Giving Compass' Take:
- Beth Schwartzapfel explains that news outlets are less likely to report on the murder of Black victims and are less likely to portray them as complex human beings.
- What role can you play in supporting equitable news coverage of murder victims?
- Learn how to invest in Black lives.
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Mainstream media is less likely to cover Black homicide victims and less likely to portray them as complex human beings, a new study shows.
When Raymond Griffin was shot and killed on a Chicago porch in 2016, he was a father to two children, an uncle, a cousin whose personality was “funny and crazy,” according to an online memorial. But you’d never know that from the news coverage his death received.
“Raymond D. Griffin, 30, was shot in the neck and taken to Stroger Hospital, where he died at 6:30 p.m.,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported in November 2016. “He lived on the same block where the shooting happened.”
In a newly published study, a group of sociology researchers gathered all the mainstream print and digital news reports about all the murders in Chicago during 2016, and found that Griffin’s treatment fit a pattern: Homicides in predominantly Black neighborhoods received less coverage than those in predominantly White neighborhoods, and the coverage of murders in Black areas was less likely to portray victims as complex human beings.
It’s reflective, the authors say, of a sense that violence is routine and expected in certain areas, and tragic and newsworthy in others. And the lopsided coverage contributes to a feedback loop, “reinforcing this idea that certain neighborhoods are inherently dangerous and unsafe, and others are made up of cousins and sons and mothers,” said Shannon Morrissey, a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Chicago and one of the paper’s authors.
Read the full article about racial bias in homicide reporting by Beth Schwartzapfel at The Marshall Project.