Added: November 30, 2013 – Last updated: February 4, 2017


Author: Natalie Byfield

Title: Savage Portrayals

Subtitle: Race, Media , & the Central Park Jogger Story

Place: Philadelphia, PA

Publisher: Temple University Press

Year: 2014

Pages: 242pp.

ISBN-13: 9781439906330 (cloth) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781439906347 (paper) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781439906354 (ebk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | American History: U.S. History | Cases: Offenders / Matias Reyes; Cases: Others / Central Park Jogger Case; Cases: Victims / Trisha Meili; Prosecution: False Confessions, Wrong Convictions; Representations: Press; Types: Interracial Rape



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Author: Natalie P. Byfield, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, St. John's UniversityAuthor's Personal Website,, ResearchGate


  Acknowledgments (p. vii)
  1 Reconnecting New Forms of Inequality to their Roots (p. 1)
  2 A Jogger Is Raped in Central Park (p. 28)
  3 The Position of the Black Man in the Cult of White Womanhood (p. 46)
  4 Salvaging the "Savage": A Racial Frame that Refuses to Die (p. 75)
  5 A Participant Observes How Content Emerges (p. 106)
  6 The "Facts" Emerge to Convict the Innocent (p. 129)
  7 The Case Falls Apart: Media’s Brief Mea Culpa (p. 153)
  8 Selling Savage Portrayals: Young Black and Latino Males in the Carceral State (p. 168)
  9 They Didn’t Do It! (p. 182)
  Notes (p. 199)
  References (p. 215)
  Index (p. 227)

Description: »In 1989, the rape and beating of a white female jogger in Central Park made international headlines. Many accounts reported the incident as an example of "wilding"—episodes of poor, minority youths roaming the streets looking for trouble. Police intent on immediate justice for the victim coerced five African-American and Latino boys to plead guilty. The teenage boys were quickly convicted and imprisoned. Natalie Byfield, who covered the case for the New York Daily News, now revisits the story of the Central Park Five from her perspective as a black female reporter in Savage Portrayals.
Byfield illuminates the race, class, and gender bias in the massive media coverage of the crime and the prosecution of the now-exonerated defendants. Her sociological analysis and first-person account persuasively argue that the racialized reportage of the case buttressed efforts to try juveniles as adults across the nation.
Savage Portrayals casts new light on this famous crime and its far-reaching consequences for the wrongly accused and the justice system.« (Source: Temple University Press)

Interview: West, James, and Natalie Byfield. »Savage Portrayals: Race, Media, & the Central Park Jogger Story.« New Books in African American Studies. New Books Network 2016. – Bibliographic Entry: Info


Green, David A. Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews 46(1) (January 2017): 44-46. – Full Text: SAGE Publishing (Restricted Access)

Gruenewald, Jeff. American Journal of Sociology 121(2) (September 2015): 611-613. – Full Text: University of Chicago Press (Restricted Access)

Thomas, James M. Social Forces (December 1, 2014). – Full Text: Oxford University Press (Restricted Access)

West, James. American Journalism 31(2) (2014): 283-285. – Full Text: Taylor & Francis Online (Restricted Access)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of the United States / History of the United States (1980–91) | Sexual violence: Rape in the United States / Central Park jogger case