Media Bias and Black Communities

Posted on September 14th, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Media Advisory
Evan Serpick, Open Society Institute-Baltimore

As part of the Open Society Institute-Baltimore series “Talking About Race,” author and civil rights leader Rashad Robinson and journalist Stacey Patton will dissect the ways that television, newspaper and radio news can shape stories in ways that distort the reality of black lives—and reinforce negative stereotypes.

7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015

Enoch Pratt Free Library
Wheeler Auditorium
400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore

In the wake of the killing of Freddie Gray and the subsequent uprising, many media outlets focused on tired stereotypes about black criminality rather than the years of oppression that sparked the protests.

In an article in The Root, an online news and commentary site, author Rashad Robinson detailed just after the uprising how Fox News anchors—and even Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in a news conference—described the city as being under siege by “thugs.”

“CNN wondered repeatedly why there weren’t more police on the ground,” Robinson wrote. “Politicians, commentators and the Baltimore Police Department strongly and repeatedly urged ‘calm’ and have since called the protests ‘counterproductive,’ despite the pain, disrespect and injustice this community has been forced to endure.”

To tackle the issue of media bias and black communities, OSI-Baltimore has invited Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange, and Stacey Patton, reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education, to talk about how dehumanizing media coverage can reinforce bias and negatively impact black communities.

Robinson and Patton will speak as a part of OSI’s much-lauded Talking About Race series.

RashadRobinsonRashad Robinson serves as executive director of ColorOfChange, the nation’s largest online civil rights organization. Since 2005, ColorOfChange has been a leading force in holding government and corporations accountable to black people and advancing visionary solutions for building a just society. From fighting for justice for Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Renisha McBride and Trayvon Martin, to battling attempts to suppress the black vote and helping shape the successful strategy in the fight to protect a free and open Internet, ColorOfChange has been at the forefront of the most critical civil rights issues of this century.

StaceyPattonStacey Patton is a reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her coverage areas include adjuncts, career outcomes for Ph.D.’s, diversity among doctoral students in science, technology, engineering, and math fields, and students navigating the graduate-school experience. Before joining The Chronicle, Patton was a senior editor and writer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Patton has also reported for The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun, and has contributed articles and editorials to The New York Times, Newsday, and the NAACP’s magazine, Crisis.

OSI-Baltimore’s “Talking About Race” series is a free and open-to-the-public forum, co-sponsored by the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The series addresses race from different perspectives and explores why it is important to discuss the topic openly and intelligently.


About OSI-Baltimore:

As the only field office for the Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs, Open Society Institute-Baltimore focuses on the root causes of three intertwined problems in our city and state: drug addiction, an overreliance on incarceration and obstacles that keep youth from succeeding both inside and outside the classroom. We also support a growing corps of social entrepreneurs committed to underserved populations in Baltimore. Before we make a single grant, we analyze the root causes of a problem and examine research and innovative practices aimed at tackling the problem. Because we aim for lasting, sustainable solutions, we engage public and private partners from the start. It is only then, with a clear picture of the problem, that we begin to focus our approach and diligently craft a road map for change.