Study shows racial bias in media coverage of celebrity domestic violence

January 5, 2016

Athletes, musicians and actors who commit acts of domestic violence continue to face heightened scrutiny, and new research from the University of Maryland reveals that the news coverage of such cases is often racially biased.

The study examined 330 news articles, covering approximately 66 celebrities between 2009 and 2011, to extract disparities between the reporting of celebrity offenses. 

"The are attributed to two mechanisms," said Joanna Pepin, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology and the author of the study. "First, when the media reports on , men's violence is more likely to be portrayed as a criminal act when the celebrity is black than when the celebrity is white."

Earlier research has demonstrated that are overrepresented as criminal suspects in the media compared to whites. Pepin's study found strikingly similar results in articles covering celebrity domestic violence. Black men were presented as criminals (citing arrest information, details of official charges, and mentioning ' involvement) more often than . She discovered these mentions occurred three times more often when authors reported on black male celebrities than when they reported on white male celebrities.

"Secondly, reports are more likely to include excuses for men's violence against women when the coverage is of a white celebrity than when the celebrity is black," explained Pepin.

Her study further revealed that articles were two and a half times more likely to include excuses for men's violence against their female partners when reporting on white celebrities than when covering black celebrities. Authors were also more likely to suggest white men's violent behavior resulted from a mutual conflict and to excuse their violence due to mitigating circumstances, such as inebriation.

"This is a surprising finding," said Pepin. "Some research suggests black men are more likely to be shown as addicts or prone to violent anger but I found these depictions most often in about white men. White celebrities benefited by highlighting substance abuse and anger as an excuse for violence while escaping the stigmatization of being deemed an addict or criminal."

Explore further: Black athletes stereotyped negatively in media compared to white athletes

More information: Joanna Rae Pepin. Nobody's business? White male privilege in media coverage of intimate partner violence, Sociological Spectrum (2015). DOI: 10.1080/02732173.2015.1108886

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Squirrel
not rated yet Jan 05, 2016
Serious methodological flaw: I checked up the article and it confounds individuals that were "Pro Sports" and "Black". Its sample of "Black" was 72% Pro sport--"White" was only 16%. There was also a large difference in average: "Black" 32 and "White" 42.5 yrs. Younger celebrities and professional sportsmen will be reported differently to those that are not. Joanna Rae Pepin made no attempt to statistically control for these differences suggesting she lacks a grasp of elementary statistics (anyone outside sociology would give its stats a "D"). "Using the perspective of hegemonic masculinity" and "critical discourse analysis" is no substitute for doing what students in proper scientific fields get taught in first year. The study is worthless.
classicplastic
not rated yet Jan 06, 2016
Serious methodological flaw: I checked up the article and it confounds individuals that were "Pro Sports" and "Black". Its sample of "Black" was 72% Pro sport--"White" was only 16%. There was also a large difference in average: "Black" 32 and "White" 42.5 yrs. Younger celebrities and professional sportsmen will be reported differently to those that are not. Joanna Rae Pepin made no attempt to statistically control for these differences suggesting she lacks a grasp of elementary statistics (anyone outside sociology would give its stats a "D"). "Using the perspective of hegemonic masculinity" and "critical discourse analysis" is no substitute for doing what students in proper scientific fields get taught in first year. The study is worthless.

Agreed.

No mention, either, of from where these articles were drawn. Just 330 out of countless thousands? Sounds like she's living in an echo chamber chamber to me.

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