Two-thirds of Black Americans believe news coverage of Black people is often more critical than coverage of other racial groups, according to a new Pew Research Center report.
The study of Black Americans’ experience with news raises important questions for a news industry struggling to maintain trust, increase newsroom diversity and broaden coverage.
Pew’s report also paints a complex picture. While there’s much consensus that the news industry falls short covering Black people, perspective on news coverage varies between Black Americans who do and don’t have college degrees, are wealthy or not, and are Republicans or Democrats.
“Across education and income levels, however, Black adults are less in agreement about news coverage of Black people,” the report states. “While these groups are much more negative than positive in their views of news coverage of Black people, those with more formal education and higher incomes tend to be particularly negative.”
In the survey of nearly 5,000 Black adults, nearly two-thirds (63%) said news about Black people is often more negative than news about other racial and ethnic groups. Another 28% said it’s about equal and 7% said it’s often more positive.
Forty-three percent said the news “largely stereotypes Black people,” 11% said it largely does not and 43% said these things happen equally.
The findings also provide insight into what makes news trustworthy for Black adults. In assessing a news story’s credibility, “relatively few” — 15% — said it’s extremely or very important that a journalist be Black. More gauge credibility by the sources cited (53%), whether it is reported by multiple outlets (50%) and the news outlet itself (46%).
Asked about ways to improve the news, 76% of Black Americans said it’s extremely or very important for the news to cover all sides of an issue and 73% said it’s extremely or very important for journalists to understand the history of issues in the story. Journalists personally engaging with people was of high importance to 59% of respondents.
Another 48% said it’s extremely or very important for journalists to advocate for Black people.
The survey did not distinguish between print and broadcast outlets, so many of the findings relate to “the news” broadly. Other surveys find trust in newspapers remains higher than television, though overall trust in news media plunged in recent years.
Pew found Black Americans’ trust in the accuracy of news was higher with local than national news outlets (48% to 44%). That’s higher than trust in news from friends, family and acquaintances (35%) and social media (18%).
Local news was the most frequent source of news for Black Americans, with 41% saying that’s where they get news extremely or fairly often. National news as the most frequent source for 35% and social media for 35%.
Pew found that just 14% of Black Americans believe it’s extremely or very important for news, regardless of topic, to come from Black journalists. More — 40% — said it’s very important to have Black journalists cover race and inequality issues.
Similarly, 44% said Black journalists are better at understanding them and 45% said Black journalists are better at covering race issues. Half of respondents (50% and 49%) said other reporters are “about the same” in this regard, and 5% said Black journalists are worse.
The latter views vary by age, with 54% of young adults aged 18 to 29 saying Black journalists are better than other journalists at covering race and inequality issues. Less than half of older Black adults feel this way, including just 37% of those aged 65 and older.
Streaming spend: Consumers spent an average of $170 per month on streaming video services over the last six months, according to a report by TiVo.
That’s down a bit from late 2022, when the average spend on video services was $189. But streaming video consumption isn’t slowing, with usage jumping from 4.4 hours a day to 4.7 in the second quarter of 2023.
No wonder thousands of newspapers closed over the last 15 years and less than 40% of Americans can name their city’s mayor.
Whether remaining newspapers thrive as they move online is an open question when people are spending so much of their discretionary dollars and time watching more and more movies, TV shows and short videos.
Press update: There is still no taker for the free printing press offered by the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. Publisher Phil Brown reports that talks with Colorado news organizations haven’t progressed and the machine is still available to an interested newspaper.