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REACH Media Analysis Project: British news coverage of young black men and boys

Grant Holders: Kerry MooreDr Stephen Cushion, Dr John Jewell
Researchers: Lucy Bennett, Liezel Longboan, Max Pettigrew and Darren Kelsey
Funder: Race, Cohesion and Faiths Research Unit, Department for Communities and Local Government
Project Duration: 2008 to 2009 (The research findings published 2011)

Aims and Objectives

This project explores current representations of black boys and young men in UK national media. It focuses particularly upon measuring the extent of negative stereotyping of these groups evident across the mainstream news, current affairs and factual programmes. Importantly, it explores, in depth, the patterns and key characteristics of this coverage across these and other media forms. It presents evidence generated from rigorous media monitoring research that would be valuable for policy makers and others wishing to challenge negative stereotypes and to contribute to more positive media representations of young black men and boys.

Our systematic media analyses provide a robust evidential base for understanding the manner and extent to which young black men and boys are portrayed in the news media, but they also contribute to a better understanding of how those portrayals are constructed. As such, the research strengthens the evidence base underpinning the REACH programme (2008-9) and could feed into measures designed to evaluate REACH and its role-modelling scheme. More broadly, our study provides a baseline for further research into the topic inviting possible longitudinal studies to measure coverage over a more extended time period. Thus, our data could be used for future Government and non-governmental schemes concerned with the role and influence of news media images of black boys and young black men.

Our key questions include:

  • Overall, what is the extent and nature of coverage of young black boys and men across a range of UK national news media over 2008-9?
  • Do some forms of news media (TV news, say, rather than press) provide a more accurate or positive assessment of young black boys and men? What would a regular newspaper reader or television viewer be likely to learn about the role and behaviour of young black boys and men in different news media?
  • Is the information provided about young black boys and men even-handed and accurate over the course of the monitoring period? Our assessment here includes an examination of topics covered, sources used, story prominence and length, as well as the extent to which factual information about the behaviour of young black boys and men is explained.
  • To what extent has the REACH programme been reported across a range of news media and what is the nature of this coverage? We focus here on the specific role modelling campaign by REACH and whether it has influenced any media stereotyping or prejudice identified in our study.
  • Finally, when identifying if any positive examples of coverage relate to the reporting of young black men, we ask how this might inform a set of ‘best practice’ recommendations that future campaigns like REACH can draw upon to develop communication strategies.

Outputs: Media representations of black young men and boys - Report of the REACH media monitoring project