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Friday, July 15, 2016

The World and the Media: Revealing Facts from a Journalist

The United States of America: a "melting pot."  Quite an ironic title these days if you ask me.  America is on the greatest of struggle buses.  The world in general is suffering right now, and we, as a country, watch the terrors that appear on our TVs with open eyes...and open mouths.

As an aspiring journalist, I am a part of the wide range of networks that bring you the breaking stories that make your heart smile or break into a million pieces. I am one of many who pick which stories they would like to cover and how much of it will reach your handheld devices within twenty-four hours. But it's important for you as a reader (and most likely not a journalist) to take a close look at my last sentence.  We writers pick which stories will make the front page.  We pick which one will land millions of views, which will be a small article on page 40, or quite possibly won't make the issue at all.  It is part of our jobs to figure out which stories will intrigue the general public, and put them in order from most to least interesting.  It makes sense for us (journalists and those in the media) to do that. It boosts ratings and keeps out the more insignificant stories that don't matter quite as much.  But at the same time that it keeps the small, less important stories from boring you, it also keeps out many stories that are just as important, but are things you may not want to hear. 

In the recent week, it is impossible for anyone to get on social media without seeing the #BlackLivesMatter.  This movement is growing at a constant rate, and frankly, I could not support it more. 

In addition to the hashtag, I am also seeing those who say, "well, all lives matter."  And they aren't wrong.  All lives do matter.  From a baby at the moment of conception to the oldest person on the planet, to the palest of the pales or the darkest of the darks, for all the sexual orientations, all the religions of the world, all the males and the females: all lives matter.  However, that is not the point of movements like these.  Just as I pointed out in my post on feminism, it isn't about putting another group down.  It isn't saying that an African American life is more precious and valuable than the Caucasian sitting next to them.  It is about the racial problem America is still facing.  It is about whites statistically being treated better than their black counterparts.  It is about fighting for equality, because we are far from there. 

Now back to how the media chooses what you see, I would like to take this opportunity to point out a very important fact when it comes to coverage and race.  Violence and tragedy takes place in absolutely every racial group. Just because it is not in the headlines does not mean that it is not happening.  Crazy people are everywhere, and that has nothing to do with the color of their skin. Our culture is becoming one full of making overgeneralized, sweeping statements. One bad egg doesn't mean the whole carton is bad just as one radical in a group doesn't make an entire group of people radical.  The fact of the matter is, though it breaks my heart to say this, statistically in this country, violence coverage for the black community is substantially higher than it is for the whites.  

Let me give you a couple unfortunate, but true, scenarios.
The first is someone telling a story about an event in the general public, and while explaining what occurred, mentioning the race of one of the people in the story.  In this case, the race of the person is irrelevant to the plot other than to add more descriptive details.  Everyday people do this, but it is extremely important to understand that journalists do also.  Small things like that add to the overall stereotyping, but it is so subtle that it is almost unnoticeable unless you are actively looking for it.  How about we make a new rule that unless you are writing a book describing the character to add a visual for the reader or unless the race is the subject of the story, we stop mentioning the race.  What does it matter?  So cut it out. 
Here is the second scenario: There is a white man who is planning a burglary walking around a house in a neighborhood while an innocent black man walks on the sidewalk.  It is much more likely for the black man to be covered and to be seen as suspicious simply because of his color, even though the white man is the one doing something wrong.  As much as I hate to say it, racial profiling is a real problem our country is facing.  It's not an opinion, it is a fact. The fight isn't over.  

And this is why I support movements such as "Black Lives Matter."  We have to talk about it because it is a problem. We have to take a stand and educate ourselves so we can help each other reach equality instead of making ignorant comments because we don't know the entire story due to the media. We aren't talking about other races because there's not as big of a fight or a fight at all to make it worth bringing up.  Every life matters, but black lives are fighting to end the same fight Martin Luther King Jr. did in his day because they haven't achieved what other racial groups have. So instead of continuing the "well, all lives matter" talk, let's be supportive.

Love each other!

Love Always,
Bree x