It's not every day you read an article in a major newspaper stating unequivocally that media radically misreported a current event that made national headlines, especially one with a racial component.
However, that's exactly what happened Wednesday when the Christian Science Monitor published an article written by the assistant editor of the Jena Times about how press outlets "got most of the basics wrong" concerning the beating of a white student by six black students in Jena, Louisiana.
In fact, the author, Craig Franklin, was by no means shy with his criticism of just how poorly media behaved (emphasis added, h/t Glenn Reynolds):
In an era of shocking things, this has to be one of the most shocking: at the Hip Hop Awards aired on Black Entertainment Television Thursday, two members of the 'Jena Six' were actually introduced to help present the Video of the Year honors to Kanye West.
There was a time when professional journalists were driven toward their profession out of a desire to protect the interests of the public through thoughtful and informative information gathering and reporting. It was an honorable job in a profession that was kept on course by a civic responsibility and a "journalistic code of ethics". This concept has been around for so long that you will often hear the phrase repeated in schools and newspapers.
Entitled "Lessons From Jena, LA," Whitlock's piece marvelously exposed a side of this story that mainstream media outlets, as well as folks like Jackson and Sharpton, want to desperately withhold from the public in order to provoke racial tension rather than reduce it.
After a wonderful introduction, Whitlock got down to business (emphasis added throughout, h/t NB reader Thomas Rosenbrook):
When members of the Duke University lacrosse team were falsely accused of raping a black stripper last year, media focused great attention on the woman in the middle of the controversy, and the supposed crime.
Yet, as pointed out Thursday by NewsBuster Matthew Balan, as the press report activities in Jena, Louisiana, the name of the white boy who was beaten by the "Jena 6," Justin Barker, is rarely mentioned, and the assault which precipitated the arrest of the "6" is either ignored, or downplayed.
Such was certainly the case on Thursday's "Nightly News" which led with the day's civil rights protests in Jena, but, for all intents and purposes, ignored the assault which precipitated the arrests of the six students in question.
Ironically, NBC's Brian Williams began the broadcast: