chapter  3
National News Coverage of Race in the Era of Obama
Pages 21

We have reached an important historical milestone in America — the election of the first African-American president of the United States. And most of America has come to learn about him through what we see on television. Television is a powerful medium that has the potential to inform us and shape our views, especially about those we don’t encounter regularly in our daily lives. But what we learn can have a positive or a negative effect on our daily existence depending upon where we choose to get our news. When the issue is race, television appears to have a way to go before it is truly representative of the reality that exists for many minority groups in this country. While it is important to remember that society often plays a part in shaping the news, there are forces that edit, gatekeep, frame and manipulate what American audiences receive as news, often leading to distorted representations. And while it appears that we as a society have made great strides toward improving the minority condition in this country, there have been a number of recent reminders in the news that perhaps we have not overcome racism to the degree that the election of an African-American president might imply.