We do not reference race unless it is a fact that is central to telling the story.
By all indication, these attacks were motivated by theft, not race. Further, there is no evidence to suggest that the victims were singled out because of their race. Therefore we did not include racial descriptions in our initial news reports.
It’s nice to read the skewed logic and foggy rationale behind the pusillanimous writers in the media. Carlos Sadovi did a hatchet job on a black crime story and managed to write a whole article without mentioning the race of the attackers. Most of us already know typical description, but the writers lack the guts to call a spade a spade. Gerould Kern, an editor at the Tribune, made a lame attempt to explain away the self-censorship; perhaps he just thinks most people are stupid because they buy and read his publication. Why can’t they simply write: “A crew teens stole an I-Phone from a passenger. The offenders were male blacks in their late teens dressed in white t-shirts and black jeans. The victim was male white/ female black/transgender asian (if in fact it was a transgender asian),” or whatever race was the case at the time of the crime. Are facts that tough to reveal? That’s all you have to print, but we all know that’s not the case unless the offenders are Caucasian. A white criminal perpetrating a crime against a minority tends to get full exposure.
Steve Chapman wrote in June 2011 about the same topic and tried to use fuzzy logic with apples and oranges comparisons:
There are good reasons not to identify the attackers by race. It’s the newspaper’s sound general policy not to mention race in a story, whether about crime or anything else, unless it has some clear relevance to the topic.
If a reporter goes out and interviews people about the weather, would it make sense for the story to say, “Joe Smith, who is black, is hoping for a cool front”? If a pedestrian gets run over by a bicyclist, should the story mention that the rider was white?
In the attack coverage, what difference does race make, unless police are putting out descriptions or sketches in hopes of getting tips from witnesses? Getting beat up for your iPad, I suspect, feels about the same regardless of the color of the thieves. Police don’t seem to think victims were targeted because of their race.
And what good would it do to trumpet the skin color of the thugs? So pedestrians on Michigan Avenue can run away when they see two or more African-Americans? Lots of black adolescents and young adults can be found on the Magnificent Mile on any given day. I’d guess at least 95 percent of them are harmless.
My question to readers accusing us of political correctness is: Why do you care so much about the attackers’ race? If you fear or dislike blacks, I suppose it would confirm your prejudice. But otherwise, it tells you nothing useful.
Sure Steve, the description of the attacker isn’t important. The latest coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting kind of blows your race coverage methods out of the water. So where does the real prejudice lie?