Portrayal and Perception: Two Audits of News Media Reporting on African American Men and Boys

Nov 1, 2011

The Heinz Endowments' African American Men and Boys Task Force conducted an audit of media reporting on black men and boys in Pittsburgh. Based on content analysis of newspapers and evening newscasts, in addition to a survey and video interviews, the findings highlight a media scene that underrepresents African-Americans males, especially in terms of their positive achievements.
  • While African Americans comprise about a quarter of Pittsburgh's population, only 8.9 percent of front-page news during the study period reported on African-American men and boys.
  • Eighty-six percent of television stories featuring African-American men and boys focused on crime. Pittsburgh's competitive television market may feed into the problem by encouraging crime coverage.
  • Survey respondents cited the media's omission of positive developments in the African-American community, including mentoring programs, music and talent shows, and increasing graduation rates. The analysis found a dearth of African-American representation in pieces on lifestyle, business, and social causes.
  • Though Pittsburgh's flourishing blogging community may be ideal for freely expressing opinions, African-American men have a very small presence in it.
  • Compared to 59 percent of all Americans, 64 percent of African Americans access the Internet on handheld devices. Developing content for this medium could be effective.