Race Wars in the Media

It is commonly researched and held that the media plays a huge role in how we perceive race. It is particularly an issue in how the media has skewed our understanding of race and crime together.

“Television news programs and newspapers over-represent racial minorities as crime suspects and whites as crime victims. Black and Latino suspects are also more likely than whites to be presented in a non-individualized and threatening way – unnamed and in police custody. . . .” – Sentencing Project

Bill Leak’s racist cartoon, published in The Australian, widely condemned by leaders and commentators. Source: https://newmatilda.com/2016/08/04/artistic-arse-the-great-racist-works-of-cartoonist-bill-leak/

While a significant amount of research stems from this issue in the United States, it is obvious how this issue is just as prevalent in Australia’s modern day society. While many argue that the Australian media has improved from the days of Black Face on Hey Hey It’s Saturday, by looking into recent cases such as Bill Leak’s racist cartoons featured in the Australia, it is evident that there are still major issues in how the Australian media skews the image and perspective of races within the country and how the media takes accountability for it.

“The fact that authorities withheld ex-Stanford student and convicted sex offender Brock Turner’s mug shot for 16 months is being pegged as an illustration of the racial disparities within America’s criminal justice system.” Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/brock-turner-mugshot-stanford-rape-case-images-sex-assault-1.3629147

The way the media establishes these perceptions are based on a long history of how we understand race and the embedded meanings attached to the dominant and subordinate categories, as outlined by The Critical Media Project:




  • civilized
  • modern
  • rational
  • order
  • center
  • stability
  • unmarked
  • self
  • white
  • superior
  • majority
  • citizen
  • insider
  • primitive
  • backward
  • irrational
  • chaos
  • margin
  • violence
  • marked
  • other
  • non-white
  • inferior
  • minority
  • illegal
  • outsider

By understanding where these perceptions come from in our history and where and how these play out in our media, as budding journalists we can enhance our effort to recognise and hold ourselves accountable for these perceptions in the media and work towards steering away from these ideas and these two categories and how they relate to crime.


Feature image source: http://sites.psu.edu/mediaracegenderadriana/2015/09/24/weekly-roundup-film-tv-stereotypes-and-miss-representation/



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