Compared to the percentage of crimes they actually commit, African Americans are grossly overrepresented on local news broadcasts about criminal activity, according to a new report from Media Matters for America. In New York City alone, black people make up 75 percent of criminals discussed on local channels, whereas they only make up 51 percent of the actual arrest rate.
Between August and December last year, WABC, WNBC, and WCBS overrepresented black people in theft, assault, and murder coverage. On WABC, WNBC, and WCBS, respectively, 82 percent, 73 percent, and 70 percent of all wrongdoers were black. However, data from 2010-2013, shows that black people only account for 55 percent of murders, 49 percent of assaults, and 55 percent of thefts in the city. Out of all murders covered on WABC, which Media Matters assigned an “F” grade, 78 percent were committed by a black person. Similarly, 82 percent and 85 percent of assaults and thefts, respectively, involved black perpetrators. On average, WNYW/FOX5, which received a “B” rating, reported far fewer criminal incidents than other mainstream outlets, but 100 percent of reported thefts were committed by black perpetrators. (Think Progress)