Media and Myths
When the U.S. faced the question of what role millions of newly-freed African-Americans should play in society, the news press itself was in transition. The popular “penny-press” was beginning to replace newspapers connected to political parties. The change would bring new standards to reporting, as would new technologies. As journalism became a distinct profession, it aspired to a model that increasingly valued accuracy and objectivity as more conducive to the public good than journalistic allegiance to political parties or causes. Similarly, the newly “independent” news media claimed to be more “fair” and “balanced” than its “biased” partisan rivals. Yet over the next 90 years, journalists would champion both white supremacy and racial equality. What can this history of media racism and racial advocacy teach us about the press today? This special discussion-starter program, for professional, community and classroom use, covers the entire time period of Between Civil War and Civil Rights episodes.