QUOTE: “You see a black family, it says they’re looting. You see a white family, it says
they’re looking for food.” Tania Ralli
Two photos shot in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina, exploded the debate yet again on stereotyping, with the news media being no exception. Newspapers, television and magazines, the so called modern mirror in every man’s life, are blamed for encouraging stereotypes and glamorising the jigs in the process.
The first photo, taken by Dave Martin, an Associated Press photographer shows a young black man wading through water…clutching a case of soda and pulling a floating bag. The caption provided by The A.P. says he has just been ”looting a grocery store.” (Ralli- 640-641).
The second photo, was taken by Chris Graythen for Getty Images and distributed by Agence France-Presse and shows a white couple in the above context.. Their caption says ‘‘after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store.” (Ralli- 640-641)
Mr. Martin had seen the man in his photograph wade into a grocery store and come out with the sodas and bag, so by A.P‘s definition the man had looted. (Ralli 641). While Mr. Graythen said that he was not able to talk to the couple, ‘so I had to draw my own conclusions'” (Ralli 641).
Many thought that the photos had the cliché of being racist. But since the photos came from two different agencies it does not prove their prejudice. However after reading the account of both the photographers it was necessarily evident that stereotypes have penetrated deep in the media skin. Both of them had witnessed the same incident but the only difference seems to be the colour of individual skin that had eventually affected their judgements.
In the aftermath of hurricane, it was obvious that both the photos showed individuals who were trying to gather food and water- the basic needs for survival. So why would the question of ‘loot’ come in the minds of the photographers? Was the black man carrying electronic goods or in that case gold from the neighbourhood stores? So why in the circumstances of life and death the young man was blamed of looting a store? Does it not signify the stereotype that has eaten the basic foundation of journalism and media insights? Does it not point a clear finger in the intentions and contentions of a man based on the basis of colour? Well, media is better defined as a hype, where the facts are demurred and glorified as per their TRP (Television rating Points) or the newspaper circulation statistics – they also often instigate these popular stereotypes to create a hustle in the market and also make a conscious attempt to give public what they think they want.
On Covers of Many Magazines, a Full Racial Palette is Still Rare” David Carr, p. 649.
Another stereotype of media paranoia is the use of white models in the cover pages of their magazine. The essay entitled “On Covers of Many Magazines, a Full Racial Palette is Still Rare” by David Carr, discloses the alarming racial indignity suffered by generation of magazine publishers. They still typify beauty in the ‘blonde’ style and refuse to acknowledge the beauty of spirit and personality.
The article was written in 2002 when Halle Berry featured as the cover page model of Cosmopolitan. There was a huge fuss created by the media – because a non white model had hit the stands after quite a while. Yes, it was shock of a life indeed. Halle Berry was not only the fifth black woman to appear on the cover of cosmopolitan, but also the fifth black women to appear on cover after a span of thirty eight years. (Carr 649)