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Within the Veil

Black Journalists, White Media

Pamela Newkirk

Publication Year: 2000

Winner of the National Press Club Prize for Media Criticism.

Companion website: http://www.nyupress.nyu.edu/authors/veil.html

Thirty years ago, the Kerner Commission Report made national headlines by exposing the consistently biased coverage afforded African Americans in the mainstream media. While the report acted as a much ballyhooed wake-up call, the problems it identified have stubbornly persisted, despite the infusion of black and other racial minority journalists into the newsroom.

In Within the Veil, Pamela Newkirk unmasks the ways in which race continues to influence reportage, both overtly and covertly. Newkirk charts a series of race-related conflicts at news organizations across the country, illustrating how African American journalists have influenced and been denied influence to the content, presentation, and very nature of news.

Through anecdotes culled from interviews with over 100 broadcast and print journalists, Newkirk exposes the trials and triumphs of African American journalists as they struggle in pursuit of more equitable coverage of racial minorities. She illuminates the agonizing dilemmas they face when writing stories critical of blacks, stories which force them to choose between journalistic integrity, their own advancement, and the almost certain enmity of the black community.

Within the Veil is a gripping front-line report on the continuing battle to integrate America's newsrooms and news coverage.

Published by: NYU Press

Within the Veil


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xiii

The print media is in what many view as a death struggle with the more dramatic communication forums of television and now the Internet. The casualties include literally hundreds of papers and consolidation of many that remain. At present, a handful of publishing...

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pp. xv

The support of so many people was vital to the successful completion of this project. I would like especially to acknowledge Denise Stinson for guiding me through the proposal and seeing early on what others could not; Marie Brown for her cheerleading and soothing...

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pp. xvii-xxi

Since my first by-line in the high school newspaper I have been enthralled with journalism because of the opportunity it gave me to effect change and increase understanding. Many of the people I most admired throughout my formative years were crusading reporters...


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pp. xxiii-xxviii

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Chapter One: Within the Veil

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pp. 1-37

In 1994, Time magazine correspondent Sylvester Monroe proposed a story on Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, whose appeal, he argued, was far more complex than the media had portrayed. Monroe noted Farrakhan’s popularity among blacks across class and ideological lines, drawn to his passionate brew of rage and pride and...

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Chapter Two: Into the Mainstream

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pp. 38-68

The quest by Africans in America to be portrayed with dignity in an American press that, from its genesis, reflected society’s view of black inferiority, has been a protracted and sometimes violent struggle that has always been rooted in racial strife. Many look to the 1960s as the period when African Americans began to influence the...

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Chapter Three: The Bumpy Road into the Newsroom

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pp. 69-96

The findings in March 1968 of the National Commission on Civil Disorders exploded like a bomb at news stands around the country. After a year of study, the presidential panel unflinchingly blamed systemic white racism and decades of discrimination in housing, employment, and education for the festering black rage that erupted...

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Chapter Four: Slaying the Dragon

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pp. 97-135

On April 15, 1987, in a verdict that rocked the news industry, a six-member federal jury determined that the New York Daily News discriminated against four African American journalists who, because of their race, were given less important assignments, lower salaries, and fewer promotions than their white counterparts. The jury, comprised...

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Chapter Five: Private Dilemmas, Public Strife

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pp. 136-160

Dorothy Gaiter was at her desk in the Miami Herald newsroom, reading, as she did each week, the city’s black weekly newspaper when she spotted her name in a column. The director of the Urban League of Greater Miami wrote in his weekly Miami Times column that he had created the “Nigger of the Year Award” and that Gaiter...

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Chapter Six: Double Standards and the “Double-Special Burden”

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pp. 161-190

On September 28, 1980, the Washington Post led the front page with a chilling story entitled “Jimmy’s World,” which chronicled the tragic life of an eight-year old, third-generation drug addict born into a life of spiraling dysfunction. According to the article, written by Janet Cooke, an ambitious twenty-five-year-old African...

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Chapter Seven: The Kerner Legacy

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pp. 191-220

If, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, one were to judge the news industry’s racial progress by the impressive titles held by African Americans, then it would score high marks indeed. In 1998, Mark Whitaker, a veteran Newsweek writer and editor and...


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pp. 221-223


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pp. 225-235


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pp. 237-252

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About the Author

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pp. 253

Pamela Newkirk is Assistant Professor of Journalism at New York University. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the Nation, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Artnews.

E-ISBN-13: 9780814759134
E-ISBN-10: 0814759130
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814757994
Print-ISBN-10: 0814757995

Page Count: 284
Publication Year: 2000