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.
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?