Excellence in Journalism 2017 | Anaheim

  • Journalism professor

    Race should not be reported unless it is intrinsic to the story. How is it conceivably relevant that the persons carousing this mall are African American or any other ethnicity? This is an established journalistic concept. By ignoring it, you reveal ignorance.

    • Michael Koretzky

      I agree with this stupid stereotype: The crime story that describes the suspect as a “black male, average height, in his 20s or 30s.” Race does more harm than good there.

      But in the mall brawl story, race might be a big factor. We don’t know, because apparently, none of the reporters have bothered to pursue it.

      SPJ’s ethics chairman Andrew Seaman pointed out to me today…

      “There could be a number of reasons race isn’t relevant to the news story. For example, it could be the mall is situated in a predominantly black neighborhood. In that case, I would expect most children to be black whether they are fighting, eating at the food court or shopping at Macy’s.”

      …which is spot on – and maybe a more enlightening story.

      What if this upscale mall is surrounded by a poor black community? It reminds me of Ta-Nehisi Coats describing how he grew up in Baltimore – where poor black kids couldn’t afford to ever step inside the Baltimore Orioles stadium, even though they lived in the shadow of it.

      If media can describe the ages of the brawler/rioters, I don’t understand why race is immediately off limits here.

    • The problem isn’t “one way” or “another”
      It’s internal inconsistency.
      Sometimes race is reported, sometimes it is not, and it is always in service of a narrative rather than justified by significance to the story.
      I’m totally with Koretzky here (which is unusual :P) Breitbart correctly identifies a problem in “liberal media” but also engages in similar identity politics nonsense that its own readership laps up.

      Not every conservative/breitbart reader is racist, just like not every liberal supports the liberal narrative being pushed (I’m a socialist, for instance, and despise identity politics as I despise all racism; it’s a cancer on the left)

      This is a genuine problem that needs to be addressed with honesty, not just excused by pointing at bigots in another part of the political spectrum as if that’s a justification.

      Amusingly, imho, many right leaning internet users are exceptionally fragile snowflakes that do not do well when disagreed with.
      Much like the “social justice warriors” on the left.
      Flip sides of the same worthless coin.

  • Daniel Minardi

    A writer should almost always err on the side of not mentioning race, unless there is a suspect at large, or unless there is a clear case of a racial motivation of the actors. Without this, a straight news piece should not invent an implicit racial motive.

    Opinion writers might have any sort of point, however inane, that they need to make, that requires mentioning the race of a perpetrator or victim. And they want the race reported as soon as possible to fuel their propaganda. Shouldn’t hide it from them, but they should at least have to work for it.

    • Michael Koretzky

      If I were covering the story, I’d ask the police if *they* thought race was an issue here. I’d report whatever they said. If they said no, then passing along that official opinion might pre-empt some of the stupidity that has ensued.

      If they said yes, well, I’d have a substantial story. Not sure why no reporters have done this.

      I don’t understand why ignoring an obvious fact – easily discerned from multiple videos – should simply be ignored. It doesn’t prevent “racial motive,” it just inspires conspiracy theories.

      But if I’m missing something here, please tell me. I say that without snark. As a mid-level white-guy college-dropout journalist, I’m just asking questions I think other journalists are too embarrassed to publicly pose. (I don’t embarrass easy.)

      As an aside, I wonder how reporters knew all the “rioters” were teens…

      • Daniel Minardi

        Eh, I just think a journalist should be careful not to inflame idiots unless certain facts (even obvious ones) genuinely contribute to understanding an incident. Maybe I’d trust cops, but I wouldn’t uncritically report their assessment unless they provide extra context.

        Of course, I’m one of those assholes who looks first for a race-neutral reason for everything, so that may just be my own bias.

  • Breitbart is one of the few fringe right wing publications I read regularly, because they are much more explicit in their approach of framing a narrative, and plugging stories into that narrative, than any publication of comparable size.

    The narrative is that minorities and feminists are endangering white western civilization. It’s an explicitly racist and misogynistic narrative.

    They let their commenters flesh out that narrative. It wouldn’t make any sense to do otherwise, from their perspective.

    Whether what they do is journalism at all depends on how you define journalism. It certainly isn’t hard news reporting.