Chicago Tribune readers question failure to mention race in attacks

Chicago Tribune | Chicago Now

Chicago's recent downtown "flash mob" attacks have made the front-pages and led local TV newscasts, but Mary Schmich points out that what "you haven't read in the Tribune or seen explicitly stated by most of the official media [is that] the young men were black." She quotes a reader:

I can't imagine that if a gang of white teenagers went to the South Side of Chicago and began attacking African-Americans including a 68-year-old that the race card would be left out of your coverage. ... I see a media double standard here.

Schmich's view:

I'm ambivalent about the omission of the attackers' race in the news accounts, but I think I would have decided to leave it out too.

As an editor pointed out when I asked about it, the crimes don't appear to be racially motivated. There's no sign the criminals picked victims because they were of a certain race. They picked them because they had certain stuff.

Former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Dennis Byrne wants the media to identify the race of the aggressors and victims. "It is information that we all need to help understand and solve the problem. It's a symptom of a hurt crying for a cure," he writes.

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his MediaGossip.com, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.

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