Race With History

Race with History – May 2, 2005

When the U.S. first faced the question of what role millions of free African-Americans should play in society, the news press was itself in transition. The popular "penny-press" was beginning to replace newspapers that were connected to political parties. The change would bring new standards to the news media. As journalism became a distinct profession, it aspired to a new model that increasingly valued accuracy and objectivity as more important to the public good than journalistic allegiance to political parties or causes. Similarly, the newly "independent" news media claimed to be more "fair" and "balanced" than its "biased" partisan rivals. Yet, over the next 90 years, journalists would champion both white supremacy and racial equality. What can this history of media racism and racial advocacy teach us about the press today? This special discussion-starter program covers the entire time sweep of the episodes in Between Civil War and Civil Rights.

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