The media coverage on the Black Lives Matter protest in many cases was miss handled and shown through a very bias point of view. Most media sources focused on the violence and perpetuated it by linking it to other cases of violence. The MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics, as outlined by Mark Pearson and Mark Polden in The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law stress that the fundamental principle as a journalist is to strive to tell and respect the truth when it comes to sharing information to the public. (Pearson and Polden, 2019).
Pearson and Polden continue to say that journalist’s main concern to “report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply” (Pearson and Polden, 2019).
Using the parameters of the MEAA to analyse how journalists covered the Black Lives Matter protests, one main concern about how the media continued to more often or not fall back on the cover the Black Lives Matter movement was by continuing to fall into the protest paradigm. The protest paradigm as covered in both the lectures and tutorials is a way that the media follow a negative bias towards the cause they are reporting on.
As reporters follow this paradigm it often lands causes and protests like the Black Lives Matter movement in an anti-status as it challenges the status quo. As the movement is similar in some ways to the Civil Rights movement under Martin Luther King Jr, as it continued to break down unfair treatment and or limitations placed on a group of people for either their race, religion, gender or sexual preferences. Some news sources did break this paradigm however by interviewing the founders and covered how this female led movement started from tweets on twitter that led to the formation of a website after 17-year-old Traywan’s killer was released from prison, not the murder of George Floyd by the police force as most media sources had presented through their coverage. These media outlets that did break the paradigm also shed light on how the movement was similar but differed from the Civil Rights movement with similar demands for equality but had a more inclusive nature rather than the male dominance of the Civil Rights movement.
The paradigm also discredits movements by focusing on the actions or the dramatics associated with it, and with that focus on the violence or property damage other cases of violence is connected rather than focusing on the reason behind or the history of the movement, which happened in the case of the Black Lives Matter rallies- as most news footage showed police pushing back protestors or burning and or vandalised property.
Another way of continuing to discredit this movement was they way most media avoided interviewing or telling the perspective of the movement from its participants and rather a -most likely conservative point of view that would emphasise the belief the movement was causing upset to the status quo-government official or a police officer. These interviews often have a lack of information, as show how little of the foundation history of the movement is known in the public and continued to write the peoples of these movements to violent actions or criminals. Whereas the government/ law enforcement are given benefit of doubt or even if negativity is linked, details are removed and those actions that remain are written in a passive voice to lessen the blow to them from the people reading or viewing the media source.
Overall, the media coverage on the Black Lives Matter protest miss handled and in future cases be used as an example on bias in the media. Indeed, some news sources did break from the bias perspective, that goes all the way to the ownership of the media and the current sate we are in where a conservative point of view is being told on mass to the public as shown by the emphasis the violence or property damage rather than the reason for or the story behind why the movement was formed.
As a final thought of a journalism student, has the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics been followed I believe a less bias reporting would have occurred.
1- Pearson, M. and Polden, M., 2019. The journalist’s guide to media law. 6th ed. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, pp.527-528.