Watching While Black: Centering the Television of Black Audiences

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And this effect is clearly visible in the current TV season. According to a recent Nielsen analysis of TV viewership, several programs with a predominantly black cast or a main storyline focusing on a black character are drawing substantial non-black viewership. That insight is important for culture and content creators, as well as manufacturers and retailers looking to create engaging, high-impact advertising campaigns.

Some of these programs wade into the real-world tensions of today. Though some shows with a strong black identity may not pull a majority non-black audience, many still have noteworthy non-black viewership. Henson as ex-spouses grappling over the future of a multimillion-dollar hiphop company, is one such example. Henson took home a best actress Golden Globe last year for her portrayal of Cookie, and Cover Girl recently announced a makeup collection inspired by the hit show. These accolades offer further evidence of a cultural recalibration in which black voices increasingly are heard.

Gorham, Syracuse University. Research shows that crime-related television shows often exaggerate white female victimizations, emphasize African American offenders and inflate the proportion of all crime that is violent. However, following the civil rights movement, the linkage between Blacks and crime was galvanized. This article details the theoretical elements contribution to the development of Black criminal typification to understand how this has been used to justify racial profiling.

Dixon, University of Illinois, Keith B. Maddox, Tufts University. For example, Dixon and Linz examined the portrayal of Blacks and Whites in crime reports and television newscasts in the Los Angeles area. These finding are in stark contrast to the ways in which Whites were portrayed on television news. Dixon, University of Illinois, Cristina L. Azocar, San Francisco State University.

Results revealed that Black and Latino juveniles were significantly more likely than White juveniles to be portrayed as perpetrators on television news. Black juveniles were overrepresented as lawbreakers, whereas Latino juveniles were underrepresented as lawbreakers on television news. Dubriel, Georgia State University. Typically these unfavorable depictions reinforce negative stereotypes associated with African Americans. Specifically, African Americans were depicted as excited whereas Asian Americans were seen as calm.

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The results support the social construction of emotion and suggest that the news media play a role in framing and constructing emotional meaning with regard to different subgroups of American society. Randall, University of Mexico. Journalists interviewed cab drivers, who talked about Blacks as violent, poor people who would either try to rob them, would want to be taken to dangerous neighborhoods, or would not have the fare. Given that these men were often born outside the United States, how did they develop these images of African Americans, a people with whom they had little or no personal experience before coming to this country?

After decades of negative portrayals of African Americans, the perceptions of Blacks as violent, uneducated, lazy people have been put forth for foreigners to consume through their television screens. These manufactured perceptions often result in societal support of excessive police force, growing prison populations, draconian immigration policies and cultural parochialism.

Public perception is therefore crucial to the formation and implementation of public policy. If the news media truly wishes to promote democratic values, they must accurately portray communities and their racial diversity. The news media must challenge the persuasive racism in our society by exposing racism in all its forms.

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In addition, they should take a proactive stance in promoting racial and cultural diversity in newscasts. The data speaks for itself. We have a long way to go in this community to heal the wounds of racism. Until the media commits to more accurate, honest and complete portrayals of diverse races and racial issues in this community, justice can not flourish. The coverage of police racial profiling has been fairly accurate and balanced. Yet while the mainstream media continues to cover police racial profiling, they have generally failed to acknowledge their own practice of media racial profiling.

And when it has, the result has been more cover-up than coverage. Randall, University of Dayton. Brewer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This article explores whether African Americans use Black media in place of mainstream media or consume both in a complementary fashion. Russ Maloney, Indiana State University. On any given day the average person can choose from dozens—if not hundreds—of television channels delivered by cable or satellite; several terrestrial, satellite, or internet radio stations; newspapers in both paper and online form; and other alternative media.

With this type of media bombardment, one would think that the average person could get news from a variety of sources and hear radically different points of view. However, the multitude of media outlets available does not necessarily mean an increased number of viewpoints. In fact, because of the structure of media ownership, fewer companies control the channels that are available. As a result, there is potential for a limited number of people to control access to the media, and therefore control which topics are discussed.

The lack of competition leads to duplicated content. News vs.

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In contrast, people who prefer entertainment abandon the news and become less likely to learn about politics and go to the polls. The myth of objectivity is just that—a myth.


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In this highly competitive multichannel and increasingly digital environment, understanding the African American market in all its complexity and potential will be essential for successful programming, marketing, acquisition and retention of these valuable customers. The press, by failing to provide more accurate, thorough, and balanced coverage of our increasingly diverse communities, has abdicated its responsibility to foster an exchange of information and perspectives that is necessary in democracy.

Hence refusal by major cable companies to give capacity to African American-backed entrepreneurs should be viewed from that perspective. The following trade data will illustrate just how valuable and under-served African American cable subscribers are today. Blacks are now fully represented in all income groups, level of educational achievement, and home and small business ownership. In fact, diversity for most African Americans, as with most Americans, occurs primarily in the workplace.

This is one of the most powerful needs and desires among African Americans and yet is often overlooked by marketers. This group has been growing at three times the rate of the White male population, are younger with a median age of African American men have made tremendous progress in many areas, including educational attainment, work pursuits and income. The importance of this younger and growing population cannot be overshadowed by negative stereotypes. Black men are a critical market segment with substantial buying power that continues to increase at a notable rate.

From to this group increased With more discretionary income than other African American age groups, matures are seeking products, services and activities that help them fully enjoy life. The mature African American is typically an urban home owner and a politically active Democrat. Religion is an important part of their lives, and the church serves as a spiritual and social support and information center.

Almost all stereotypes emerge out of fear, ignorance and misunderstanding of the target. It is rather easy to subscribe to myths and stereo types if one does not take the time to explore the cultural nuances of a people. The time has passed when marketers can comfortably afford to ignore the spending power harnessed in this segment. Whites and Blacks live in different worlds. Perhaps the best indicator of the racial divide between Americans is the fact that, unlike the earlier days of TV when there were not other options, Blacks and Whites watch entirely different television programs.

Cable television may be changing the rules of the game, however, as mainstream networks vie for African American viewers, they may be setting the stage for a truly transracial milieu.

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Perhaps the answer is obvious. In television, Black American viewers have either been ignored or stereotyped for so long that they tend to respond to programming that appears to stem from their own culture as opposed to that which sublimates it. Future trends in program preferences of Black viewers are difficult if not impossible to predict, but with help a diverse corps of programming leaders, cable TV networks will have tremendous resources to judge, select and post programming that is better balanced in terms of all forms of multiethnic and multiracial appeal.

Andre Cavalcante

CAB News Releases. Yunying Zhang, Washington State University.

They can, as research has shown. Of the four minority groups, African Americans appear on American media most frequently.