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Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media

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Winner of the National Press Club Prize for Media Criticism

Unmasks race-related conflicts in the newsrooms and the push for more equitable coverage of racial minorities

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.

Companion website:

ISBN-13: 9780814757994

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: New York University Press

Publication Date: 07-01-2000

Pages: 253

Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.91(d)

Pamela Newkirk is Professor of Journalism at New York University. She is the author of Diversity Inc.: The Failed Promise of Billion-Dollar Business and Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Within the Veil

Leaving, then, the white world, I have stepped within the Veil, raising it that you may view faintly its deeper recesses—the meaning of its religion, the passion of its human sorrow, and the struggle of its greater souls.
—W. E. B. Du Bois, 1903<

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Pamela Newkirk is uniquely equipped to undertake a searching examination of the American institution that distorts perceptions of some of us for consumption by the rest of us. In Within the Veil, Newkirk renders compelling evidence that American news media have exacerbated more than ameliorated America's complex racial dilemma."

-Randall Robinson,author of The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks

"In telling the stories of forgotten pioneers like Lester Walton, George Schuyler, Earl Brown, Ted Poston, and Ben Holman, and in detailing the pressures felt and obstacles overcome by more recent generations of African-American journalists, Pamela Newkirk's Within the Veil makes a valuable contribution to the history of the American press."

-Ben Yagoda,associate professor of journalism, University of Delaware, author of About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made, and coeditor of The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of American Journalism

"In many ways, today's news business suffers from a terrible case of isolationism, not just racial but socioeconomic. If every news editor in America read Within the Veil, it could transform dynamics within the newsroom and what appears on the screen and printed page. And for everyone else—the informed citizens of America who wonder how the media works—this book, with its gripping behind-the-scenes newsroom dramas, is a damn good read."

-Farai Chideya,author of The Color of Our Future and Don't Believe the Hype, and editor of

"A compelling look at the power of the media from an award-winning journalist who fearlessly and passionately addresses critical issues confronting African-American journalists working for mainstream newspapers and magazines."


"In her eloquent take on media Eurocentrism, Pamela Newkirk observes that anti-African exclusion very much characterizes the major media. . . . An hermeneutical tour-de-force."

-New York Amsterdam News

Table of Contents

ONE Within the Veil

TWO Into the Mainstream: A History of Strife

THREE The Bumpy Road into the Newsroom

FOUR Slaying the Dragon

FIVE Private Dilemmas, Public Strife

SIX Double Standards and the “Double-Special Burden”

SEVEN The Kerner Legacy