Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words To Divide a Nation

. October 2012. 288p. 978-0-23034-182-1. 28.
Citing Trayvon Martin and Sandra Fluke, among others, Deggans (TV & media critic, Tampa Bay Times) explores how using certain words to talk about race, gender, and class colors how people perceive that information. He explains that when cable news pundits, talk-radio personalities, and political bloggers use race-baiting phrases, code words, and overt name calling, they perpetuate stereotypes and confirm prejudices. Suggesting that a young black person wearing a hoodie is probably a gang member and calling a law student a “slut” are examples of how the real concerns of neighborhood crime and women’s health care are drowned out by derogatory images and words. While he theorizes that much of this problem stems from polarizing cable news and talk-radio programs, Deggans shows how other media such as newspapers and network television, as well as the lack of diversity in company hiring practices, also contribute to this divisive political and social discourse. He closes with prescriptions for finding a more productive way to communicate.
VERDICT This insightful analysis is for aspiring journalists, media studies students, and news junkies.

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