Chron weekend olds - part one
After Chronicle reader representative James Campbell's blunt, critical blog post on his newspaper's decision to bury its coverage of the recent elections in Iraq on page A23, we thought perhaps Campbell would develop that blog post into a timely column for the Sunday print edition, giving his criticism of the blunder a large Sunday print audience instead of the comparatively miniscule web audience.
The turnaround time must have been too short for the Sunday print deadline. Instead, Campbell's column today was largely a reprint of a July 2005 blog post that tried to argue that Chronicle decisions not to identify perpetrators of crimes by race are not motivated by political correctness (except when they are).
From the column:
Political correctness does not prevent the Chronicle and other news media organizations from regularly reporting the race of a suspect. Actually, the reason is more practical than it is PC, though I'll concede that we do at times err on the side of sensitivity.
We're not politically correct. We're just sensitive.
We would have thought the arguments advanced in this column would have been tightened up and improved over the last five months, especially given all the comments generated by the original post, our criticism here, and criticism at Lone Star Times (here and here).
I tend to agree with Banjo Jones, who commented in Campbell's earlier post:
If a criminal is active in my neighborhood, I would want to know the suspect's race, whether or not there is a more detailed description. At least it's something. You're being disingenuous in saying the newspaper's policy is not rooted in political correctness. Instead of deciding what is or isn't relevant, why not let the reading public decide? The Connie Chung-Dan Rather example isn't relevant, unless Connie & Dan have resorted to a life of crime. A newspaper's obligation is to print the truth, not worry about whether the truth incites some groups or feeds stereotypes. Race (and gender) are two of the most basic identifying characteristics. Your policy doesn't make any sense.
I might be insensitive, but I prefer more information to less.