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The study examines the effects of visual framing in news coverage of law enforcement use of lethal force. In a 2X2 online experiment, participants read one of four versions of a news story that included visual racial cues (images depicting a Black vs. a White victim) and a delinquent/normative frame—depicting the victim wearing attire that signifies either normative or delinquent behavior (regalia vs. a hooded sweatshirt). Both race and delinquency framing influenced the readers’ stereotype endorsement and feelings toward Black Americans. However, judgment of the police officer’s behavior solely depended on the victim’s race. These findings demonstrate the importance of imagery accompanying news reporting on social issues in activating and intensifying White-centered intergroup biases. Implications for responsible journalistic practices are discussed.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Howard Journal of Communications in 2021, available online at It may differ slightly from the final version of record.


Taylor & Francis

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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