Viewer Ethnicity Matters: Black Crime in TV News and Its Impact on Decisions Regarding Public Policy

Ryan J. Hurley, Jakob Jake Jensen, Andrew Weaver, Travis Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Content analyses have consistently documented the disproportionate portrayal of Black Americans as criminals in the news. This experiment examines the impact of such portrayals on consumers by investigating the relationship between viewer ethnicity, viewing Black criminal suspects in the news, and beliefs related to public policy. Participants viewed a 30-minute local newscast containing crime stories featuring a majority of Black suspects, White suspects, or no crime stories. Those exposed to crime stories featuring a majority of Black suspects were more likely to rate a nondescript inmate as personally culpable (i.e., unable to be rehabilitated). An interaction between participant ethnicity and treatment condition revealed that ethnic minority group members who view a majority of Black criminals demonstrated significantly lower police support than other participants. These data suggest a complex relationship between exposure to Black crime, racial/ethnic-group membership, and crime-related perceptions and have implications for priming and spreading activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-170
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Volume71
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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