Black Journalists Criticize Media Coverage of ‘Down Low’ Phenomenon, Say Articles Wrongly Link Behavior to Blacks, Increase in AIDS Cases
Black journalists last week while attending a National Association of Black Journalists conference in Atlanta discussed media coverage of the black community and the "down low" phenomenon -- when men who have sex with both male and female partners do not mention their male relationships to friends, family members or female partners, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Participants "heatedly" debated whether media coverage of the phenomenon is a "public service" to the black community or a "salacious distraction" from other issues affecting the black community, such as unemployment, homophobia and a lack of economic empowerment, according to the Journal-Constitution. Some observers have criticized the media coverage, saying it unfairly characterizes the phenomenon as occurring only among black men and often inappropriately links the phenomenon with statistics about the increasing number of AIDS cases in the black community. As a result, many black women have gone on "witch hunts to determine whether the men in their lives are secretly gay" and people of other races have wrongly assumed that the phenomenon does not apply to them, the Journal-Constitution reports. "We have missed the mark by focusing on AIDS and by demonizing black men," Wall Street Journal reporter Steven Gray said, adding, "I think it created a bogeyman for black women without proper context" (Dodd, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.