise. If the media will not accurately cover or acknowledge police violence, the people will.

Deray Mckesson, an African American civil rights activist, has been following (literally and figuratively) and covering the violence and stories since the summer of 2014. Mckesson, most recognizable by his signature blue vest, aids the Black Lives Matter movement by organizing and covering protests, engaging in research and sharing his findings. He live tweets often and retweets the stories and feelings of those who are affected. These people are often the minorities that are not seen prominently in mainstream media news rooms. He remains unafraid in calling out comments and coverage that he does not believe to be correct. Mckesson is producing news using social media as a platform.

Citizens should not have to beg journalists to "tell the truth". A lack of diversity in journalism means a narrowed set of views covering breaking events. When entire groups of people are left out of coverage, journalism has a detrimental problem.

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