Mob Beats Pair? Must Be Black vs. White, Some Thought
Friday, August 2, 2002
When a mob on Chicago's South Side pulled two men out of a van Tuesday night and beat them to death after their vehicle crashed into a building's front steps, injuring three women, some newspaper readers assumed the two men were white and the mob was black.
They demanded to know why the Chicago Tribune didn't identify the race of the victims and call it a racial crime. At an editorial-writing workshop at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Milwaukee, Public Editor Don Wycliff related that he informed those irate readers that all involved were the same race -- black.
To Wycliff, responding to a question about whether you can write too much about race, it was evidence that race is never far from readers' minds anyway.
"This may amount to an argument for including racial references more often in crime stories," he wrote. "In this case, their omission led at least some readers to assume falsely that a pair of murders were racially motivated. In retrospect it's clear that the victims' race was relevant to the story, if only to dispel the suspicion that it was relevant to the crime."
As Taranto notes, the standard practice in newsrooms is to omit references to race, especially in crime stories, unless race is relevant. Because some readers might suspect that a racial crime had taken place in Chicago doesn't make it so, or make it a racial story -- except in some readers' imaginings. Besides, with the Tribune's Web site running photos of the victims, and with television likely doing the same, it was fairly easy to see the faces of those involved.
A string of editors and publishers -- from the New York Times to the Society of Professional Journalists -- has taken up arms to help an Alabama artist in a lawsuit brought by golfer Tiger Woods, reports Editor & Publisher.
The battle began in 1998 when Woods' licensing company filed suit claiming trademark infringement over sales of a painting by artist Rick Rush of Woods' 1997 Masters Tournament win.
In a 31-page brief filed by SPJ and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, two of the organizations that joined the case, the two groups said that, "allowing the courts or celebrities to subjectively decide whether they like any given expressive work would result in such a vague standard that journalists, artists, or others would never know whether their use is proper, resulting in a chilling effect on speech."
Jorge Ramos of Univision, Alberto Ibarguen of the Miami Herald, Maria Elvira Salazar of Telemundo and Joaquin Blaya of Radio Unica are among the 100 most outstanding Hispanic journalists in the United States, according to a newly released "Hispanic Media 100" award list.
So are EFE bureau chief in Miami Alberto Garcia Marrder, Telemundo's Pedro Sevcec, Univision's Cristina Saralegui, La Raza's Luis H. Rossi, Miami Herald columnist Liz Balmeseda, Charlie Ericksen, editor of the Hispanic Link Weekly Report, and Evelyn Hernandez, editorial page editor of El Diario La Prensa.
The awards are organized by Event Concepts and the Hispanic Media Program of Denver, and are to be formally presented at a gala dinner in Miami Sept. 20. The awards are presented each year and recognize the community service and excellence of the journalists selected.
A panel of judges selected the 100 winners .
For about 30 minutes Thursday, Alexis Patterson got what her parents say seems almost automatic for other missing children - attention from journalists from all over the country, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Patterson case took center stage during a news conference at the National Association of Black Journalists' annual convention in Milwaukee as her parents and activists complained about uneven coverage given to child abduction cases.
Representatives from the NAACP, Operation LAP (Locate Alexis Patterson), activists and comic book publisher Alfonzo Washington were among those attending the press conference to support the family. Washington said that he started publishing trading cards bearing photos of missing black children in response to the media's lack of attention, reports the NABJ convention newspaper .
"A child should not have to fit a certain prototype in ordered to be covered," Washington said.
Washington plans to highlight Alexis Patterson in a comic due out by the end of September, the Associated Press reports. She'll join other missing black children who've been profiled in his bimonthly comic. Washington's comic books are distributed to stores ranging from Wal-Mart to KB Toy. He estimates his circulation is about 30,000.
An online chat with "Coloring the News" author William McGowan the National Association of Black Journalists convention was deemed too complicated to pull off, but McGowan got a chance to lash out at his critics at NABJ and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and his book, subtitled "How Crusading for Diversity Has Corrupted American Journalism," got a mention at a White House press briefing.
After McGowan accepted NABJ President Condace Pressley's televised offer to attend the Milwaukee convention, he backed off. But Pressley then held out hope that McGowan could at least do an online forum. That proved unworkable, Pressley said.
NABJ and NAHJ had criticized the National Press Club's award for book press criticism to McGowan's work, saying it was below standards for a work of journalism.
McGowan told the student NABJ Monitor that while he was honored by the award, "The fact that they [the National Press Club] responded to the NABJ and NAHJ protest at all says more about the ease with which the journalistic establishment can be intimidated than it says anything about the worthiness of my book."
He also said the NABJ and NAHJ protests boosted sales. "I actually should thank the NABJ and NAHJ leadership, though being grateful to such dishonest demagogues is something that I can politely resist at the moment, thank you very much," McGowan said.
Meanwhile, "Coloring the News" was raised at at White House briefing Wednesday by Baltimore radio personality and press corps gadfly Lester Kinsolving.
From the White House transcript:
MR. FLEISCHER: Lester?
Q: You remember that when a 28-year veteran CBS reporter, Bernard Goldberg, wrote his book "Bias," the president was so impressed that he carried a copy, with the title exposed, past several alert photographers. Now the National Press Club has just given its press criticism award to William McGowan for his book "Coloring the News," which is one of the most extensive and accurate journalistic indictments of The New York Times ever written. And my question is, surely if the president was so interested in the book "Bias," you, as his faithful press secretary, have told him about "Coloring the News" or have even gotten him a copy; haven't you, Ari?
MR. FLEISCHER: Lester, I have not, but you've piqued my interest.
A group of African American ministers and representatives of the National Association of Black Organizations and the National Action Network, are "demanding" a meeting with Hugh Panero, CEO of XM Satellite, in the hopes of persuading the subscription radio service to carry "value positive programming."
Media Week reports that XM, which launched last November and has more than 136,000 subscribers, offers 100 channels of music and information, including eight channels (seven music, one talk) that specifically target the "Urban" listener, such as Soul Street, BET Uptown, and Spirit (Gospel music). But the African American contingent, led by Bishop Charles Ellis of Detroit, doesn't like XM's current choices. Two of the channels, Raw and The Rhyme, carry a warning of explicit language.
As an alternative, the contingent suggested that XM add to its lineup The Word Network, which provides Urban religious music and talk programming to 20 million cable and DirecTV subscribers.
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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