Newspapers provide the context to how the public understands the role of race and gender in America. Both are portrayed commonly as having lost their power. Taking an intersectional approach, here I examine the role race and gender play in black newspaper coverage of Michelle Obama from August 2008 through July 2009. Analyzing 31 papers, gathered from Ethnic NewsWatch, I examine 175 articles, notes, and editorials that addressed the first lady in some capacity. Most narratives highlighted traditional first lady duties, her “family” values and fashion. Female reporters were focused on Obama's values and duties before the election, but emphasized her duties and looks after. Although from December, their reporting was more diffuse, having no particular focus, male reporters also focused on her duties pre-election, but values and looks were relatively unimportant. Race remained an important element in many narratives, especially for male reporters. It was mostly invoked in ways that were ceremonial and abstract, with little attention to the specific plight of black communities. In contrast, female reporters made the intersection of race and gender important (both before and after the election), and Obama's looks (particularly after). Overall, these papers were supportive; and they almost appear in awe of a black family in the White House. As a result, little attention was given to exploring how “change you can count on” would affect black America particularly.
Thornton, M. (2010), "“He loves strong, intelligent women. They're his Kryptonite:” Michelle Obama, gender, race, and the black press", Cunnigen, D. and Bruce, M. (Ed.) Race in the Age of Obama (Research in Race and Ethnic Relations, Vol. 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 29-53. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0195-7449(2010)0000016005Download as .RIS
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