The media’s historic and recent role in regards to coverage of racial issues has ranged from exclusion and subjugation to dwelling and over saturation.
So said Dr. Kenneth Campbell, of the School of Journalism and Media at the University of South Carolina, who was invited to lecture during the Martin Luther King commemoration on campus.
Campbell related data from the Kerner Commission of 1968. The commission was a report with findings that revealed urban violence was a release of frustration from inner-city blacks because of the presence of fierce racism. Campbell incorporated these findings into a comparison between racism and the media’s perspective.
“Blacks in the south were only mentioned in newspapers where they were accused of a crime. Far too often, the press acts and talks only about Negroes as if Negroes do not read the newspapers or watch television, give birth, marry, die and go to PTA meetings,” said Campbell.
Campbell also mentioned the role of the media dwelling on race issues during political campaigns by connecting his ideas with the recent election of Pres. Barack Obama. “He [Obama] is biracial. Him being biracial opened the door for whites to feel comfortable,” Campbell said.
Dr. Campbell concluded his speech by taking questions from the audience. The majority of the questions surrounded Obama’s forthcoming presidency. Campbell said, “World leadership sees this with more openness, more receptiveness. He is the president for all, supporters or not.”
Campbell, a native of North Carolina, has worked professionally as a reporter and copy editor for such newspapers as The Miami Herald, The Boston Globe and the St. Petersburg Times.