There is a reason why black people hate the media: they hyper-criminalize us.
According to a new study by Media Matters for America done in partnership with Color of Change, four New York City television stations consistently reported crimes by black people at a higher rate than their arrest rates. Here it is in a chart:
Between August 18 and December 31 of last year, WCBS, WNBC, WABC, and WNYW (Fox) over-reported murders, thefts and assaults at rates that were inconsistent with NYPD statistics. Over the past four years, NYPD statistics show that black people were arrested in 54 percent of murders, 55 percent of thefts, and 49 percent of assaults.
But during that same time period, 74 percent of murder, 84 percent of theft and 73 percent of assault suspects shown on the city’s four major networks were black. WABC aired the most disproportionate number of black criminal suspects while WNYW aired the least.
WNYW aired 31 crimes stories with race-identified suspects while WABC ran reports with 115 race-identified suspects during that four-and-a-half-month period; WCBS ran 88 and WNBC ran stories with 94 suspects.
Given that New York City is the largest media market in the U.S and is the media center of the world, the results of this study are very disturbing. The pattern is both unmistakable and, from black people’s point of view, intentional.
Other studies show similar over-reporting of black crime suspects in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. The data reveals what black people have known for years: the media goes out of its way to criminalize us.
Over the weekend, #BlackTwitter mocked CNN with the hashtage #CNNBeLike because the network chose to run a mugshot of Otis Bird, a Mississippi man who was found hanging from a tree near a home belonging to his family.
After Mike Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, in Ferguson., Mo., #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, a hashtag in which users juxtaposed photos of themselves in graduation attire and other positive life moments against photos that could be viewed by the media as “thuggish,” went viral on Twitter after users expressed outraged at how mainstream media were depicting the 18-year-old during the first few days after his shooting.
The report is another piece of damning evidence that mainstream media goes out of its way to over-criminalize black people.