Media Coverage of Samuel Dubose Shooting Illustrates Why ‘Visuals Matter’

On NBC's "Today" show on Thursday, Ray Tensing is shown in his Cincinnati police uniform alongside Samuel Dubose, the unarmed black man Tensing shot during a July 19 traffic stop.
NBC Screenshot

Were Media Really Out to Make Black People Look Bad?

"If social media has proved one thing, it's that visuals matter. A lot," the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on Friday.


"On Wednesday, national news outlets including NBC and CNN juxtaposed an image of murder suspect Ray Tensing in front of a flag with a police mugshot of shooting victim Samuel DuBose. Tensing was a University of Cincinnati police officer July 19 when he shot and killed the unarmed DuBose during a traffic stop.

"Many social media commentators questioned why a man who's been indicted for the most serious crime would be pictured in a patriotic milieu while a victim was portrayed at one of his life's low points. Among the tweets and Facebook posts are those below. . . ."


The short Enquirer piece went on to ask readers what they thought.

Elsewhere, some had already voiced their opinion. On The Root, the top trending story for some of Thursday was headlined "News Outlets Prove, Once Again, Their Photo Bias When It Comes to Black People Being Killed."


Writer Yesha Callahan stated matter-of-factly, "In the world of news reporting and black people being killed by cops, you can be certain about one thing: Mainstream news outlets seem to find a way to further victimize and show their biases through the images they use of the victims." No one from a news outlet was quoted.

On, Jean Marie Brown added Thursday about NBC's tweet, "The image of DuBose is completely unrelated to the story about how and why he died, and paints DuBose as a dangerous criminal, which supports the police officer's now questionable narrative of being 'in fear for his life.' By looking at this image, if one didn’t know better, we’d think that it was DuBose who was indicted for murder, not Tensing. For the record, Tensing pleaded not guilty Thursday on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the July 19 shooting death of DuBose."


CNN spokeswomen did not respond Friday to requests from Journal-isms for comment, and an NBC spokeswoman said her network declined comment.

But if a chronology by Michael McCarter, interim editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer and a black journalist, is a guide, the egregious tweet by NBC — and perhaps the error by CNN — were more the result of the availability of images and lack of sensitivity by particular employees than malice by "the media."


On NBC's "Today" show, in fact, reporter Rehema Ellis, also a black journalist, used photos of Tensing in his uniform and DuBois in normal streetwear.

McCarter explained how sensitivity to images at his newspaper put the Enquirer on the right side of the photo-selection issue, but also how the availability of images was a complication.


"We did avoid that controversy," McCarter said by email. "I would like to think that it's because a visual editor is currently in the interim executive editor role (smile) but it is much more than that. The only photo available to us of Tensing early on was provided by the University [of Cincinnati, where Tensing worked.] He had not been booked (or charged) and as you can imagine we weren't having much luck getting more than that.

"The DuBose image we used was a lower quality image that one of the photographers photographed during the funeral. One image was on a leaflet taped to the windshield of a car outside the funeral and another was from the funeral program.


"As a practice, we always try to get the most current photo(s) from the family if at all possible.

"A conversation did take place in our newsroom about the booking mug. The question was raised about why we were not using the 'better' image that was all over most media outlets. I noticed the 'better' image (in quality only) was his booking mug. I, along with a few of our editors, made the decision to NOT use a booking mug. It was irrelevant to this story and DuBose was the victim. You have to understand the power of images in situations like this.


"Once we had the booking mug of Tensing, we began the process of swapping that image out on our site and we made sure that his booking mug ran in print. We used other images provided by the family of [DuBose]."

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: The DuBose Family: Grieving, but Determined

James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A traffic stop leads to a fatal shooting


Julianne Malveaux, National Newspaper Publishers Association: For Centuries, Black Lives Did Not Matter

Richard Pérez-Peña and Timothy Williams, New York Times: Glare of Video Is Shifting Public's View of Police


Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Police brutality not just a 'black' problem

Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Taking of black lives leads some to fear good cops


Margaret Talbot, the New Yorker: Watching Sandra Bland

Flawed Racism Claims Miss Another Problem: Should Media Use Mug Shots as the "Best Available Photo"? (April 3)


Native Paper Tired of TV Newscast "Perp Walk" Shots (April 19, 2012)

Black Cop-White Driver Scenario Said to Miss the Point

In demonstrating how to deal with a police officer who stops you on the road, is it all right to use a white motorist and a black officer as your examples?


Jean Marie Brown, writing Thursday for, argued that doing so misses the point of what took place in the cases of Sandra Bland and Samuel DuBose, African Americans who ended up dead after encounters with white officers.

Brown was discussing the "Today" show's "Rossen Report" on Thursday, in which Jeff Rossen and Rochester, N.Y. officer Henry Favor demonstrate the do's and don'ts of responding to police during such stops.


"Videos from police and citizens are prompting media to rethink the relationship between law enforcement and minorities, but the Today Show's Jeff Rossen is stuck in the reality that if you just do what the police say everything will be fine," Brown wrote.

"Today’s Rossen Report reinforced the idea [that] the fault in fatal encounters between police and civilians in traffic stops is always the fault of the dead citizen. Rossen's clip was introduced with video from Sandra Bland's encounter with Texas Trooper Brian Encinia (she later died under suspicious circumstances inside a Texas jail) and former University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing stopping Samuel Dubose.


"Then Rossen goes into helpful mode 'to demonstrate what you are required to do when the police pull you over.' ANSWER: Provide your license and proof of insurance and get out of the car if instructed. In other words, if these people had just behaved, they would be alive. But how can he make such a claim? The video of these stops has given America a glimpse driving while black."

Brown made six additional points, then concluded, "The segment was inane journalism that offered nothing toward a constructive conversation. Worse, it colored the news coverage, suggesting that both Bland and DuBose were responsible for their own deaths."


For Kenyan Radio, an Interview They'll Never Forget

For any journalist, an on-the-record interview with the president of the United States is an achievement. For one from a radio station in Kenya, it was a test of determination.


"As soon as the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, said he would be visiting Kenya in July 2015, the first thought that crossed the mind of every Kenyan media personality was to get an exclusive interview with him," Judie Kaberia wrote Wednesday for Kenya's Capital FM.

"Kenya is a country filled with media running into their hundreds. . . ."

"It all started when Capital TV News Producer Olive Burrows approached the Editorial Director Michael Mumo with persistence that Capital FM needed to get a one-on-one interview with Obama," Kaberia continued.


Kaberia also wrote, "Burrows did not believe she would actually have the interview until on the D-Day.

" 'I was like I will believe it when he walks into the room. I was afraid because of his schedule he may run late and then we may not get the interview. I did not want to have my hopes crushed badly.


"Burrows and the Capital FM team, Francis Mbatha (cameraperson), James Mugo (in charge of the live stream) and Wilson Akello (in Charge of Outside Broadcasts) were at Kenyatta University by 7am on Sunday. The interview was however scheduled to take place at 3.05pm.

"By 11am the set up was complete.

"All that was remaining was for that moment that Obama would walk into the small room with two microphones and two chairs — one for Burrows and the other for Obama.


"There were many phone calls. Many people were calling us and telling us to relax and that it was going to be ok.

" 'But it could not be ok if it is POTUS. It was not an everyday occurrence,' Mbatha recalls.


"The tension kept on building.

"At every event Obama went, he appeared to answer questions we had lined up for him.


"At that point, the Capital FM News team was again cracking their minds to come up with a new set of questions few hours to the interview.

" 'It was a tough interview because we had crafted questions. But from the moment that he came here, he kept answering our questions from one event to another up to the very last one he had with the civil society. It was a bit nerve racking,' Mumo recalled.


"Finally it was 3.05pm.

"Obama walked into the tiny room. Burrows got the surprise of her life when Obama called her by her first name.


" 'We hear the rustle of shoes on the floor — the secret service. Then he walks in. He comes in and says "hi, how are you doing Olive" that blew my head because I was prepared to introduce myself.'

" 'They (Mbatha and Mugo) looked like they were going to collapse. I was very excited.


"When the interview started; 'I was shaking, I was telling myself, "Olive, stop shaking." I got tired from all the nodding, I was nodding like crazy.'

"After the interview, the team was very excited but greatly tensed up when Obama asked his cameramen to take a photo of all of them.


"Mbatha, the cameraman, left his video camera recording, but because of the tension and surprise invite by Obama, he was out of frame.

"In the video, only his right side is captured.

" 'I expected Olive to ask for a selfie, but Obama volunteered himself and said "let's take a photo with your team." '


" 'I forgot I was a cameraman, everything else in my mind; I forgot to focus on where we will be standing, I was cut out from the photo shoot, my video recorded but my hand is there and part of my face,' Mbatha recalled. . . ."

Karen Allen, BBC News, Nairobi:  What has Obama's visit done for Africa?

Major Garrett, CBS News: Freed Ethiopian journalist risks it all to speak out

Aleem Maqbool, BBC News: Young Africans to Obama: 'Clean your own house first'

Argwings Odera, the Journalist, South Africa: Promises + an unusual autograph = date with Barack Obama


Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Why Obama freed his inner 'Kenyan'

ProPublica "Working Hard" to Increase Diversity

"Like many news organizations around the country, ProPublica is working hard to increase the diversity of our workplace . . . ," Lena Groeger and Eric Umansky wrote Friday for ProPublica, the seven-year-old nonprofit website dedicated to investigative reporting.


They went on to declare, "Here's what we're doing[:]"

"One barrier to getting into journalism has long been economic: It's hard to get clips if you're not in a position to take an unpaid internship or to work for free at your college paper. With support from a generous donor, ProPublica has just created the Emerging Reporters Program, which offers grants to college students of color who are interested in doing great journalism.


"Through a new initiative with CUNY Journalism School and the Knight Foundation, we will also be hosting reporting fellows every summer who come from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, or are affiliated with organizations for journalists of color. We pay all our fellows — $700/week — and we always have.

"We also want to recruit as broadly as possible. All our jobs are posted both internally and externally. But more importantly, we've been working to reach beyond our traditional networks for candidates. The best way to judge us on hiring, in the end, is to look at our numbers. . . ."


Latino, Other Groups Want Golfers to Spurn Trump

"Today, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC); the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 40 prominent U.S. Latino advocacy organizations; the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA); the National Association of Latino Independent Producers; the National Immigration Law Center (NILC); American Indians in Film and Television; the New York Immigration Coalition; the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles; Color of Change; 18 Million Rising; and launched a petition urging the LPGA, the USGA, the PGA Tour and the PGA of America to remove all of their future tournaments from Donald Trump's golf courses or risk losing business from all who reject racism," the NHMC announced on Friday.


"As players begin the second day of the LPGA's RICOH Women's British Open in western Scotland today, the coalition is flabbergasted that the golf association has ignored requests to cut ties with Trump and has decided to hold the tournament on Trump Turnberry Resort.

"Trump has yet to apologize for his blanket statement that Mexicans are 'bringing drugs,' are 'bringing crime' and 'are rapists.' He also brought the golf associations into the issue, saying the sport's governing bodies support his opinions because 'they know I’m right.'


"Although the LPGA, the USGA, the PGA Tour and the PGA of America issued a statement distancing themselves from Trump, only the PGA of America has taken any action by cutting one tournament from Trump's Los Angeles course. However, future tournaments remain slated to take place on Trump properties. . . ."

Chris Ariens, TVNewser: Which Network Has Covered Donald Trump the Most?

Esther J. Cepeda, Washington Post Writers Group: On immigration, we can't handle the truth


Editorial, Daily News, New York: For the umpteenth time, Donald Trump proves he's utterly unfit for the presidency: His top attorney Michael Cohen lies about the law, and Trump misstates his net worth

Andrew Kirell, Mediaite: Michael Steele to Joan Walsh: Your Condescending Attitude Is Why Trump’s Popular


Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Gun nut Rick Perry reaches a new low

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Christmas comes early this year — the gift of a Trump-fueled GOP debate


Jose Antonio Vargas Not Done With "White People"

"Hello, hola, kamusta (that's Tagalog for you), my name is Jose Antonio Vargas, and I'm the host and director of White People, a documentary, on, well, white people. Specifically, young white people," Vargas wrote Jan. 23 for


"(Full disclosure: I am not a White People. I am a Gay, Undocumented, Filipino People.)

"If you haven’t watched White People yet, here it is for free.

"Last night, #WhitePeople trended at the #1 spot in America, and #4 globally. I was on Twitter watching and tweeting along with everyone, and there have been a lot of interesting responses. I noticed a few common types:

"1. You're being divisive. . . . .

"2. Who cares about what white people have to say?

"3. The timing is suspicious.


"4. The film doesn’t go far enough. . . .

"Totally agree with this one. . . . We want to have a conversation about everything — from #BlackLivesMatter to Asian Playboys to Hapas (look it up) to Homo Cholos (again, look it up) to White People. It's going to get weird, and it's going to get uncomfortable. But it has to, if things are going to get better, if we are to understand each other better.


"It's all happening in September, at . . .

J. Weston Phippen, National Journal: Latinos Are Everywhere, Except on TV. What's going on?


MSNBC'S Afternoon Lineup Is History

"The cable network MSNBC is getting a long-awaited shake-up to its daytime lineup," John Koblin reported Thursday for the New York Times.


."The network’s president, Phil Griffin, told staff members on Thursday that three shows in its afternoon schedule, 'The Cycle,' 'Now With Alex Wagner' and 'The Ed Show,' would all be canceled. The last shows will be Friday.

"Mr. Griffin said that 'The Ed Show' host, Ed Schultz, along with 'The Cycle' hosts Krystal Ball, Abby Huntsman and Touré, would all be leaving the network.


"Ms. Wagner will stay with the network, as will another 'Cycle' host, Ari Melber, who will remain MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent. . . ."

Dylan Byers added Thursday for Politico:

"In his memo to staff, Griffin said MSNBC would 'unveil a 9am to 5pm schedule' in September 'driven by dynamic coverage of breaking news events that are shaping the day' — a clear indication that daytime will be free from opinion-based programming. Throughout his memo, Griffin referred to MSNBC daytime as a place for 'live, breaking news coverage.'


"As part of the shift, [NBC News Chairman AndrewLack has informed staff that there will be greater integration between NBC News and MSNBC, befitting the original vision for the channel he founded as president of NBC News in 1996. MSNBC's primetime programming — which includes shows hosted by Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and Lawrence O'Donnell — is expected to remain liberal and outspoken. . . ."

The Rev. Al Sharpton's "PoliticsNation," which airs at 5 p.m. ET, was not mentioned.


Whoops! Who Saw That Negro League Statues Were Gone?

"How many Pirates fans even noticed that the seven bronze statues honoring the great Negro League stars are gone from PNC Park?" Brian O'Neill asked Thursday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


"If you want to see Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, 'Cool Papa' Bell and Oscar Charleston now, you'll have to get an appointment with the gent who owns the Sports Museum of Los Angeles. Gary Cypres just spent $132,250 in an auction that will send those four statues west. The other three went for a combined $94,700 to other bidders.

"The life-size statues once lined the left field gate entrance to PNC Park. They arrived with some fanfare just before the All-Star Game in 2006, but largely unreported went the Pirates' announcement this past April that Legacy Square was to be 'refreshed' with banners of Negro League and Pirates greats replacing the statues.


"Memorabilia collectors noticed. They dropped nearly a quarter of a million dollars on the statues at a Cincinnati auction the day of the All-Star Game there. Proceeds are going to Pittsburgh's Josh Gibson Foundation, which sponsors youth academic and athletic programs.

"The huge size of the haul was unexpected. . . ."

O'Neill told Journal-isms by email how he discovered that the statues had disappeared. "I found out about it because a friend of mine and a Pirates fan is a memorabilia watcher and he saw that the stuff had just been auctioned for big money. He told me, I began making calls, and you saw the rest."


O'Neill said that Brian Warecki, the Pirates' vice president of communications and broadcasting, told him, "We announced during our media day back in April the changes to the programming in that space. . . ."

"It's easy for me to believe that and, as a reporter, easy to see how it got lost in the shuffle. Sports writers and TV sports guys are given a finite amount of space and time to alert readers to what they want to know NOW, and at the beginning of a season, that's pretty much all about the team that's about to take the field, not the players who weren't allowed to take a major league field back when. . . .This, mind you, comes from a guy who is a fan, not a regular sportswriter. I wasn't there. . . ."


Pinterest Implements "Rooney Rule" to Hasten Diversity

"Today, we're doing something unprecedented — we're going on record with our hiring goals for 2016," Evan Sharp, Pinterest's co-founder and chief creative officer, blogged on Thursday. "We're also sharing details about the new programs and improvements we have planned.


"Our goals for 2016:

"Increase hiring rates for full-time engineering roles to 30% female.

"Increase hiring rates for full-time engineers to 8% underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.


"Increase hiring rates for non-engineering roles to 12% underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.

"Implement a Rooney Rule-type requirement where at least one person from an underrepresented background and one female candidate is interviewed for every open leadership position. . . ."


Pinterest describes itself as "a virtual pinboard that lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web."

Meanwhile, "The most powerful African American politicians in the US will next week demand that Silicon Valley companies hire more black people after official figures revealed that many of the world's most prominent tech companies' workforces are just 2% black," Rupert Neate reported Thursday for the Guardian.


"GK Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), will meet with executives at Apple and Google in Silicon Valley on Monday and Tuesday to tell them to 'implement a diversity plan that will place more African Americans in the tech pipeline'. . . ."

Short Takes

"The Tribal Council kicked us out again," Scott McLeod wrote Wednesday for the Smoky Mountain News in Waynesville, N.C. "Holly Kays, a reporter for The Smoky Mountain News, was told on July 9 to leave a meeting of the Cherokee Tribal Council. No meaningful reason was given as to why members of the council did not want our reporter present. This is the second time in the last seven months the Tribal Council, under the leadership of Chairwoman Terri Henry, has decided to exclude the media from their meetings. Such actions would be against the law in all 100 counties in North Carolina. . . ."


"ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir was stunned by what he found while investigating reports of widespread mistreatment of disabled and orphaned children in Mexico City," Mark Joyella reported Thursday for TVNewser. " 'What we witnessed was unimaginable,' Muir told TVNewser, describing horrendous conditions for children who were, in many cases, locked away in cages. 'The cages and restraints seemed frozen in time and sadly, the children have no voice.' . . .”

"OK, Texas, let's call this our Cheerios moment," James Ragland wrote Tuesday for the Dallas Morning News. "And let's salute the Houston magazine editor who took a defiant, principled stance against bigotry. What Scott Vogel did with his mighty pen is turning heads and lighting up social media. It's also showing a sensitive, sensible side of the Lone Star State that makes me proud to call myself a born-and-raised Texan. Vogel publicly called out two armchair Archie Bunkers who expressed racist views about the June issue of Houstonia magazine. It featured an interracial family — a black father, white mother and their three children — in a real estate ad. . . ."


"Viva Colorado, a Denver Post publication aimed at the Hispanic community, will publish its last issue on July 31," Michael Roberts reported July 22 for Westword. "The paper's death is the latest indication that the Post is cutting back in a major way, and it isn't stopping with personnel alone. . . ."  Black journalists Anthony Cotton and movie and theater critic Lisa Kennedy are among those leaving the newspaper, according to a list Roberts published Tuesday in Westword.

"The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) will honor innovator, entrepreneur and truth seeker Julio Ricardo Varela with the NAHJ Dale Presidential Award," NAHJ President Mekahlo Medina announced on Friday. " . . . The 'Dale' award is given to an individual or company that steps up and goes above and beyond to ensure Latinos are fairly and accurately represented. Varela is "founder of Latino Rebels, an online portal for commentary about Latinos in the U.S. He is also Digital Media Director for the Futuro Media Group, an independent nonprofit organization producing multimedia journalism that explores and gives a critical voice to the diversity of the American experience. . . ."


NAHJ will honor Cecilia Vega and Tom Llamas of ABC News with the NAHJ Presidential Award of Impact, NAHJ President Mekahlo Medina announced on Thursday. "I choose Cecilia and Tom because they have not only made history by being the first Latino anchor team on English Network news, but because they are accomplished journalists that have covered hurricanes, bombings and pope elections," Medina said. ABC News named Vega and Llamas anchors of the weekend edition of "World News Tonight" in March.

C-SPAN's American History TV plans coverage Sunday of the 50th anniversary of the Aug. 6 signing of the Voting Rights Act. "Our coverage includes: White House telephone calls between LBJ and his aides, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and members of Congress who strategize how to enact and enforce a voting rights law. We'll hear the calls as part of a studio discussion with LBJ's domestic policy adviser, Joseph Califano Jr., and historian Kent Germany, who has edited transcripts of LBJ's White House calls. They recount the politics and partnerships behind the voting rights law. LBJ's August 6, 1965 speech at the U.S. Capitol and his signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965."


"Despite the extremely hot temperatures, hundreds gathered in support of the Michigan Chronicle's move to Paradise Valley in the early part of next year, Daniel A. Washington reported Friday for the Chronicle. Paradise Valley was once the city's black musical entertainment zone but many of its residents were displaced by the building of freeways and the projects of urban renewal.

"Deadly violence against the press in the Americas has caused censorship to reach one of its highest points in recent decades, Committee to Protect Journalists' senior program coordinator for the Americas, Carlos Lauría, said today," the committee announced on Wednesday. Lauria's remarks were prepared for a congressional hearing before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the U.S. House of Representatives.


Reporters Without Borders said Thursday it was "surprised and dismayed to learn that an opposition newspaper editor was placed in pre-trial detention yesterday in Abidjan, although media offences have been decriminalized in Côte d'Ivoire. Joseph Gnanhoua Titi, the publisher and editor of Aujourd'hui, a daily that supports former President Laurent Gbagbo, is being held in Abidjan's main prison, known as the Maca, on charges of publishing false news and insulting President Alassane Ouattara. . . ."

In Angola, "Armed police surrounded Luanda-based opposition radio station Radio Despertar yesterday morning while one of its journalists, Gonçalves Vieira, was arrested after going to cover preparations for a peaceful protest against 'arbitrary detention and political persecution in Angola,' Reporters Without Borders reported on Thursday. . . ."


In three months of genocide, during which up to one million people were murdered, Jean Kambanda of Rwanda ensured that local authorities had enough people to carry out the killing and made sure that those unwilling to take part were eliminated, Linda Melvern wrote Friday for the Guardian. Kambanda became the world's first head of government to plead guilty to the crime of genocide. Melvern wrote that an interview that Kambanda gave to John Ray, Africa correspondent for ITV, "caused great upset in Rwanda. The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) sent a note of protest to the [International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.] According to the CNLG, a 1999 agreement between Mali and the United Nations does not allow ICTR genocide convicts to have access to media to deny the crimes for which they were convicted and imprisoned. . . . "

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