One might suggest that it’s the pressure of the 24-hour news cycle that’s forcing news outlets to curate the news instead of reporting it. But if we’re going to admit defeat like that, we might as well stop calling ourselves journalists and embrace the title of copy machines instead. And if we continue to be afraid or unwilling to investigate the thorny issues of race and diversity, then the easiest way to get a journalist’s attention will be to take to Twitter with a racist rant.

Remember the ‘controversial’ Cheerios commercial that aired online this summer? The one with an interracial family and a box of Cheerios? The racist comments that appeared on the ad caused General Mills to shut down the comments section on their YouTube channel, but not before the most insulting comments were circulated through social and traditional media outlets. The result? Did the racists throw down their swords and repent? No. (See Miss America controversy.) Did people of color learn something new about racists in America? No. (We’ve always known they were there.) Did General Mills get more than 4 million views on the commercial and a whole lot of publicity? Yes!

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Lori Tharps is an assistant professor of journalism at Temple University. She blogs regularly at