HBCU Students Don’t Want The Media Covering Campus Protests

September 27, 2016  |  

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The media is no longer considered trustworthy. In fact a mere 6 percent of Americans trust the media. And the level of trust is lower on Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), according to a new report by  Knight Foundation and the Newseum Institute. And interestingly, they are more likely than students at non-HBCUs to be for restrictions on press coverage of campus protests.

“Although 42 percent of the national sample and 39 percent of Black students at non-HBCUs say they have ‘a great deal’ or ‘fair amount’ of trust in the press, only 28 percent of HBCU students agree. Meanwhile, they have favorable opinions of student media,” reported The Columbia Journalism Review. In fact, they are more apt than the national sample (by 51 percent to 24 percent) to have more trust in their own student media.

It’s not like HBCU students don’t follow the news; they do in a major way, especially when it came to race-related protests that occurred on campuses last fall. According to the report, 43 percent paid “a great deal” of attention to news about their campuses, compared with 34 percent of Black students at non-HBCUs and 25 percent of the national sample.

A majority of HBCU students believe in restrictions on press coverage of campus protests. Fifty-six percent said student protesters should be able to prevent the press from covering their campus events, versus the national sample in which 70 percent said the press should be free to cover them; 67 percent of Black students at non-HBCUs agreed.

One reason for mistrust of the media by people of color is image that’s portrayed of African Americans in the news. “One academic study that analyzed local television news coverage found that Black people rarely appeared in stories unless they had committed a crime, and another found that such coverage may contribute to racial bias among viewers by over-representing Black people in crime narratives,” reported Columbia Journalism Review.

It’s no wonder HBCU students don’t want outside press misconstruing the events that transpire during protests on their campuses, especially when you consider the biases seen in the reporting of “riots” following incidents of police brutality on a national scale. The aftermath often gets more attention than the events that led to the protests; hence the cycle of mistrust that continues between communities of color, the media, and other large entities that don’t have our best interest at heart.

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