“When we talk about the white working-class voter who does not vote for Barack Obama, guess what conclusion the other folks in this country are going to make about those voters? Now, we’re going to conclude that they are bigots.”
- Keith Woods, Poynter Institute
“If — when we talk about black voters without distinguishing between one and the other, then we have a bunch of sheep running behind the black candidate because they’re black, and they’re not thinking, and they have no sophistication whatsoever. “
- Keith Woods, Poynter Institute
” The presidential campaign isn’t the start any racial divides. It is a reflection of racial divides, if there are some, in the country. And that’s what we ought to be looking at as journalists. Not about the divides within the voting patterns alone, for example, but about the social forces that maybe produce those kinds of splits in the electorate “
- Gerald Seib, Wall Street Journal
” They’re not running to be the first woman or first African-American president. They’re running to be president. “
- Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania
In the final countdown to the 2008 Democratic convention, the sensitive and difficult issue of race has introduced new challenges for journalists and analysts. Exit polls show Obama’s strong appeal to African-American voters, while Clinton appears more appealing to blue-collar voters, particularly older white women. In this video report, three experts evaluate media efforts thus far and call on journalists to avoid simplistic analyses.
Here are a few more quotes from this report for class discussion:
- ” When the media focus on ‘the black vote,’ ‘the white vote,’ and then they start to particularize the white vote within that, they invite us to see race as a defining category of analysis. That simplifies, distorts, and heightens a concept that probably is best left not discussed in this broader, complex arena, because it’s missing a whole lot of what’s happening with this electorate.” Agree or disagree? If you were the journalist, how would you report the results? What divisions other than black & white can be made among voters?
- ” We have done a pretty good job, of covering racial controversy — covering the breaking stories as they have emerged. But what’s gone on in America around race relations, what happens across the back fences and in the dining rooms of Americans, we pretty much have left that alone.” Why is racial controversy easier to report on?
- ” You see a full vocabulary for talking about white Americans in this debate, from blue-collar, a euphemism for white blue-collar workers. We talk about lunch-bucket Democrats. We talk about the soccer mom and the NASCAR dad, all of which are euphemisms in the national discourse for white Americans. And then we talk about black people, as though they are all the same, with pretty much all the same views. And Latinos and Asians haven’t fared much better. And we don’t talk at all about Native Americans.” Can you summarize this argument more simply? Do you agree or disagree? If you agree, why do you think that is?
- “Compared to past campaigns we are probably feeling a lot freer to talk about something that we’re no better at talking about.” Explain in your own words. Do you agree or disagree?
- ” I think one of the great things about a national election is that it’s a way for the country to hold up a mirror to itself and say, where are we? What are we worried about? What are we really thinking about? How do we work as a country?” How would you answer those questions?
Below are web links to material related to this story
Analysis Media Tackles Sensitive Race Issue in 2008 Election
Online NewsHour MediaWatch Resources
Annenberg Public Policy Center University of Pennsylvania
The Poynter Institute Premier journalism school
The Authentic Voice A multimedia teaching project on Journalism, Race and Ethnicity, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
The Authentic Voice: Teacher’s Guide on Diversity