World White News Coverage

[Editor's note: I made a change. I originally wrote that the study we did in my class was on KRON 4 it's actually on KPIX another local Bay Area TV news station.]

I just got out of my Media and Politics class (Political Science 464 and also listed under Journalism 464) at San Francisco State University and let me just say I'm fuming right now. I'm doing this post right now so I can remember everything that happened.

Basically our professor brought in his daughter who works for KRON 4 News, a local news station out of the San Francisco Bay Area. In an Ethnic Diversity and U.S. Journalism class I did last year we did a study on KPIX and studied how they used "experts" in the news. We basically found out that the "experts" used were overwhelmingly white and even more overwhelmingly male (I think by 70% or so, but I'll post the study I did with my class group latter), so I was pretty familiar with the news coverage of local Bay Area news stations.

During our discussion she talked about how, in the newsroom, the most coverage will go to someone who speaks the loudest about a news issue. So I mentioned how I know a lot of people who are outspoken in Bayview Hunters Point (a predominately Black neighborhood in San Francisco and a ghetto [some people still live in run down army barracks over there]), especially about issues of gentrification and how their voices don't get heard and how it should be the reporter's job to not just listen to those who "speak loudest" but actually find very pressing issues.

She than said when she said "loud voices" she meant reporters in the news room and not just people in the community. If she would have kept it at that all would have been well and I wouldn't be writing this blog...but...she went on. She than said how maybe issues in Hunters Point wouldn't be that important to the "overall" Bay Area Community and how they need to not just cover stories in Hunters Point but in (rich and white) Berkeley as well as the South Bay and the (rich and white) North Bay. I thought What the fuck is this damn white woman talking about!!?? The community?? The community in the Bay Area is people of color! Whites are a minority or close to a minority when compared with the population of Chinese, Filipino, and Latino Americans! What community are you talking about!!??

I then told here how that was a problem. I said that people of color make up almost half, if not more, of the population in the Bay Area and that they don't get covered that much in the news by local mainstream news stations. I then said alluded to her that why wouldn't an issue in Hunters Point be an important Bay Area issue.

A fellow female student of mine chimed in and voiced my concern pretty well when she said that issues effecting Bay View Hunters Point are more important to her than some University of California Berkeley elites getting upset about environmentalists camping out in their university trees (a semi-big story here in the Bay Area).

I than said how the way the news is going about presenting the news is basically wrong. She's talking about how they need to appeal to a mass audience and yet she seems to be saying she's appealing to a white audience, which is not the majority demographic in the Bay Area. I said how issues effecting people of color are almost never covered, and if they are, they are only covered because of issues of gang violence or shootings, and that's the only thing people see on TV associated with these certain communities.

Than another fellow classmate of mine chimed in to our poor poor reporters defense. He started off with. "I'm Latino." Oh boy! And how in Sol Cal (Southern California) people in the Latino community would complain about how Latinos were only being portrayed in the news as illegal immigrants and as gang members. Than he said "But when I went to Boston" the news media focused on Irish American gangs and how the Irish American community would complain that they were being stereotyped as gang members and as violent. OK! Fine! Than if that's the case than that's completely fucked up and the media should change their focus!! What does this have to do with the discussion at hand! He than said how it had nothing to do with race and everything to do with statistics. Excuse me?? He said that Latinos in Southern California predominately are involved in crimes down there and therefor get covered more and how poor Irish in Boston are predominately involved in crime there and therefor get covered more. Oh my God! Could this White rich Landino (Landino means a white and rich Latino, or non-Latino) be any more juvenile in his thinking! Jesus Christ!

I chimed in by saying how its utterly ridiculous to say that news coverage in one area is justified because of statistics (and first of all, where does he get his statistics from? Is he just making it up? Does he only think this because the mass media only portrays Latinos as such? Hmmmmm). One should focus on issues effecting the Latino community, I said, that don't involve gang violence, there are plenty of issues out there. And also, if one is covering gang violence than one should delved deeper into the deep rooted problems in gang violence and not just have it be a normal news report. As for the Irish American community in Boston. That doesn't justify Sol Cal news focus on Latino violence. That's messed up if that's all the news media covers in Boston because there's more to the Boston Irish community than violence (and explain to me how stereotyping the Boston Irish community justifies the stereotyping of the Latino community, is it because their white! Shit). I basically started saying how the news media keeps a narrow focus on certain issues within the Bay Area and only caters to a certain audience (a white audience) and not to the needs of a vast majority of others (people of color) and how when one does cover the Chinese community its only during the Lunar New Year and when one covers the Black community its only during spouts of gang violence. There is no depth, there is no substance, and if you do get a good in depth piece on the Black community because of gang violence the fact that that piece only came about because of gang violence is not right! One should be focusing on that community whether there is gang violence or not! That should not be the excuse to cover the Black community! Why, that's weird. Why are they covering the Black community? Oh! Right, right! Gang violence. Those craz-ay Negroes.

The speaker than said, oh shit, here it comes, that there was a Black woman in the news room saying. "No, we should cover this, we shouldn't cover that." Dude! You're using the Black friend excuse!! God damn it! Whatever, I'll let that one slide for new since people in the class are getting pissed at me.

I brought up a few more points about how KRON 4 really needs to branch out and bust out of its white shell. Than she mentioned to me that I should become an intern to know what working in a news room is like. Excuse me?? What the Hell did you just say! If that isn't the biggest cop out ever! I've been a student journalist for four years (but that's beyond the point)! So I should get an internship to see how you dumb mother fuckers act!!? I told here that that doesn't matter because what I see on the news doesn't reflect what she was saying.

She than told me she didn't agree. I than snapped back and said. "Well, I don't care if you disagree I'm just telling you what I see on the TV and what I've studied." I don't remember her responding to that comment. Hah!

Another student decided to chim in (another white male) and he said that that's the type of issues that ethnic media is covering. I was like, What the Hell??!! That's messed up!! It's wrong if ethnic media is the only media covering these issues! First of all ethnic media isn't seen by the majority of people outside of that ethnic community! Secondly, the stuff that ethnic media is covering (i.e. gentrification, race issues, police brutality, institutionalized racism, etc.) is the stuff that mass media should be covering. And if that's the case than that just proves my point! Aren't you just saying that small time media outlets are for people of color and the big mass media outlets aren't really for the "masses" but just for the white population!?

The speaker also said (apparently in her defense) that KRON 4 doesn't look at race when doing their coverage and they've never thought about it. They only do coverage based on region (North Bay, East Bay, San Francisco, etc.). She actually admitted they've never considered race! What the fuck!

I interrupted her by saying. "You've never considered that? Wow! Why? Never?"

I said a few other things until the speaker chimed in again and set me off (I behaved, I wasn't yelling or anything) when she said that a main bureau editor for the Oakland Tribune was Black and that he's been around for the past 20 or 25 years. That's it! I've had enough of this shit!

"So what!" I said rather sternly.

She looked at me a little confused. "So what!" I said again. "Who cares if he's Black! That has nothing to do with what we're talking about!" She seemed a little speechless and the class ended shortly there after.

So, yeah, these are our future journalists (and one present day journalist) and our future political science people.

Damn I'm pissed off!


Anonymous said...

Damn, dude. That's pretty disheartening. I guess at least someone actually called that person out on their bullshit. "Ethnic news" ...god damn..

Anonymous said...

good for you! i'm wondering where the professor was during all this, ie, what was he/she saying? and yah, i hate it when elite people of color discount others because they cannot immagine their experience.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you have guts standing up like that. Its so frustrating having people be totally obvlious to the experience and point of view of a large portion of the population. I think that she was totally ignorant and really didn't care enough about the issue. I've pretty much had it with the news media anyway because of their coverage. I heard on PBS that most people under 30 don't even get their news from tv or newspapers anymore anyway.