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 Volume 2.16  This View’s Guest Column December 23, 2002 

Segregation and the Media
    Media Minder    

Go read this piece on the Census Bureau’s study of racial-segregation levels in America’s cities. It makes an interesting point: Cities with less segregation are also among the fastest-growing cities, largely because they have lower taxes and fewer regulations. Meanwhile, cities with more segregation are losing population, have higher taxes and grapple with more regulations.

The story made me wonder how different news organizations might have reported the Census story when it first broke. I did a Google News search and here’s what turned up:

From the Washington Times:

Black Americans experienced a notable decline in residential segregation between 1980 and 2000, but they remain the most racially isolated of minority groups, according to a newly released report from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2000, blacks were 10 percent more likely to interact with whites than 20 years ago, the study, “Racial and Ethnic Residential Segregation in the United States: 1980-2000,” found, creating a black-white relationship that is less segregated than ever before.

Here’s how The Associated Press reported it, and how it appeared in Newsday:

America’s metropolitan areas became more integrated during the 1990s, as renovated inner cities attracted whites and immigrants while more blacks moved out to the suburbs, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday.

Here’s the Census Bureau’s press release on the study:

African-Americans experienced modest but consistent declines in residential segregation from 1980 to 2000, according to a two-year analysis of census data by the U.S. Census Bureau. The study found that segregation patterns were mixed for Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives. Despite the declines, African-Americans remained the most highly segregated group.

And here’s language straight from the study:

The trend for Blacks or African Americans is clearest of all — declines in segregation were observed over the 1980 to 2000 period across all dimensions of segregation we considered.

But then look at how Reuters covered it, via ABC:

Blacks remain the most highly segregated minority group in neighborhoods across the United States, despite changes over the last 20 years, the U.S. Census Bureau said on Wednesday. Billed as one of the agency’s most exhaustive studies ever of residential segregation, the report on trends between 1980 and 2000 showed Hispanics were the next most segregated group, followed by Asians, American Indians and Alaska natives.

It’s clear that there are still many in the media who consciously or unconsciously choose to downplay any good news about race relations in this country. Stories such as this go against the blacks-as-eternal-victims script that is so ingrained in the minds of a lot of journalists, so they spin it in a way that confirms their worldview. (And Reuters should have said “past 20 years,” not “last 20 years.” Sorry. It’s a copy-desk thing.) Maybe this guy can enlighten us.

Media Minded
December 4, 2002

© 2002 Media Minder. Used with permission.

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 Volume 2.16 This View’s Guest Column December 23, 2002 

The View from the Core, and all original material, © 2002 E. L. Core. All rights reserved.

Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”