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Marcus Jones reports on negative media coverage of the Roxbury community
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Program:
[Media coverage of the Roxbury neighborhood]
Original Airdate: 9/12/1990

Length: 00:04:12
Item Type: newstape - edited story master


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Full Description

1:00:25
Visual: Footage of news reports from local TV stations. John Henning (WBZ news anchor) reports on the murder of a woman in the city. Natalie Jacobson (WCVB news anchor) reports on a police search for suspects in two Roxbury shootings. Shot of police searching two suspects who are lying face down on a sidewalk. R.D. Sahl (WHDH news anchor) reports on growing outrage in Roxbury. Shot of a woman being taken from a home on a stretcher. Shots of police cruisers on the streets of Roxbury at night. Shot of an injured person in an ambulance; of police at a crime scene cordoned off by yellow tape. Shot of an African American man leaving a police station.

Marcus Jones reports that media coverage of the Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan neighborhoods focus on images of violence, drugs, and murder. Jones reports that Brian Wright O'Connor (Managing Editor, The Bay State Banner) believes that the media does not provide an accurate portrayal of life in Roxbury. Jones notes that O'Connor lives in a quiet section of the Roxbury neighborhood.

V: Shot of Jones and O'Connor walking through a quiet park.
Footage of O'Connor saying that criminal activity should be covered by the media; that the media uses questionable tactics in covering crime. O'Connor says that the media often stretches its definition of the term "news." O'Connor questions if there is balanced news coverage of the greater Roxbury area. O'Connor says that the media come to Roxbury to cover crime; that the media comes to Roxbury to cover reactions of local residents to comments by white politicians.
Footage of William Celester (Deputy Superintendent, Boston Police Department) saying that media coverage creates the wrong perceptions about the community. Celester says that negative perceptions did not begin with the comments of John Silber (Democratic candidate for governor of Massachusetts). Celester says that the negative perceptions need to be changed.
Footage from WCVB of Justice on Trial. The footage shows Joe Lally (Boston Police Department) walking toward a city courthouse. The narrator says that Lally is "the only symbol of civilization left on many city streets."

Marcus Jones reports that Silber has accused the media of twisting his words; that Silber says that the media has skewed perceptions of reality in Area B neighborhoods. Jones notes that Silber accused Mike Barnacle (columnist) of giving a skewed portrayal of life in many neighborhoods.

V: Shot of Mike Barnacle interviewing a white man outside of a building. Footage of Barnacle walking along a sidewalk. Barnacle compares the neighborhood to a "shooting gallery."

Jones reports that he interviewed Barnacle by telephone. Jones reports that Barnacle says that he feels no obligation to balance negative coverage of a neighborhood with positive coverage. Jones notes that Barnacle could not recall the number of columns he has written this summer with positive coverage of the neighborhoods in Area B.

V: Footage from a WGBH/Frontline documentary called Street Cop. A plain-clothes police officer rides through a housing development. The officer says that the neighborhood is a tough place. The officer says that he would probably end up selling drugs if he were a poor, African American teenager in this neighborhood. Footage from Street Cop of white, plain-clothes police officers breaking down the door of an apartment with sledgehammers. A police officer reaches down the shirt of an old woman to look for drugs.

Jones notes that WGBH/Frontline produced a documentary called Street Cop three years ago; that the documentary was accused of using negative stereotypes of crime in Roxbury. Jones reports that politicians and community leaders have spoken out against media bias in the wake of the Carol Stuart murder.

V: Shots of newspaper articles with headlines about the suspect in the Stuart case.
Footage of Michael Dukakis (Governor of Massachusetts) speaking at a press conference on April 11, 1990. Dukakis says that there are thousands of good kids in the community; that the media gives all of the news coverage to the 500 bad kids. Bernard Cardinal Law (Archidiocese of Boston) is seated behind Dukakis.
Footage of O'Connor being interviewed by Jones. Jones asks if the media focus on crime leads to a reduction in crime. O'Connor says that the community has been stereotyped by the media; that negative stereotypes reduce the political will to address the underlying socio-economic problems. O'Connor says that these negative stereotypes imply that the citizens of the community are morally defective or undeserving of aid. O'Connor says that the biased media coverage is "pernicious." O'Connor says that the negative media coverage allows people with resources to turn away from the community. O'Connor notes that two large companies scrapped their plans to build facilities in Roxbury in the wake of the Stuart murder. O'Connor says that the two companies could have provided jobs for at-risk teenagers in the community.


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