Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stereotypes create distorted impressions about The Bronx

Students log video after shooting peace-themed stories
By Steven Youngblood

(Bronx, NY)--On the surface, you wouldn’t think that places like Lebanon (my previous peace journalism seminar) and the Bronx (my current seminar) have much in common.

However, as today’s discussion revealed, both places suffer from the same stereotype-fueled, negative media narrative. I asked my students today to list stereotypes about the Bronx. Without hesitation, they rattled off several dozen, including that the Bronx is violent, the hood, the ghetto, it has no culture, it’s all Hispanic, it’s dirty, stinky, and burned down, it’s all projects, the people are uneducated, on welfare, drug addicts, unwed young mothers, high school dropouts, all immigrants and gang bangers, etc.

The dominant stereotype of Lebanon, of course, is that it is violent--a stereotype it shares with the Bronx.

Students get ready for a peace journalism bootcamp shoot
Here and in Lebanon, I discussed with the young journalists the importance of being aware of all stereotypes, since these are inherently inaccurate. Stereotypes are generalizations, which while true in some cases, are never true in all cases. Yes, some here in the Bronx are poor, on drugs, and single mothers, However, these negative realities are just part of the story here, 10 pages of a 100 page book. I challenged the journalists to not fall into the trap of reporting only those stories which confirm the stereotypes, but instead to break out of the norm and seek compelling stories which give a more complete, contextually correct of the Bronx and its people.

Towards that end, the young reporters were sent out today to produce video packages that dispel these stereotypes. One group is producing a story debunking myths about uneducated Bronx residents, while another is telling a story about the “real” personality of Bronx residents.

If accuracy is the centerpiece of good journalism, as it should be, the reporting being done today reflects not some radical model of reporting, but instead sound, fundamental journalism.

No comments:

Post a Comment