Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Jessica Toft


Social Work


African American communities receive a substantial amount of attention in the media. From newspapers to major television outlets, often times the lead stories involve African American communities. The media’s portrayal often times focuses on African American’s status in society regarding their employment and income status, involvement in the criminal justice systems and other social service systems and their educational standing. Additionally, social policies and the impact of media on populations is discussed in the available literature. This study uses Schneider and Ingram’s theory (1993) of social construction of target populations to examine the ways African American youth are portrayed within the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press. By using grounded theory, codes and themes were identified in the discourse. The most common theme depicts African American youth as contenders (negative and strong) followed by portrayals as deviants (negative and weak). Less frequently African American youth were portrayed as dependents (positive and weak) and the least common portrayal depicts them as advantaged (positive and strong). The most frequent media portrayal of African American youth as negative and strong may perpetuate society’s current beliefs about this population and may limit the possibility of change. Furthermore, the lack of positive portrayals may suggest that society does not yet view this population in this way despite evidence that African American youth are just as likely to be positive and successful as other groups. Future research should focus on the portrayals of African American youth in various parts of the country to gain a better understanding of the overall portrayal or how it may differ from one area to the next. Additionally, future research should explore the effect and accuracy these portrayals have within the African American.

Included in

Social Work Commons