Election 2008: The Press and the Profundity of Race

Pamela Newkirk, associate professor of journalism, New York University

Pamela Newkirk PosterTuesday, November 11, 2008
Stern Center, Great Room – 7:00 p.m.

Co-sponsored by the Andrews Fund.

Reception to follow sponsored by the Central PA Alumni Club.

Topical Background

In one of the most electrified and contested presidential elections in history, the American public faced daily bombardment of the latest statistics, allegations and controversies for more than a year by pollsters, pundits, analysts and journalists alike. But what was the role of race in the media coverage of the 2008 presidential election, and how might it have shaped popular opinion or fueled racial divisions?

Religion, race and gender have always played significant roles in America’s development. To say that the 2008 presidential election was historic is now a cliché. President-elect Barack Obama confronted (and continues to face) the issues of race that were left unresolved by our founding fathers and has persisted as a malignancy in the body politic ever since.
The media reported on an issue that has been debated for decades in elections featuring Black candidates: the “Bradley effect.” Tom Bradley was a former African-American mayor of Los Angeles who narrowly lost the 1982 California governor’s race to Republican George Deukmejian despite pre-election polls showing him ahead by large margins. Reporters openly speculated that this might occur in the fiery 2008 election.
Experts are likely to analyze this year’s election in an effort to better understand race and racism in the United States. A portion of those discussions will center on the media’s coverage of the election.

About the Speaker
Pamela Newkirk is an associate professor of journalism at New York University and the author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media, which was awarded the National Press Club Award for Media Criticism. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Media Studies Journal, and The Nation.
Prior to joining the faculty at New York University, Professor Newkirk worked at four different newsrooms, including New York Newsday, where she was part of a Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporting team. Her forthcoming book, Letters From Black America, will be published in February 2009. In the classroom and in her research, she concentrates on urban issues, politics, and the history of minorities in the media.
Newkirk received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from New York University, her Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University where she is also a doctoral candidate.