Pew Report Finds 63% of Black Americans Say News Coverage About Black People is Often More Negative
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 26, 2023 – Courtesy of Pew) – A new Pew Research Center report finds that 63% of Black Americans say news coverage about Black people is often more negative than news about other racial and ethnic groups. While few are optimistic that will change in the foreseeable future, many see ways in which that coverage could be improved. And one factor consistently stands out – making sure that all journalists are informed about the issues affecting Black people.
This multi-method report, which is based on a survey of 4,742 U.S. Black adults conducted from Feb. 22 to March 5, 2023, and nine online focus groups of Black Americans facilitated between July and August 2022, has additional findings about:
- Views of coverage: At least half of Black adults say the news they see or hear about Black people only covers certain segments of Black communities (57%) or is often missing important information (50%), substantially higher than the 9% each who say it covers a wide variety of Black people and often reports the full story. Just 14% of Black Americans say that it is extremely or very likely that Black people will be covered fairly in their lifetimes. Far more (38%) think this is not too or not at all likely to happen.
- Steps for improving coverage: A large majority of Black Americans say that when journalists cover Black people, it is extremely or very important for them to cover all sides of an issue (76%) and understand the history of the issues in a story (73%). Roughly half (48%) say the same of journalists advocating for Black people when covering them. Among those who say they at least sometimes see racist or racially insensitive coverage about Black people, almost two-thirds (64%) say educating all journalists about issues impacting Black Americans would be a highly effective way to make coverage fairer. Substantial shares say the same of including more Black people as sources (54%) and hiring more Black people as newsroom leaders (53%) and as journalists (44%).
- Newsroom representation: Many Black Americans see instances when it is important for the news they get to come from Black journalists – particularly in news related to race and racial inequality. For instance, 45% say that Black journalists do a better job than other journalists at covering issues related to race and racial inequality, and 44% say Black journalists are better at understanding them. But few think their news in general needs to come from Black journalists or that a journalist’s race is a key factor in the credibility of a news story. For instance, just 14% of Black Americans say it is highly important that any news they get, regardless of topic, comes from Black journalists.
- Concerns about coverage within the Black population: Concerns about how Black people are covered in the news are widespread across the Black population. For instance, Black Republicans and Black Democrats (including leaners) are largely in agreement in identifying problems in news coverage of Black people: 46% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats agree that coverage largely stereotypes Black people, with just 11% in each group saying it largely does not. Additionally, Black Americans with higher levels of education and income tend to be especially negative in their assessments of the media’s coverage of Black people.
- The role of Black identity: Black Americans differ widely in their views of and experiences with news based on their sense of their own Black identity. For instance, the vast majority of those who say being Black is highly important to how they think about themselves (82%) say it is extremely or very important for journalists to understand the history of the issues in the story when covering Black people. That number falls to 55% among those who say being Black is less important to their identity.
- Sources of news and information: At least a third of Black Americans say they get news extremely or fairly often from local news outlets, national news outlets, social media sites, and friends, family and acquaintances. About a quarter of Black Americans (24%) say they get news from Black news outlets extremely or fairly often, with another 40% saying they do so sometimes.
The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 4,742 respondents is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.
Read the full report: https://www.pewresearch.org/
Survey topline: https://www.pewresearch.org/