Some Quotes Are Too Good To Be True

July 4th, 2006 10:27 PM

The St. Petersburg Times ran an article about Hazleton, Pennsylvania where the mayor has proposed making English the official language and to fine those who employ illegal aliens. The Hispanic population in Hazleton has grown tenfold since 2000 and now makes up one-third of the town. They write:

It's about time, some longtime Hazleton residents are saying. About time someone did something to stop these people from acting so brazen, walking around like they own the place. Staring you down on the street, making you stop your car to let them cross.

Even some Hispanics who usually support the mayor are nervous, because who can tell just by looking whether a brown-skinned person is here legally or illegally? Your citizenship status doesn't matter to the guy in line at the doughnut place, who says: These people are everywhere. They're like cockroaches.

Notice anything missing? Quotation marks? Names?

One type of journalism is where the reporter talks to people in the town and when they say things the reporter quotes and attributes them to a person or maybe even keeps them anonymous if there is cause. The other type of journalism already knows what people must think and the reporter quotes the voices in his or her head. This goes past various levels of editors who also think it is a good idea. The Times could not deduce that one way to tell if "a brown-skinned person is here illegally" is whether or not they can speak English, a requirement of citizenship.

A Tampa reader who tipped me off to the story mentioned the front page headline that was not represented online: "A small Pennsylvania city proposes one of the nation's toughest crackdowns on immigrants, who say blaming them for recent trouble is racist. Now they are both saying: Enough, already!"

Notice anything missing? The word "illegal." The law proposed in Hazleton does not crack down on those who employ legal immigrants. It specifically targets employers of illegal immigrants.