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Through The Media Lens: Covering Race and Police Brutality

Bob Butler

Bob Butler

By Bob Butler 

The second half of 2014 has been marked by the shooting deaths of four African-American males by local law enforcement — Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York, John Crawford and Tamir Rice in Ohio — that have attracted the attention of national media and the federal government, and shined a light on the issue of policing in minority communities.

It has also been marked by some exceptional journalism on the subject, as well as some alarming narratives from journalistic choices that, while not necessarily intentional, serve to perpetuate stereotypes of Black men as dangerous criminals.

Race is present in the dynamics around these stories and those who are involved in producing these stories. Put another way: while a diverse group of journalists has been on the ground reporting this story, the same cannot be said about who makes decisions about what will be covered and how.

Some of the coverage goes into great detail about how the victims’ actions may have contributed to their own demise: John Crawford should not have tried to buy a toy rifle at Walmart, Mike Brown should not have (allegedly) stolen cigars from a convenience store, Eric Garner should not have (allegedly) been selling loose cigarettes and Tamir Rice should not have been playing with a toy gun.

These cases are not the first, nor will they be the last, involving Black males and the police. It must be pointed out that Black males are not the only ones being shot. Dillon Taylor in Utah and Gil Collar in Alabama were White and also unarmed when police shot them. The difference is the media coverage of their cases does not imply that they deserved to die.

From the breaking news coverage of these events to the analysis that followed, and will hopefully continue, it is important to recognize the negative patterns that can emerge in such stories, and to discuss strategies for countering these patterns.

Two questions can help guide this process: Is this information relevant? And how will this affect the story?

A big part of how narrative is shaped in these stories starts with the photos of those involved. While availability of photos can be a challenge, especially in the early stages of a fast-moving story, efforts must be made to paint the fullest picture (pun intended) of the central figures. Images depicting black men solely as menacing, threatening or dangerous only fuel existing stereotypes.

Weighing whether to include details about a black victim’s criminal background or drug use also contributes to the narrative. Here, balance is important. Is there an attempt to report the officer’s history? Does the officer have a disciplinary history or a record of complaints regarding use of force? Is the victim’s background relevant to the specific incident that ended his life? If so, explain this to readers, lest it be interpreted as gratuitous or malicious.

In the case of Tamir Rice, why did the Northwest Ohio Media Group report on his parents’ criminal records? What did that have to do with Rice being shot by police?

Stories like Ferguson and the deaths of Crawford, Garner and Rice reaffirm the urgency of more diverse American newsrooms. Look no further than the membership of the National Association of Black Journalists to find many examples of responsible reporting.

NABJ was founded in 1975 in part, “to monitor and sensitize all media to racism.” Nearly 40 years later, NABJ still finds it necessarily to fulfill this role. It is our hope that those committed to a better approach to exploring issues of race and society will join us in examining how we can all improve.

Bob Butler is the President of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). NABJ is the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation, and provides career development as well as educational and other support to its members worldwide. For additional information, please visit, http://www.nabj.org

“Extra, Extra… Read All About It!”

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

THE DEVIL IS A LIAR AND DECEIVER! “He is the greatest concealer, the mightiest pervert of truth, the ultimately misleader, the most convincing fraud, the master of disguise and the master of surprise!” He’s a malicious liar whose only purpose is to steal, kill and destroy your life. His game is Deception (Matt 7:13-15) and his trick is no treat. Scriptures and experience proves that every time the Devil promises happiness, he lies. Every time the Devil promises things will turn out well, he lies and deceives. Proving that everybody who ever depended on the Devil’s lie, the Devil’s way, the Devil pleasure, the Devil’s whim, the Devil’s plan for happiness and peace, found they had been bamboozled, hoodwink, duped, fooled and deceived… Satan the Trickster…  He will lie, cheat, connive and steal to hurt you if he can. Hear me and hear me good…. I don’t care who you are, how holy and pure you are, how long you’ve walked with God, or how old or young you are, Satan couldn’t care less about you or me, but he knows God loves us, so if he can hurt us and make sure we can’t spend eternity with God, that will hurt God. This is war! It is a battle for your soul. And for those of you have chosen to go all the way with God, with a determination to obey and pursue holiness, you can be 100% sure Satan has a hellish setup planned for you.  Watch out! “Be sober; be vigilant; because your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” {1 Peter 4:8}. His lies are so devious and his traps and setups so camouflaged with charm and beauty that we can only depend on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to expose them.

You see, in order to seize the throne of God and to attract willing followers, Satan has snidely and viciously set out to deceive us – to convince us that he has the truth and that God is a liar. But it is he, Satan, who is a liar! Scripture says he has been a liar from the beginning. His purpose is to turn the whole world against God and to rebel against all of His laws and standards.  Understand that Satan is the arch enemy of God and the church. His intent is to destroy the work of God in your life by any means possible. He wants to detour you from the presence of God and he’s willing to do any and everything to do that. He wants to get you to a point where you throw in the towel and step back from God. But I come with a word of encouragement; Stand Strong! Stand strong in the Lord and know that God will give you strength to endure in every situation. The Lord tells us that He won’t put more on us than we can bare and the enemy knows this. And because the enemy knows God’s burdens are light, the enemy will take the littlest things and place it under a microscope to make your circumstances and burdens APPEAR to be bigger that what it actually is. Remember that… And when you hear the roar of the lion, when the flood crashes in, and you’re overwhelmed, simply run to the Holy of Holies. By faith, enter into the very presence of God on His throne, because the Lamb has made a way for you, through His blood. Call on Him, and stand on the power of Christ’s blood… Jesus is our example here. He resisted the Devil with God’s Word… the TRUTH exposes Satan, putting him to shame… Hebrews says, “That all who have trusted in God’s Word “through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.” (Hebrews 11:33). I tell you we must muzzle the powers of Hell by standing on God’s Word. Fall on your face before the father. And immerse yourself in His Word. Because the devil knows this war is his last chance, he knows that he has only a short time remaining before Christ returns for his bride. And because of that, Satan’s war against the church is the most intense of all. He wants to gain back the ground he lost to Christ – so he’ll stop at nothing to destroy the faith of his bride. That means he’s going to use all of his weapons against us – all subtleties, deceits and devices. It is therefore important to know what you believe about God and what is substantiated in the Bible because we are living in a time when earth’s greatest deception is about to take place right before our eyes and so closely will the counterfeit resemble the truth that it will be impossible to distinguish between the two except by the Holy Scriptures.

You know, as I walk with Christ and continue to do His will, one thing I realize is that the enemy is persistent – persistent to stop me and anyone else who seeks to do the will of God. Please don’t be oblivious to the schemes of the devil as he comes to kill, steal, and destroy. To be wise, we must know who to listen to {God} – and who NOT to listen to {Satan}.  The purpose of this article is NOT to glorify Satan, but to show you his strategy so that you don’t become a casualty. We live in a war zone. Like it or not, we are in the middle of the age old conflict between good and evil, the kingdom of light and kingdom of darkness, God and Satan. Do not be deceived by Satan…..“Extra, Extra … Read All About It!”

Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown Named Legislator of Year by the Alzheimer’s Association

Cheryl Brown

Cheryl Brown

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown (D-San Bernardino) was unanimously selected as the 2015 Legislator of the Year by the Alzheimer’s Association for authoring AB 1744, The California Family Caregiver Act of 2014. The Alzheimer’s Association will present Assemblymember Brown her award on Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 on their annual legislative advocacy day in Sacramento.

“I am honored to be named the Alzheimer’s Association Legislator of the Year for 2015,” Assemblymember Brown said. “As the Chair of the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, I look forward to working with the Alzheimer’s Association to ensure that as California’s population ages, the state provides the necessary resources for research while providing the best possible care for seniors living with Alzheimer’s.”

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. To learn about how you can help in the fight against Alzheimer’s visit www.alz.org.