Coverage of the 1967 Disturbances

We have found a significant imbalance between what actually happened in our cities and what the newspaper, radio and television coverage of the riots told us happened. The Commission, in studying last summer’s disturbances, visited many of the cities and interviewed participants and observers. We fould that the disorders, as serious as they were, were less destructive, less widespread, and less a black-white confrontation than most people believed.

Lacking other sources of information, we formed our original impressions and beliefs from what we saw on television, heard on the radio, and read in newspapers and magazines. We are deeply concerned that millions of other Americans, who must rely on the mass media, likewise formed incorrect impressions and judgments about what went on in many American cities last summer.

In 1968 Kerner Commission found journalism industry had “failed to analyze and report adequately on racial problems.”

Could this be happening again today? Who knows, but it’s why we have to be vigilant in keeping an eye on our media.

Source: “The Communications Media, Ironically, Have Failed to Communicate”: The Kerner Report Assesses Media Coverage of Riots and Race Relations

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