Reporter on 1991 Crown Heights riots coverage: ‘I saw journalism go terribly wrong’

August 11, 2011
Category: Uncategorized

The Jewish Week
Ari Goldman was a New York Times religion writer assigned to file memos for the “rewrite” desk about what he saw and heard while covering the riots that broke out on the streets of Crown Heights the night of Aug. 19, 1991. “When I picked up the paper, the article I read was not the story I had reported,” he says. “In all my reporting during the riots I never saw – or heard of – any violence by Jews against blacks. But the Times was dedicated to this version of events: blacks and Jews clashing amid racial tensions.” He continues:

I was outraged but I held my tongue. I was a loyal Times employee and deferred to my editors. I figured that other reporters on the streets were witnessing parts of the story I was not seeing.

But then I reached my breaking point. On Aug. 21, as I stood in a group of chasidic men in front of the Lubavitch headquarters, a group of demonstrators were coming down Eastern Parkway. “Heil Hitler,” they chanted. “Death to the Jews.”

Police in riot gear stood nearby but did nothing.


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