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.
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 [...]
On the verge of a breakthrough--or breakdown
For many Latinos, the growth of new media offered hope for both expanded representation and democratization in the truest sense of the word. It was not enough for this growing demographic in the United States to be written about and reported on. Latinos, who defy simplistic labels and check boxes, wanted to represent themselves and their experiences, something they were not getting to do prior to the boom of blogs. This is no small matter among one of the fastest growing demographics in the United States, 52 million and rising (U.S. Census, 5/12). For Latinos, both the formally trained journalists [...]
Austerity, immigration are the real civil rights issues
During recent campaigning, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have appealed to the Latino community by acknowledging the “Latino education crisis.” Romney told the conservative Latino Coalition that the poor track record of schools serving students of color is “the civil rights issue of our era” (New York Times, 5/24/12). He identified teacher unions as the obstacles to reform (Washington Post, 5/23/12): “The teachers’ unions don’t fight for our children.” His prescription included a federal school voucher program and the expansion of non-union charter schools. Obama has also linked educational reform to civil rights themes (New York Times, [...]
Banning books that promote 'ethnic solidarity'
Orwell observed in his dystopian masterpiece 1984 that "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." As America’s demographic landscape continues to undergo a significant shift toward a more multicultural—and multicolored—reality, political forces representing the past are doing their utmost to superimpose that past onto the future by “disappearing” inconvenient facts of history. In January, the school board in Arizona’s Tucson Unified School District shut down that city’s Ethnic Studies/Mexican American Studies curriculum, with the state’s school superintendent, John Huppenthal, declaring that it violated a recent Arizona state law that prohibits courses placing “ethnic [...]
Misplaced alarm over ‘majority minority’ nation
The past four years have supplied ample evidence to dismiss the idea that America is witnessing a new post-racial era--but will the coming decades see the beginning of a post-white one? That appears to be the implication of a new federal government report released on May 17, dryly titled, “Most Children Younger Than Age One Are Minorities, Census Bureau Reports.” According to the Bureau’s estimates, as of July 1, 2011, slightly more than 50 percent of the national population under age one is minority—meaning not having “white” as your sole race, or else having “Hispanic” ethnicity. In short, whites are [...]
Women, people of color still marginalized online
Recent years have seen much rallying around “traditional” journalism in the face of its supposedly imminent demise, including the mythologizing of pre-Internet news media as a force of social cohesion. Lamenting the “culture of observing events from ‘inside’ a community,” Washington Post columnist and associate editor David Ignatius (5/2/10) contended: When the information landscape was dominated by three networks and a few major newspapers, journalists were trained to report for everyone. Now, niche audiences want more intimacy and connection—even if that means less old-school independence and objectivity. Traditional outlets, of course, did not and do not report “for everyone,” but [...]
Before his killer, Trayvon Martin put on trial
“One can prove or refute anything at all with words,” wrote Anton Chekhov in the short story “Lights.” “Soon people will perfect language technology to such an extent that they’ll be proving with mathematical precision that twice two is seven.” In the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black youth killed by an overzealous neighborhood vigilante, the “language technology” being employed to portray the victim as the aggressor builds on words like “hoodie” and “marijuana”—and the most malleable linguistic alloy of all, silence. The hoodie Martin wore on the rainy night of his murder earned the ire of his stalker, [...]