Ashley Williams

Major and Classification

Broadcast Journalism, International Relations and Spanish

Faculty Mentors

  • Erna R. Smith, Ph.D.
  • Philip Seit, Ph.D.


  • School of Journalism and Psychology

McNair Project

Television news impacts individuals’ perceptions of themselves. Compared to local news, network news has a greater impact on its audiences due to its national presentation of issues and current events. Previous studies demonstrate that network news’ portrayals of African Americans increase the endorsement of African American stereotypes and racial attitudes within society. Since African American adolescents watch more television than any other demographic, increased exposure to television network news programming may affect their college aspirations and self-concepts. This experiment investigates if viewing television network news programming affects the college aspirations of African American high school students. An online survey was administered to sixty predominantly African American students recruited from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, California. Students viewed two television network news packages and responded to follow-up questions on the packages. One package focused on a societal issue selected as most interesting to the subject, and the second featured President Barack Obama providing solutions to solve the societal issue. Results demonstrated subjects believed network news programming encouraged negative stereotypes towards African Americans. Results also revealed network news programming which included a successful African American providing solutions to societal issues increased college aspirations and self-concepts. This research encourages future discussions on stopping the endorsement of African American stereotype portrayals in television network news and using network news to encourage African Americans to attend college.