The Washington Post

How to measure coverage of black issues

Has coverage of black issues gone up or down since President Obama took office?

One expert quoted in Michael Calderone’s Huffington Post story on the matter has one opinion:

[April Ryan of American Urban Radio] thinks there’s actually been more coverage of black unemployment during the Obama era than during previous administrations. That doesn’t mean that Ryan’s satisfied with the media attention so far. “Is it enough?” she asked. “No, it’s not enough.”

Another expert quoted in Michael Calderone’s Huffington Post story on the matter has essentially the opposite opinion

Joel Dreyfuss, managing editor of The Root, says “The amount of coverage of issues in the black community is at a low point,” and is far less than it was when he broke into journalism in the 1960s.

This is where reporters like to jump in and play referee. Who’s right? Has the coverage dipped or increased? Alas, even with Internet search engines and news archiving services, ascertaining volume trends over such a large coverage area is an undertaking fraught with practical and methodological problems.

Says Calderone via e-mail:

I had a tough time finding good data specifically on coverage of issues such as black unemployment -- as opposed to, say, unemployment or the economy more broadly. So I spent a lot of time talking to journalists, and others who closely follow and speak to issues of concern in the African American community, about whether they’ve noticed a significant change in national media coverage since the election of the nation’s first black president.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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