Date of Submission

Spring 2016

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Donna Grover

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Cases of interracial rape involving white female victims receive a response from the mainstream media that plays upon pre-existing racial stereotypes of bestial black men and pure Caucasian women. The rape and brutal beating of the Central Park jogger on April 19th 1989 exists as an instance when white fear took a firm grip over the news coverage that the attack received and defined the manner in which the accused were portrayed in the media. However unlikely it may be that a group of twelve teenagers would decide on a whim to gang-rape a women who happened to run past them in the park, the New York City tabloid media ran with this notion and published stories that presented the accused as a “savage wolf pack” who gang-raped and nearly murdered Trisha Meili for fun. My senior thesis examines the racially fueled process by which the New York Daily News crafted narratives that ultimately resulted in the wrongful incarceration of five Harlem-raised black and Hispanic adolescent males ages 14 to 16 that were imprisoned from 1990 to 2003 for a violent assault they did not commit. Eager to cover the scintillating story from the onset, the New York Daily News rapidly began printing front-page headlines that preyed on the fear expressed by white-Manhattanites who identified with the affluent jogger and felt their own safety was in jeopardy following the attack. These media crafted narratives were so effective in their manipulation of the racial unrest in Manhattan, that soon after they hit newsstands, the city was divided on lines of black and white as the arguments regarding park safety and questions regarding ‘public space’ emerged. While the tabloid media were creating their own manipulated version of the white woman's assault that took place in the park on April 19th, 1989, the lives of five black and Latino youths were left hanging in the balance.

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