Media plays a significant role in the development of any society, which has made it to be referred to as the fourth estate in some countries. According to Weitzer and Tuch (50), media comes in fourth after the executive, parliament and the judiciary. It is the watchdog that citizens can turn to in cases when they believe that they are being denied access to the right information from the top three government bodies. However, the same media has in many occasions been characterized with bias, which has always manifested in many forms. This occurs when information is falsely presented or is distorted to appear different from the original. Racial bias in media is seen as the most fatal form of bias as it causes unjust attitude towards the group that is misrepresented in the media.
Racial bias in media has led to some people being denied important facilities like health care, education, and employment. Unfortunately, media has continued to promote negative racial sentiments, which influence the daily lives of the minority groups in a society. Because the content of the media helps in building the psychological, economic and social structure of a society, racial bias in the media may result in oppression, prejudice or discrimination of one group of people by the other. This paper, therefore, seeks to explore how racial bias in media helps in perpetuating economic, social, political and cultural inequalities among a people that are viewed as belonging to a different race in a society. It shows how media stereotyping of people contributed to their marginalization and denial of human rights in connection with racial differences.
The Race Factor in Media
According to Weitzer & Tuch (50), racial orientation has been the subject of scholarly studies for many years. Many media houses have used mechanisms in terms of affirmative action in an effort to counteract the devastating effects of racial bias that always crops up in news gathering and reporting. An example is affirmative action in media, which has been viewed as form of bias since one group is given precedence over the other. This has been interpreted to mean white supremacy in many countries like the U.S. However, some analysts have argued that racial bias in media cuts across the board noting that there are certain cases in which media has always come out clearly in support of the black people against the white people (Weitzer & Tuch 45).
On the other hand, the same media has played an important role in transforming societies rooted in racial or tribal hierarchy into conventional ones with overwhelming success. Reportedly, Merskin (54) notes that racial bias in media is found in mainstream media, which are supposed to be on the frontline in enhancing human rights. Weitzer & Tuch (45) argue that even though these mainstream media have made important steps in confronting racial factors in their reporting, they still have a long way to go. This is indicated even by the composition of leadership of these media corporate and workforce, which in themselves reflect bias towards certain races.
Unfortunately, movements for media democracy have failed to raise the interest and attract attention from the communities that allegedly are discriminated by the media itself. Merskin (58) observes that the coverage of crime by media sometimes is exaggerated and unduly connected to the youth and race. Consequently, this can only increase the juvenile crime among the youth of a certain race. It is evident that media bias and youth crime are intertwined and this only makes discrimination worse. Media bias is the result of the large a number of media companies being owned by people of the same race origin. According to Weitzer & Tuch (45), this is what has killed media democracy, which is majorly dependent on the goodwill of the same media owners.
Racial Bias in Media and Crime
Goldberg (120) says that racial bias in media has led to the increase in the participation of people of the affected races in criminal activities. This is supported by Goldberg (120) who conducted a study that had shown that a good portion of offenders reported in the media are people, who have racially been discriminated and thus the mention of their identity becomes synonymous with criminal activities. He indicates that the study further indicates that such cultural synonyms create a social arrangement of racial inequalities where a certain race is treated with prejudice, probably the one viewed as criminal.
Racial Bias in Media and Politics
Political landscape in every country is largely shaped by the route taken by the media. For instance, Goldberg (46) observes that racial bias was evident when media shifted from a liberal bias to crass partisanship as agents for Barack Obama, which gave Obama a landslide victory over his opponent.
In other instances, racial bias has been used in the media to sway votes towards people, who are seen as belonging to the correct race. This has been achieved by the media through misrepresenting information about a certain candidate to influence the views of the public. Goldberg (140) reports the observation by Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had stated that media had always portrayed black people as less intelligent than the whites.
From the discussion above, it is evident that media influences every part of a society and hence the need to have a balanced reporting that gives equal treatment to all races is vital. However, this trend seemed to change when, for instance, the US united in 2008 to vote for a black president.