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Kerner Commission

There’s A Lot Of Jubilance And Healing In Reparations’

The 1968 Kerner Commission report didn’t just say that US journalists were mistelling the reality of recent civil unrest in Newark and Detroit and elsewhere. They declared that that coverage was only part of a broader media failure to “report adequately on the causes and consequences of civil disorders, and the underlying problems of race relations.” And the report linked that failure to the industry’s abysmal record in seeking out, hiring, training and promoting Black people. For those that remember Kerner, that’s where it seemed to end. But actually, the report didn’t say more Black journalists were the answer. It said that affirmative action was a necessary part of the process of de-centering US reporting’s white male view. It wasn’t just about making newsrooms look different. It was about changing the definition of news as being only, or primarily, about white men, and about doing that for the good of everybody.
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