Feb
01
2013

Whitewashing in the Name of 'Inclusion'

Chicago public radio cancels Smiley & West

Tavis Smiley--Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In the view of the head of Chicago public radio, Smiley & West—a show with two African-American hosts focusing largely on the powerless—was an obstacle to inclusivity because its opposition to poverty and inequality alienates those with other views.

Jan
01
2013

The Unexplored Questions of Affirmative Action

Coverage of admissions case a catalog of broadsides

Source: Cnn.com

Against the electric backdrop of electoral polemics, the October 10 Supreme Court session on the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas sent few sparks flying. Zeroed in on the election, the press dutifully reported the tit-for-tat and quips and quibbles around the case (Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin), but left untouched the deeper implications of potentially overturning affirmative action. Reviewing the coverage felt like staring at an iconic three-dimensional chess match from Star Trek—only with all lower levels of the board disappeared from sight. An overview of the main pieces: Abigail Fisher, a white student […]

Jan
01
2013

Talking About--but Not With--Latino Voters

Electoral power not matched by media presence

Maria Teresa Kumar, a rare out-of-house Latina appearance on TV.
Source: MSNBC's News Nation

The Latino vote has been widely credited in the mainstream news media with playing a major role in securing Barack Obama’s re-election. According to the polling organization Latino Decisions, the president won 75 percent of the Latino vote, compared with 23 percent for Romney, a 3-to-1 margin (Foreign Affairs, 11/15/12). But while the stereotypical sleeping giant woke up, that does not mean that the mainstream media, especially television news shows, wanted to talk with the Latino electorate. They just wanted to talk about them. Extra! looked at hundreds of transcripts of post-election coverage and found that the majority of both […]

Nov
01
2012

Videogame Bigotry and the Illusion of Freedom

How game designers turn prejudice into play

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim's 'Redguard' race--Photo Credit: Skyrim Wiki/Bethesda Softworks/Google Images

The definitive element of a videogame is the player’s agency within the game’s world. Instead of “viewers,” games have “players," and the player makes dozens of choices every minute that directly shape the experience: Will Mario sneak around the turtle monster, or will he jump on it until it dies? That sense of control over the protagonist can give the narrative of a videogame much greater impact than that of any conventional form of storytelling.But with that agency comes an illusion of freedom--which is dangerous. The player is not really “free,” since their actions are limited to the options created […]

Nov
01
2012

The Need to Decode GOP's Coded Messages

The ink of racism can't be factchecked away

Mitt Romney filmed in secret at a fundraiser--Photo Credit: Mother Jones/Google Images

Lamenting the state of political writing, George Orwell once observed that “the great enemy of clear language is insincerity”: When there is “a gap between one’s real and declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.” In modern politics, of course, limited media time and attention spans make no allowance for florid language, so thinly veiled appeals to racism have become the “ink” of choice. Amid the national elections, the GOP machine has been one very busy cuttlefish indeed. Most infamous is Mitt Romney’s off-the-cuff remark to millionaire […]

Nov
01
2012

One City, Two Languages

How the El Paso Times segregates the news

“Faces and Places,” says a link on the website of the El Paso Times, a venerable daily newspaper on the U.S./Mexico border. Click and you’re transported to photos of the community’s apple-pie-and-motherhood social events. In one picture, a fair-skinned little girl straddles a horse as a Stetson-hatted man guides her on a trail ride. In another, a middle-aged woman holds a fluffy dog who’s poised to jump in a pool—it’s canine swim day at an El Paso recreation center. These photos, and others just as wholesome, grace the paper’s English-language website. But over in another section, called “Fotogalerías,” the images […]

Sep
21
2012

Vijay Prashad on "Muslim Rage," Imara Jones on 47 percent and race

newsweek-rage2

This week on CounterSpin: In the wake of the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and angry demonstrations in several other Muslim countries, corporate media are largely fingering religious differences and the peculiarities of Islam as the reason.

Sep
01
2012

Missing Latino Voices

Excluded from the newsroom, absent from the conversation

Since 1990, the Latino population in the United States has more than doubled to 16 percent, but English-language U.S. news media outlets are simply not keeping up. While people of color and women have always been underrepresented in U.S. media, Latinos consistently stand out—in the coverage as well as inside the newsroom—for their exceptionally paltry numbers relative to their population size. In coverage In Extra!’s recent study of the opinion pages of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal (4/12), Latinos were granted less than half a percent of the op-ed bylines over the two-month study period—writing […]