FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 7, 2014                              Media Contact: Gabriela Linder, 702.885.8708

How media bias plays a role in perpetuating negative stereotypes . . .

by: Monique Linder

Minneapolis, MN – In an exclusive interview today with Nekima Levy-Pounds, the conversation focused on the role media plays in perpetuating negative stereotypes (see full interview below).

The conversation took on real meaning when “#pointergate” erupted on social media as a result of a KSTP news story calling out Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges for allegedly showing solidarity with gangs by way of her use of a “gang sign.” Nekima Levy-Pounds, Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and Civil Rights Attorney and Activist posted immediately responded to KSTP’s news story on her Star Tribune blog.

#pointergate has quickly become an internet sensation.

Jezebel: Local news things St Paul Mayor Betsy Hodges is in a gang.

Daily Kos: Pointergate may be the most racist news story of 2014

Vanity Fair: “PointerGate” Is the Most Pathetic News Story of the Week

International Business Times: What Is Pointergate? Twitter Mocks Outrage after Minneapolis Mayor Poses For A Picture With A Felon

The Root: #Pointergate: How A News Station Missed A Story That Twitter Didn’t 

Twin Cities Daily Planet: KSTP Reports Mayor Hodges Flashing Gang Sign Social Media Erupts Anger

Today, Nekima Levy-Pounds released a video statement sharing her views on the KSTP-TV news coverage.

Interview with Nekima Levy-Pounds on November 7, 2014

Monique: How do we use this really low point in KSTP’s news coverage to bring awareness and change to the bias and negative stereotypes that exists in media today?

Nekima: We can use this as a teachable moment. Every media outlet across this country should examine its practices to ensure that implicit bias is not playing a role in how stories are covered and how people of color are being portrayed in the media. It is time to reevaluate how news is delivered and to reach for a higher standard in media coverage that is inclusive and not racially divisive. It is important that media outlets create environments that are inclusive of viewpoints of individuals from diverse racial and ethnic perspectives.

Monique: In your role as a regular contributor to media outlets regarding stories that involve race or civil rights issues in the Twin Cities, do you see diversity when you enter local newsrooms?

Nekima: Typically, the newsrooms are lily white. In most organizations there may be one or two folks of color who are delivering news, but rarely are they given decision-making power of how news is being reported and the framework that is being used. Having a dearth of diverse perspectives is a recipe for disaster in a country as diverse as the U.S.A. Nuances in stories are bound to be missed and racial stereotypes are likely to be reinforced in the process of having an all-white or nearly all white newsroom.

Monique: As the President of the Alliance for Women in Media, Minnesota Affiliate, advocating for the growth of women in media, what does gender balance look like in the newsroom today compared to ten years ago?

Nekima: Newsrooms are still disproportionately made up of white men. Gender balance is vital to ensure balanced coverage of topics important to the general population. Based upon their life experience, women have a unique perspective that can enhance news coverage and decision-making. Women of color in media add a whole other dimension that is largely untapped.

Monique: Do you feel that the lack of diversity in the newsroom contributes to media bias and stereotypes, as well as, inaccuracies in content delivery as it pertains to the diverse communities of Minnesota?

Nekima:  Absolutely. A lack of diversity in newsrooms may contribute to an environment in which people from homogenous backgrounds make decisions that are more consistent with their own worldview and not necessarily inclusive of the rich culture that exists in this country of people from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. The current lens that is being used is too narrow in scope and leaves much to be desired.

Monique: What are the top 3 things that need to happen now to move this process forward to eliminate bias and stereotypes in the media?

Nekima: 1) Work to intentionally diversify newsrooms along the lines of people from different racial backgrounds, greater gender balance, and the inclusion of younger voices as well. 2) Aggressively train staff in becoming more culturally sensitive and culturally competent.  Also, it is important to reward employees who immerse themselves in cultural communities to broaden the scope of their knowledge and coverage of issues impacting communities of color.  3) Set measureable goals to increase reporting of issues that impact communities of color. Not only will this positively impact the bottom lines of media outlets as America becomes more diverse, but it will lead to more positive race relations and increased understanding amongst individuals from different racial and ethnic groups.

Thank you Nekima for your time and expertise on this subject. Stay connected to Nekima @ / FaceBook / Twitter / YouTube

Monique Linder is the founder of OMG Media Solutions who handles media and marketing for Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds.