Racial biases impact media’s portrayal of Black people in the legal system, new media analysis released by Global Strategy Group

In collaboration with our partners at Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), Global Strategy Group (GSG) has developed: Innocent Until Proven Guilty? A look at media coverage of criminal defendants in the U.S. This report takes a deep dive look at the discrepancies in media coverage of Black defendants versus white defendants.   

Special press media re-post: Shout to Jade Floyd and her team at GSG for this report highlighting continued racial bias in news coverage.

Good morning. With the recent events surrounding the arrests of James and Jennifer Crumbley in Michigan, and the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse in Wisconsin, the racial biases of our criminal justice system continue to manifest themselves in plain sight. As we seek answers and solutions, it’s important to consider the role that media coverage plays in reinforcing the stereotypes that lead to an unequal treatment of Black people by our legal system in this country.
 

In collaboration with our partners at Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), Global Strategy Group (GSG) has developed: Innocent Until Proven Guilty? A look at media coverage of criminal defendants in the U.S. This report takes a deep dive look at the discrepancies in media coverage of Black defendants versus white defendants. 
 

The report analyzes data from 10 case studies of criminal court cases – five with a Black defendant and five with a white defendant. A focus on topics including imagery, language, framing of defendant and victim, and reporter background reveals racial biases in the portrayal of defendants. 
 

“Racially biased media coverage has been a substantial factor contributing to unreliable and unjust outcomes in the criminal legal system. News media have often reinforced a presumption of guilt and dangerousness assigned to Black people when reporting on crime while devaluing the lives of Black people and the harm they suffer when victimized. American media can and should do better in eliminating racially biased coverage.” – Bryan Stevenson, Equal Justice Initiative Director 
 

Some of the findings from the report include: 
 

  • Mugshots were used in coverage of 45% of Black defendants compared to only 8% of white defendants 
  • White victims of crime were nearly 4x more likely than Black victims of crime to have a photo with friends or family included in coverage 
  • Coverage was 50% more likely to mention the names of white defendants 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REPORT 

As an organization, GSG is deeply committed to the fight for racial justice in the U.S. From conducting research on how best to  include Black Americans in the political process to helping corporations champion racial progress, our work is inextricably tied to the liberation of Black people. We know that racism is systemic, and that all institutions – including the media – demand scrutiny and must be held accountable. 
 

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