10,000 people from across the country peacefully protested in Baltimore in support of the seeking of justice of the death of Freddie Gray. Despite the fact that 100 of the 10,000 acted up and approximately 35 people were arrested after the peaceful protest, (that’s about 1%), much of the mainstream media used attention grabbing words in their headlines like ‘Protest Turns Destructive, (USA Today)’ ‘Scenes of Chaos In Baltimore… (NY Times), Dozens Arrested After Protest Turns Violent (WBAL TV). One website BreitBart.com’s headlines read: 1,000 Black Rioters In Baltimore Smash Police Cars, Attack Motorists In Frenzied Protest.
The truth is you had 10,000 plus people come together in unity in support of the fight for justice for Freddie Gray. While the numbers vary, 100 or so were the ones you saw acting up on the news and the 35 persons who were arrested were the ones you read about. But reporting that won’t bring in the ratings that attract a heavy advertising revenue.
AJ Woodson’s excellent reporting of news biases demonstrates the basic Mass Media Principles using recent examples from the American news media’s accounts of the Baltimore Protest Rally. News reporting is a business that has a specific target audience. It constructs a reality to re-enforce the values, beliefs & ideologies of that target audience. In doing so, it also shapes others’ beliefs & expectations by presenting factual information that is wrapped in a distortion of emotional hype and visual hyperbole.
Since most people in America & Canada take in the news in a visual form, as opposed to detailed textual analysis, emphasis is put on action and emotion. Scenes of action & emotion are more easily conveyed, but they leave out cause, effect and linear process that extends into the past in any detail. Responses to the information increase the tendency towards quick action based on emotions not rational informed dialogue.
Read the full article for Woodson’s full analysis.