Co.Design, February 27, 2018: Two Charts Showing How The Mainstream Media Gets Minorities Wrong
In 2016, the Toronto Star‘s long-serving film critic, Peter Howell, suffered an internet beat-down to remember. In an attempt to praise the film Moonlight, he called out director Barry Jenkins’s resistance to any kind of “coatswitching”—cleaning up street vernacular, to better gain acceptance with mainstream society. There was just one problem: The term isn’t “coat switch.” It’s “code switch.” Twitter flayed Howell, then boiled his bones for soup. The hashtag #coatswitch almost immediately became a byword for racial cluelessness.
This might seem like a goofy accident, readily avoided by anyone else keen on the mores of social media. But a surprising new study sponsored by the Knight Foundation, out today, reveals that the #coatswitch incident isn’t the exception when it comes to how the media deals with minority communities on Twitter—it’s the rule. And when media outlets do try to cover minority groups, they actually drive up disdain on the platform.