Megan Allen



Document Type



In this honors thesis, I explore the process of racialization in media coverage of White-on-Black violent events (both crimes and incidents not recognized by the legal system as crimes) using a critical race theory framework. Recent years have seen a series of killings of and assaults on African American people that have become newsworthy, as they have been seen, often controversially, as unjustified. The controversy has largely broken down on racial and political lines, with minority Americans and the left seeing these incidents as evidence and example of ongoing racial inequality, with whites and the right, in particular right-wing whites, denying that race is a relevant category. By using critical race theory’s understanding of race and racism as active social processes, I trace the assumptions, politics, and social consequences of media coverage across conservative, centrist, and left media outlets. The shooting and killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager from Ferguson, MO., by white police officer Darren Wilson and the coverage of the event were examined as a case study. Over 300 articles and videos from national, regional, and local media outlets covering the incident were compiled and analyzed based on their content. Additionally, interviews were conducted with students of the Bridgewater State University’s Criminal Justice department to assess their perceptions of the incident and how those perceptions may have been influenced by exposure to specific media coverage. From the content analysis (chapter 3) I conclude that the media did in fact racialize the shooting of Michael Brown and fueled racial tensions by creating two distinct narratives of events through the use of racialized language and frames. From the interviews conducted and reviewed in chapter 4, I further conclude that the perceptions formed by my peers, based on their exposure to media coverage of the event, can be understood as racialized when examined through Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s four racial frames.


Criminal Justice

Thesis Comittee

Wendy Wright (Thesis Mentor)

Jo-Ann Della-Giustina

Jamie Huff

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

Included in

Criminology Commons