Saturday, December 03, 2005

media blackout

Lately, I've written a number of posts that were very critical of the local media's coverage of race issues. And it got me thinking about my own work, from when I used to be employed. One thing that's always troubled me is that a lot of my hardest hitting stories were about black leaders. Sure, I wrote stories that came down hard on white leaders, too. But it was much easier to get dirt on blacks. There just seemed to be a lot more people, white and black, who were willing to dish it out.

Plus it was hard to frame stories about whites in the same you'd frame ones about blacks. For instance, if I were looking into a development project on the East Side that had gone over budget and was loaded with politically connected contracts, that would be fairly easy to pull together and present as a patronage/corruption story. But if I were to tackle a story about a Northland development project loaded with tax breaks that was being put together by politically connected folks, I'd get a different response. Not necessarily from readers but from the folks I'd be interviewing. Like, if I were to suggest in an interview with a white bureaucrat at city hall that the Northland development looks like a patronage situation, they'd likely look at me as if I were a little odd, as if I were just another alt-weekly radical.

It's all very troubling, really. I can look back on all of my stories and see the subtle and not so subtlle ways I was encouraged to expose the datardly deeds of blacks. In some cases entire, readymade stories were dropped in my lap, documents and all. And I was never lacking a tip or a lead into some story about a black leader who was doing something wroong.

And it's not that I regret doing those stories. I think it's important to be an equal-opportunity watch dog. But really, it's not equal.

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