Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Journalism Isn't Racism

So there is a serial rapist loose in the Waldo area. At least 5 women have been assaulted. This is the police sketch of the suspect based on descriptions provided by the victims.

A small handfull of vocal, egotistical, self-important, pseudo-journalist wannabes have been crying crocidile tears over the fact that 5 white women being raped by an African-American assailant is getting more news coverage and more public outrage than the murder rate in Kansas City's urban core, even though it's about average for all cities in the U.S. and not that remarkable.

Perhaps these screaming harpies need a remedial course in the definition of what contitutes "news".

In the broadest sense, "news" is simply a report of recent events.

Hundreds of years ago, in small communities, the news could be quite comprehensive. It would include not just crime and politics, but local residents who recieved out of town visitors and which crops local farmers were planting in hopes of a bountiful fall harvest.

But as the world grew larger and more complex, it simply wasn't possible to report everything all the time. Judgements had to be made. Editors had to make choices on which news stories got reported and which ones didn't.

Which stories have the biggest impact on the most people?

Which stories do people need to know about to protect themselves?

Which stories represent a departure from the norm?

The old cliche' rule of thumb was "If a dog bites a man, that's not news because it happens all the time. If a man bites a dog, THAT'S NEWS!"

So when a number of women report having their homes broken into and being raped in a neighborhood where that doesn't normally occur, that's news.

Why? Because it is not a common occurence.

When Waldo residents raise Reward Money and organize self defense classes and bring in safety experts to hold seminars, that's news.

Why? Because it's not a common occurence.

But sadly, when young males in the urban core gun each other down because of gang-violence, drug-deals gone bad, or some percieved "disrespect", it's not news.

Why? Because it's a common occurence.

It's doesn't have a huge impact on a large number of people, it isn't something that most people (who aren't involved in gangs or drugs or thugs) need to know to protect themselves, and tragically, it's not a departure from the norm.

Bloggers (like me) have the luxury of making a big deal about something that very few people care about.

Professional News Organizations that have to hire PROFESSIONAL, college educated and accredited reporters, pay for satellite vans and helicopters and fact checkers (in order to have any sort of credibility) and advertising staff to sell ads that pay for all of that overhead and still find a way to turn a profit don't have the luxury of doing in-depth reporting on common, everyday occurences.

They have to reserve their limited reporting resources and space to those things that people need to know about, but don't.

Everyone knows that if you are a young male involved in criminal activity in the urban core, you have a high probability of getting yourself dead. So that's not newsworthy.

Very few people know that if you are a young female in Waldo with locked doors and windows you can still be raped. When that, in fact, does occur 5 times in a short period of time...that's newsworthy.

That's not racism. It's sound, journalistic and editorial discretion.

1 comment:

I Travel for JOOLS said...

If I lived in Waldo, I'd be polishing my silver or at the least getting a big companion for my cocker spaniel named Wolf or something like that befitting his image.

Now I guess I'm gonna have to go across blogger town to read about how everybody in this town is racist again. I had almost forgotten about him.