Course Number: JOUR-UA 503.004
Day & Time: Wed 10:00am-12:30pm
Location: 20 Cooper Square, room 654
Instructor: Pamela Newkirk
It has been 40 years since President Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders released its findings on the civil unrest that erupted in urban areas across the nation. The panel, commonly referred to as the Kerner Commission, concluded that we are living in two nations, “black, white, separate and unequal,” and devoted an entire chapter to the impact the media had on the nation’s race relations. “We believe that the media have thus far failed to report adequately on the causes and consequences of civil disorders and the underlying problems of race relations,” the report said. It added: “The media report and write from the standpoint of a white man’s world. The ills of the ghetto, the difficulties of life there, the Negro’s burning sense of grievance, are seldom conveyed.”
The report criticized as “shockingly backward” the industry’s failure to hire, train and promote African Americans. At the time, fewer than five percent of the newsroom jobs in the United States were held by African Americans. Today, despite the progress that’s been made in the hiring and coverage of African Americans and other so-called minorities, many critics say that the Kerner Report findings continue to resonate today. With the report as a backdrop, we will examine the portrayals of racial and ethnic minorities in the media, paying particular attention to African Americans – the subject of the Kerner Report – but also others, including Latinos, Asians, women, and gays and lesbians.