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Poor Black Women Are Not Valued by Politics, Courts & Media Says VICE Editor


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It is Will Cooper’s firm belief that the American judicial system doesn’t value the lives of poor black women and therefore, their stories of abuse, deprivation and courage are seldom told by mainstream media. Their conditions are ignored by politicians, he argues.
If their stories are told, Cooper contends that mainstream media “sanitizes” the stories so as to not offend the sensitivities and stereotypes of audiences.
Today is the last of a three-part weekly Spectrum Podcast series examining issues surrounding race, media and politics and the interrelationships between the three.
Cooper, a Senior Editor for VICE Media Inc. in New York City covers race and law enforcement for VICE among other topics.
He has a unique perspective of institutional racism and the criminal justice system. Being the son of two Cleveland police officers, he has seen the judicial system from all sides.
He has produced both long-form and shorter stories and he also has produced critically acclaimed full-length documentaries.
Additionally, he has written a series of essays and investigative reports about race among other topics.
Cooper says that VICE is different from mainstream media. It tells stories from a “unique perspective” – from the reporter’s perspective.
VICE allows its reporters to get involved in stories and not to sit on the sidelines. He claims that a VICE story is often told through a reporter’s personal involvement the reporter’s eyes.
Cooper sites as an example a series that he did on serial murders of poor black women in Cleveland. He started the series by taping a conversation he was having with his law enforcement parents about the short-comings of the investigations.
Cooper continued to tell the story from the perspective of being an African-American man in his hometown of Cleveland. Cooper argues that this type of “personal” reporting is better than the standard objective format used by other media.
More people can relate to a story if it is told from the perspective of someone who totally understands the issues or the people involved from first-hand experience, according to Cooper.
He cites his love for the “new journalism” movement promoted by writers such as Truman Capote and Hunter S. Thompson. Personal involvement was the cornerstone of that era of journalism.