Every day there are ethical decisions that impact the hundreds or thousands of people who watch, read, listen, and/or click on a media source. The foundation for making the right decision starts with ethics classes in college. Students in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism will use this blog to reflect on ethical questions in the media today.
Monday, November 27, 2017
Covering White Supremacy
White men in Charlottesville were outraged to find photos of themselves going viral on the internet
People in America are often scared. Scared of whatever they're told from the media that they listen to each and every single day. But what is it that they are told from the media? When regarding attacks, mostly, they're told about "Islamic terrorist attacks". Whenever hearing about some sort of mass killing, most people associate it with Islamic terrorism in one way or another. It is just what all media outlets cover. Specific jobs are even assessed to people on covering these sorts of attacks. But one thing that has been a major epidemic in recent years that has been overlooked from the media, white supremacy.
White supremacy has been an issue recently (well, forever) that nobody ever seems to be talking about. Which is crazy to believe, because ever since the attack on 9/11, 47 percent of attacks have been from right-wing extremists, compared to Islamic terrorism.
106 people have died from these white supremacy attacks, yet for some reason, nobody is scared of THESE extremists.
So, I think the answer is obvious here, we need to start creating a buzz about white supremacy. Media outlets need to make sure these events and attacks are being covered thoroughly and correctly. The public has to be informed with who is behind these attacks and the motive involved. With how easy this answer is, how we cover this sort of epidemic is not so easy.
Bias has to be thrown out of the window immediately. If a reader is able to decipher which political affiliation the writer is while reading the piece covering a racial attack, the article becomes an opinion piece, which means the reporter didn't do their job covering the event as an ethical journalist. Rather than bringing strictly politics into the conversation after an attack, simply give the facts of who, what, when and where. Political influence may be behind the motive of an attack yes, but rather than creating an all out war pitting one side with another, stating the facts of the attack (even including the influence), will create a more informational piece that readers will be able to learn about and be informed.
There are many other things that could be said about how to cover such an event, but what is more important is what covering these events will do in the future.
People will get the facts. People will start to realize that not all terrorism comes from those with Muslim descent. People will soon realize that many of our problems root from hatred within our own Country, which is something that nobody has really believed in the past. Statistics show the difference of fear across party lines when regarding this topic, and the results are not so hard to believe.
So the most important thing media outlets can do is begin to make this a priority in the news. If they can cover these events with the same kind of urgency they do when regarding Islamic terrorism, people will begin to see what kind of harmful impact white supremacy has within our country. If we keep the same kind of priority when speaking of attacks, with Islamic terrorism being the number one covered event, nothing will ever change.
At the same time, white supremacy doesn't just need to be covered, it needs to be covered correctly.