U.S. News Coverage of Racial Minorities: A Sourcebook, 1934-1996

Article excerpt

Keever, Beverly Ann Deepe, Carolyn Martindale, and Mary Ann Weston, eds. U.S. News Coverage of Racial Minorities: A Sourcebook, 19341996. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997. 382 pp. $85.

This book is a compilation of research on news coverage of Native, African, Hispanic, and Asian Americans, as well as Pacific Islanders, from 1934 to 1996. But the editors go back to the 1600s to the first newspaper published in colonial America, Publick Occurrences both Forreign and Domestick, to find the prototype of newspapers published in the twentieth century.

They point out that the 1690s journalist was performing the surveillance function when looking at Native Americans, calling them barbarous. This surveillance was later extended to other racial minority groups. And, while this way of looking at those who are different from the dominant culture appeared in print in 1690, this view was found to still exist in the 1990s mass media.

This compilation of studies tells us that mass communication history is fraught with the problem that vexes humankind today: the race question. Although journalists are supposed to be dispassionate observers of the events of the day, it is clear from the research presented here that they have not done their jobs dispassionately. The research shows they have viewed the world through the prism of skin color. In short, the mass media have presented a white, ethnocentric point of view.

This way of viewing things found the mass media adhering to the government line at numerous critical junctures where people of color were involved. …