Illustration by Jen Kelly

Let’s Make Media Coverage Equal, Always

Emphasizing equity and integrity in the media February and beyond
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Emphasizing equity and integrity in the media February and beyond

Humboldt State University celebrates Black Liberation Month, which promotes black excellence and achievement, every February.

People of color are often covered by the media for achievement in athletics and entertainment, but rarely for academia, volunteer work or simple successes unless they’re a trailblazer in their field. More often than not, Blacks face the most discrimination in media.

At HSU, Black Liberation month emphasizes the great achievements and progress in the Black community—but these often fall out of the public eye once February is over. This is a failure—the celebration of the Black community should extend through the year and into perpetuity. At The Lumberjack, we acknowledge the lack of representation blighting the mainstream media and our own newsroom. We strive to break the toxic cycle of misinformation and misinterpretation and promote the achievements of the Black community at HSU.

“Blacks represent 37 percent of criminals shown in the news, but constitute 26 percent of those arrested on criminal charges. In contrast, news media portray whites as criminals 28 percent of the time, when FBI crime reports show they make up 77 percent of crime suspects.”

Travis L. Dixon

Modern media organizations filter the truths of the world, a behavior that has a significant impact on their audience. The way we absorb news depends on the way it’s delivered. Emphasizing equity and integrity in the media February and beyond

The study, “A Dangerous Distortion of our Families,” by Travis L. Dixon, Ph.D from the University of Illinois, looked into media coverage from local and national media outlets and found they often warped the reality of Black families to fit the narrative of the big screen.

“Blacks represent 37 percent of criminals shown in the news, but constitute 26 percent of those arrested on criminal charges,” Dixon wrote. “In contrast, news media portray whites as criminals 28 percent of the time, when FBI crime reports show they make up 77 percent of crime suspects.”

The study, sponsored by The Washington Post, found that at best, media outlets promoted racially biased portrayals and myths that pathologize black families and idealize white families with respect to poverty and crime.

At worst, the study found that media outlets amplified those inaccurate depictions for political and financial gain. They said such reporting reinforces debunked narratives that justify police brutality or promote economic policies that hurt not just Black families, but all families.

Throughout February, throughout the year, into the next decade and into forever, we shall strive to accurately report on and represent the lives and achievements of the Black community at HSU. We commit ourselves to journalistic accuracy and integrity. We commit ourselves to the celebration of the liberation of our oppressed communities and we commit to support them on their path to self-realization.

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