Media representations of black young men and boys

This report provides an extensive analysis of media coverage of black young men and boys in the British news and current affairs media. The central aim of the research is to understand how the news media represent black young men and boys, and specifically, to consider whether there is evidence of negative stereotyping of black young men and boys in the news media. The report begins by discussing the results of a quantitative analysis of MediaNews stories about young men and boys generally, followed by more detailed analysis of media news stories involving black young men and boys. This is followed by an in-depth qualitative analysis of media stories about black young men and boys related to crime; an analysis of black and minority ethnic media coverage; and finally the results of a series of qualitative interviews with those involved in making and reporting the news. Overall, the dominant discourse surrounding black young men and boys in the news media links them with violent crime, and particularly murders involving knives and/or gangs. While this is clearly a negative media image, no clear or explicit stereotype of black young men or boys was constructed across news reports. In the mainstream news, young men and boys were regularly reported in relation to negative news values, just over 4 in 10 stories being crime-related.

While stories about wider social issues, such as education and health, were not as frequently or prominently reported. However, close to 7 in10 stories of black young men and boys related in some form to crime – a comparatively higher figure than in coverage of young men and boys moregenerally.Violent crime, murders, and gun and knife crime accounted for the majority of crime coverage featuring black young men and boys in the mainstream news, with little context or explanation for the reasons why crime was committed. In gun or knife crime news, the ‘race’ or ethnic background of the young menor boys, as either victims or perpetrators, was rarely explicitly mentioned, butin a small minority of tabloid articles the black identity of young male perpetrators was reported as if relevant to their criminal activities. The magnitude of knife crime as a contemporary social problem involving black young men or boys was emphasized in many articles drawing equivalence between a variety of stories involving knife crime fatalities, which were often very different in circumstance or context.

Full report: Media representations of black young men and boys