New tool launched to tackle media bias

Over-the-shoulder close up of man reading news on mobile phone
Over-the-shoulder close up of man reading news on mobile phone

Our media survey of black people living in Southampton revealed that less than 40% know how to complain about racist media coverage, despite often seeing it.

Three quarters (75%) said local news coverage of black people was negatively biased and the majority stated that the media was more likely to cover stories about black people that were crime, violence or drugs related.

More than three quarters (77.8%) said they don’t feel fairly and accurately represented in local news coverage.

When asked how this made them feel, respondents admitted they felt “depressed”, “under-represented”, “sad, misunderstood and stereotyped”, “concerned for the younger generation”, and “unwanted, angry and frustrated”. 

The survey revealed a link between the type of coverage and people’s wellbeing: on seeing a positive local black story, respondents said it made them feel “fantastic and included”, “uplifted and proud” and “inspired”. 

In response to our survey findings, we created an online Media Reporting Tool to encourage the city’s residents to report negatively, racially-biased local news coverage.

Our Version Media’s founder, Veronica Gordon, said: “Sometimes things go unchallenged because they go unspoken. With our Media Reporting Tool, we’ll help people to complain and work with local media to stamp out racial biases and stereotyping, and make them aware of how their coverage affects people. And we’ll continue to push for authentic stories from under-represented and misrepresented communities.”

Our Media Reporting Tool is just one of the ways we’re addressing the damage caused by racially-biased media coverage; we also launched a free, weekly online Black Community Coverage Clinic for black community organisation leaders who want help to tell their organisation’s stories and raise the visibility of their projects or cause.

That way we’re equipping people with the skills and confidence to tell their own stories, counteracting the media’s negative portrayals at the same time.