Baltimore News Coverage

Post by Angela Ufheil

Freddie Gray was 25 years old when he died from a spinal injury while in police custody. Activists took to the streets to protest what appeared to be yet another case of police brutality against an African-American man. Unfortunately, the point of those protests was obscured when several protesters became violent, and the “riots” became the focus of the story.

baltimore

Activists march down historic US Route 1 to protest Freddie Gray’s death. Photo courtesy of Stephen Melkisethian.

Many news outlets focused on the violent behavior, especially highlighting terrifying videos. But others, including late night talk show host Larry Wilmore, criticized the way the media were covering the issue.

For many, the most poignant critique came from MSNBC host Chris Hayes,  who created this satirical newscast coverage of a riot involving white people after a surfing competition.

Hayes imitates many of the questions other news outlets posed to the African-American community: “The white community needs to ask itself ‘How are we going to deal with this problem?'” and “How long must we wait for the white community to get its act together?”

After the satirical news report, Hayes asks viewers to consider why we so casually make broad generalizations about black individuals, but feel ridiculous doing the same for white individuals. As future journalists, I think we need to be asking this question as well.

What strategies can we use to report on these issues in an unbiased way? Do we think this satirical approach was the best way? How should we determine what the true focus of a story should be? And, how can we return our focus to that true issue?

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3 responses to “Baltimore News Coverage

  1. I think the satirical approach is valid because it shows how ridiculous some coverage can be to consumers who may take all of their news at face value. At the same time, it’s important to pair that with more serious–yet fair–coverage. It’s so easy to get caught up in the riots because it’s “what people want to see.” As journalists, we need to focus on the whole story, not just the action that’ll get us hits and views.

    • bethlevalley

      I completely agree with this. Especially with internet-based journalism, so many publications are headed to content that will get the most views. Articles should tell both sides of the story and not just one part of it. Informing the public of the entire story should be a journalist’s top priority, no matter the format of the article.

    • I agree with this also. While the satirical approach made an important point, the serious coverage is important as well by means of respecting the seriousness of the event.

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