By: Mark Fitzgerald
Blacks find newspapers their least favorite medium for black news;
other minority groups aren’t thrilled with media coverage either sp.
NEARLY TWO-THIRDS of African Americans say they are upset at least once a week by the way news organizations cover black issues, a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll says.
African Americans, in fact, are far less satisfied by press coverage of minority issues than Hispanics or Asians, according to the poll.
And blacks are far more skeptical that news organizations will ever mend their ways.
Fully 66% of African Americans surveyed, for example, say newspapers “do not pay attention” to comments or criticisms about how news of interest to blacks is covered.
While the poll should be dispiriting for all news media, it reserves its worst news for local newspapers.
Just 48% of blacks surveyed say they are satisfied with how their local paper covers news related to African Americans.
By contrast, 53% of blacks are satisfied with radio news coverage of these issues and 58% are satisfied with TV coverage.
In fact ? in a result that will no doubt surprise print journalists ? African Americans indicated they believe their local paper is actually the most racially inflammatory medium.
According to the poll, 47% of black respondents said local newspaper coverage of race relations “worsens relations.” Just 14% said newspaper coverage “improves relations.”
By contrast, 44% of blacks said national TV coverage worsens relations and 19% thought it improves relations. Asked about local TV coverage, 44% said it makes relations worse while 20% believed local coverage improves relations.
Other ethnic groups were considerably more sanguine about the effect of local newspaper coverage on race relations.
Nearly one in four Hispanics said the coverage worsened relations, while 19% of whites and just 12% of Asians agreed.
Similarly, the groups were fairly forgiving of local TV news coverage: 22% of Hispanics said it worsened relations, compared to 23% of whites and 16% of Asians.
Whites were most angered by national TV news, with 44% ? slightly more than among African Americans ? saying coverage worsened relations. Not quite 30% of Hispanics agreed, as did 19% of Asians.
When the surveyed African Americans were asked about how blacks were covered in crime stories, newspapers fared a little better than broadcast news.
Fewer than half, 47%, said the coverage was unfair. Local television was called unfair by 53% of surveyed blacks while national TV was cited for unfairness by 55%.
Given this level of distrust, it is not surprising that 62% of surveyed African Americans said they are upset by news coverage of black-oriented issues at least once a week.
Among Hispanics, 39% said they were upset that often by coverage of Hispanic issues. Just 29% of Asians reported that level of dissatisfaction.
There was wide agreement among members of minority groups when they were asked about whether having a reporter of their own race or ethnicity improves coverage of a story related to that race or ethnic group.
Saying it made “a great deal” or “a moderate amount” of difference: nearly three-quarters of blacks (74%); 68% of Hispanics and 63% of Asians.
Alone among the four groups were whites: Just 10% said it made a great deal of difference, and a modest 33% said it would improve coverage a moderate amount.
Among the sobering results for newspapers, the poll found that while about half of surveyed whites read their local paper six or seven days, only about one in three blacks, Hispanics or Asians read the paper that often.
“These poll results show that those of us in the media still have a significant distance to travel before we will satisfy the concerns of our nation’s minority citizens,” said Peter S. Prichard, editor of USA Today.
The poll was based on telephone interviews conducted June 15-28 of 304 African Americans, 302 Hispanics, 310 Asians and 285 whites. Results have a margin of error of 6 percentage points.