Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

ISSN: 2165-7912

Open Access

Coverage of Black versus White Males in Local Television News Lead Stories


Trina T Creighton, Curtis L Walker and Mark R Anderson

As far back as the early 1990s scholars have analyzed how some television news stations have disproportionately portrayed Black males as notorious lawbreakers, while White males are significantly more likely to be depicted as heroes, defenders of all that is righteous, or the perpetual “good guys.” As a result of those early articles many other researchers have examined the prevalence of such reporting as well as the impact it has on Black males as well as society. Most of those studies have focused on the entire newscasts coverage of big city television markets, like Chicago or New York. No study has performed a similar analysis on the lead news story. Nebraska has recently been designated as the “most dangerous place in America to be Black.” Nebraska received that title even though it has an extremely small Black population, 4.8%, most of whom live in Omaha, the state’s largest city. This research looks at how Omaha’s four local television network affiliates-ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox-portray Black males versus White males in their lead or first stories of their newscasts. A team of coders evaluated three-months of newscasts from each station. The statistical findings are clear: crime-related stories account for more than 60% of lead news stories in Omaha, and Black males were featured in the primary crime story subject nearly 70% of the time even though crime statistics show that Blacks are only responsible for 31% of arrests during the same 3-month period.


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