Coverage Is Tame When Demonstrators Are White

Vox writer: Imagine if black or Muslim protesters took over a federal building
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2016 11:43 AM CST
Ryan Bundy talks on the phone at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore. Bundy is one of those occupying the refuge.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Boone)

(Newser) – An armed group has taken over a federal building in Oregon, and leaders say they're willing to use force to defend themselves if the feds move in. It's getting news coverage, of course, but a post at Vox makes the case that coverage is nowhere near as intense as it would be if this group were largely Muslim or black instead of mostly white. "Media outlets don't seem to consider this an alarming story, instead treating it by and large as a peaceful protest," writes German Lopez. He notes that after terrorists attacks, pundits often ask the Muslim community at large to denounce them, "but there are no comparable cries demanding that all white people apologize for the militiamen."

It's a case of "implicit bias," writes Lopez, or "subconscious prejudices that can change how we approach and treat people of a different race, ethnicity, and religious affiliation." It's important that media outlets be aware of the problem, he adds, because the resulting coverage can skew how stories are perceived. Not that everyone's taking the threat all that seriously: A Daily Beast headline refers to "Wingnut Woodstock," while al Jazeera notes that the Internet seems to have settled on the name "Y'all Qaeda" to describe the group. Click to read Lopez's full post. (Read more media stories.)

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