Summary: This video is put together by the Maynard Institute, which is "dedicated to helping the news media accurately portray all segments of society, particularly those often overlooked, such as communities of color." The beginning of the video shows a real Chicago CBS news segment that covers the shooting of two teenagers, which was witnessed by several children, including a 4-year old. The commentator describes the "disturbing reaction" by the 4-year old boy, who is shown saying that “I’m not scared of nothing.” When the reporter asks him if he will stay away from guns, the boy responds: “I’m going to have me a gun!” The segment ends with Anchor Steve Bartelstein saying, “that is scary indeed.” The issue with this clip is what was omitted from the story. In the actual interview with the 4-year old boy, the reporter next asks “Why do you want to have [the gun]?” The boy states “I'm going to be the police!” and the reported responds “Okay then you can have one." Subsequent content from the video, and this Maynard Institute analysis, outline some of the problems with the edit, including its portrayal of African American boys in a stereotypical manner. While it is unclear why this particular video was edited in this way (the news station removed the story once the problem was identified), the reality is that such editing decisions frequently occur and continue reproducing stereotypes. Indeed, "studies of media content consistently find that black criminal suspects are portrayed more frequently and more menacingly than white suspects in television news stories of violent crime" (Peffley et al 1996). It could be a result from a news editor's confirmation bias, where an individual looked for content in the video that confirmed his expectations, thereby using that footage and eliminating the (real) footage that would have led to an alternative framing. It might also derive from the economic drive for media to present controversial news that they believe viewers will be more interested in watching (thereby consuming more advertisements). For example, research shows that viewers find crime news stories more memorable when the perpetrator is dark-skinned male. What is the impact of this on race relations? Experimental studies show that such "even a brief visual image of an African American male suspect in a televised crime story was capable of activating racial stereotypes, which in turn heavily biased whites’ evaluations of the suspect along racial lines" (Peffley et al 1996). Such race-related TV news stories also lead to linguistic intergroup bias, where "people use more abstract language to describe stereotype-congruent behaviors, particularly when that person is a member of an out-group" (Gorham 2006). Thanks to Logan Webster for suggesting this video.
Submitted By: Paul Dean