Media and Racial Violence

Visualizing Publicity and the Transformation of Norms
Michael Weaver
DFP Classroom - FSC 2300

*Please note that, due to high demand, the event location has been changed to a room with higher capacity. Event will now take place in FSC 2330.
This event is from 12:45 - 2:00pm.
Lunch is provided with RSVP.

How does violence become publicly unacceptable? I address this question in the context of lynching in United States. Between 1880 and the 1930s, public discourse about lynching moved from open or tacit endorsement to widespread condemnation. I argue this occurred because of increasing publicity for lynchings. While locals justified nearby lynchings, publicity exposed lynching to distant, un-supportive audiences and allowed African Americans to safely articulate counter-narratives and condemnations. I test this argument using data on lynchings, rail networks, and newspaper coverage of lynchings in millions of issues across thousands of newspapers. I find that lynchings in counties with greater access to publicity (via rail networks) saw more and geographically dispersed coverage, that distant coverage was more critical, and that increased risk of media exposure may have reduced the incidence of lynching. I discuss how publicity could be a mechanism for strengthening or weakening justifications of violence in other contexts.

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Event directions

Once you are inside the Forestry Science building walk to the rear (south-east) of the building by passing through the large open study area and up the stairs to the 2nd level student (“treetop”) lounge area. Turn left, pass through the double doors, and room 2300 will be immediately to your right.

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