Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Keith Woods on media and race

Keith Woods, Dean of Faculty at The Poynter Institute, in a PBS NewsHour discussion of how race has figured in media coverage of the current primaries:

You know, when you look at a lot of the reporting coming out of the primaries in the Democratic race, and you see the number of times that we break things down by racial categories in determining how people voted, we are in some ways abetting what I would regard as a fairly narrow and superficial discussion about race. And I think particularly when you look at the way that we have talked about the demographic groups, the degrees to which we have divided up particularly black and white America in the conversation, we reveal, I think, in some ways both the media's limitations in how it talks about it and the country's.

So you see a full vocabulary for talking about white Americans in this debate, from "bluecollar" — a euphemism for white bluecollar workers. We talk about "lunchbucket Democrats"; we talk about "the soccer mom" and "the NASCAR dad," all of which are euphemisms in the national discourse for white Americans. And then we talk about "black people," as though they are all the same, with pretty much all the same views. And Latinos and Asians haven't fared much better. And we don't talk at all about Native Americans.
Listen to the rest as an MP3:

Media and Race (Online NewsHour, 5.2 MB download)

comments: 2

JuliaR said...

I've been watching reruns of "The West Wing" (on a Canadian cable channel) and they addressed this issue in at least one episode, where the "black caucus" was asked to vote a party line and they objected, saying they were not uniform in their views just because they were black. I loved "The West Wing" and it's just as good the second time around.

Michael Leddy said...

This scenario comes up in classroom settings too, when pale students regard a student of color as a spokesperson for some collective point of view.