“Unless We’re Singing or Dancing, We Are Not Going to Be Represented in the Media”: Stereotyping of African Americans in Penn State Student News Coverage

Open Access
Author:
Collins, Alexis
Area of Honors:
Journalism
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Russell Frank, Thesis Supervisor
  • Russell Frank, Honors Advisor
  • Will H Yurman, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • African Americans
  • Diversity
  • Journalism
  • Staff
  • Coverage
  • The Paper
  • Student Media
  • Media
  • Newsroom
  • United States
  • Penn State University
Abstract:
African American students at the Pennsylvania State University whose voices were heard in the 2007 documentary "The Paper" felt underrepresented on the news staff of the campus’ student newspaper, and mischaracterized in the paper’s news coverage. I wanted to find out how much things have changed, if at all, in the past decade or more. It is widely accepted in the journalism world that news coverage should not be biased and that a diverse staff helps in that effort, specifically in terms of increasing coverage and being aware of unconscious biases that reporters may have. This research is grounded in the efforts of national media platforms to better portray African Americans to the public and increase staff diversity. Furthermore, this thesis examines whether the coverage of African American students by Penn State student media organizations reflect a lack of diversity on their staffs.