Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

African American Studies

Advisor(s)

Casarae L. Abdul-Ghani

Second Advisor

Lars Willnat

Keywords

Black Lives Matter, Journalism, Protests

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Communication | Journalism Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter Protests: Portrayal in the Mainstream Media and the Effects on Audience Perception examines newspaper coverage of the #BlackLivesMatter protests following the police killings of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray in 2015 and Korryn Gaines in 2016. The thesis seeks to analyze newspaper articles written by journalists of mainstream presses and Black American presses to interrogate the audience’s perception of #BlackLivesMatter protests. In other words, how is the audience’s perception about #BlackLivesMatter protests cultivated after reading the news? Through qualitative research, findings determined that The Washington Post and The New York Times occasionally published articles associating unlawful acts with African American protestors without properly contextualizing the #BlackLivesMatter movement’s intentional civil disobedience. The thesis utilizes Critical Race Theory to address the narrow analysis of newspaper content to ascertain The Baltimore Afro and The Washington Informer’s approach to the protest coverage alongside the mainstream newspapers. Alongside discussing acts of rebellion among protesters, The Baltimore Afro and The Washington Informer, independent Black newspapers known as “The Black Press,” published interviews with community members about how they were personally affected by the protests, providing a humanitarian touch to the news story that suggests the subtle ways Black newspapers are intentional about the concerns of their readership. Conversely, among the mainstream newspapers and The Black Press, what is lacking in their coverage is a dedication to African American women victims of police brutality and the protests in their memory. Therefore, this thesis argues for the necessity for journalists to accurately depict #BlackLivesMatter protests and the intentionality of African American protests, particularly when creating newsworthy narratives that affect audience perception.

Access

Open Access

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