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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's All About Presentation - TV Coverage of "White Crime" versus "Black Crime"

A writer writes!

A Caucasian teenager was stabbed to death the other day in the upscale community of Fishers, Indiana.  Fishers is a predominantly white community with upper income residents being the norm. The upscale large homes mirrors the wealth of most residents.

The TV news coverage of the Fishers murder seemed softer than the coverage of murders that happen in the African American community.  The TV coverage of this white on white crime featured daytime news coverage versus the murky nighttime coverage afforded crimes in black neighborhoods.  TV coverage in black neighborhoods in Indianapolis features real time night time coverage of police cars with their flashing lights, shadowy silhouetted figures and people crying.  The TV coverage of the Fishers murder featured next day daytime coverage of articulate white teenagers, not crying, but being thoughtful and saying that the person who stabbed the other teen "didn't intend to kill the other person."  The Fishers TV coverage even had one "nice" photo of parents side-by-side with their grieving teenager.

Murder is murder.  So, why should the coverage of the incident be different?  Is there such a thing as a nice murder versus a bad murder?  Does it matter that the murder happened via a knife versus a gun?  A person who uses a knife versus a gun is still using a dangerous instrument.  Is an emotional reaction leading to murder using a knife versus a gun a more acceptable murder?  I hope not.

I'm interested in seeing what punishment will be afforded the teenager who killed the other teen in the nice community of Fishers.  Somehow I sense he will get less than 10 years in jail for the crime. I can hear the attorney's plea that this young man from a "good family environment" has a life that can be salvaged and that one mistake should not be forever held against him.

The contrast in how violence is covered in black communities versus white communities still stands out in my mind.  Do news producers want to portray murder in a white community as being a mistake or an aberration ?  Do news produces want to show a murder in a black community as being typical of our environments?