By Carmen Simon
After the killing of a Black man named George Floyd, protests erupted around the globe. A few weeks before that, Ahmaud Arbery, another Black man, was killed while jogging and his story spread on social media. The protests spread across all 50 states and peaked in May and June which led some protesters and police forces to resort to violence. Although many protests have shrunk dramatically in size since then, they are still going on, and a majority of them are peaceful.
The press has been mostly reporting on the violent protests while the peaceful ones tend to get much less coverage. This is leading to two main issues: people don’t know that the peaceful protests are happening anywhere, and when they hear about any kind of protesting they assume it will be violent.
The main issue with the press is that they tend to only report on things that their readers are interested in. At the beginning of the summer, the protests were covered a lot because readers were interested due to the violence and it was a new trending topic. The interest died down as time went on and the press stopped talking about how peaceful protests were continuing all over the country. Because most newspapers and magazines are looking to widen their viewership, they decide to give the people what they want instead of talking about issues in the world and spreading information which is the job of the press.
Within the topic of protesting, it has gotten bad enough that people don’t know peaceful protests are happening at all. The news had not talked about the Black Lives Matter movement at all until riots broke out in Portland and protesters started getting put into unmarked vans by Customs and Border Protection. This led many people to believe that only violent protests were happening and propagated a false narrative.
This is not only harmful for getting people to come to the protests, but also getting the right people to go. Parents no longer want to go for fear of them or their children getting hurt, and are no longer motivated to try and make change.
The way the press chooses what to report on is based simply on their readers’ interest. That causes the media to only show protests when they become violent. This leads many viewers to believe that only riots are actively going on—that peaceful protests aren’t happening anywhere. There needs to be change in how the media determines what gets coverage. Because media outlets are trying to gain readers, what is chosen to be covered is based on the viewers’ interest.
The job of the press is to show the public what is happening in the world, but when only so-called ‘interesting’ or ‘exciting’ stories are published, lesser known subjects get glossed over or not covered at all. More newspapers need to be talking about how peaceful protests are happening as they have a responsibility to the public. Without their help, nobody will come to protests except rioters and these protests will look much more violent than they actually are.