Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
As podcasts grow, the podcast freelance economy takes shape
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
July 17, 2012, 12:28 p.m.
Reporting & Production
buffalo-news

From Nieman Reports: After the shouting, bridging the divide

Incoming New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan shares lessons learned in her controversial handling of a high-profile crime story.

Editor’s Note: Our colleagues upstairs at Nieman Reports are out with their Summer 2012 issue, “Truth in the Age of Social Media,” which focuses on issues like verification, crowdsourcing, and citizen journalism. We’ve been giving you a glimpse at some of their stories, but make sure to read the issue in full. In this piece, Buffalo News Editor Margaret Sullivan — who was announced Monday as The New York Times’ new public editor — reflects on victims in the media, and the tension between journalistic sensitivity and a desire to be provocative.

As I watched media coverage of the racially charged shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida earlier this year, I found myself thinking about sensitivity and respect. Those issues were big ones for me and The Buffalo News in New York two summers ago.

As Geraldo Rivera of Fox News declared that black teens should avoid wearing hooded sweatshirts and some spectators gleefully welcomed revelations about Martin’s less-then-angelic past behavior, all of the questions came flooding back. How can we best avoid blaming the victim? Doesn’t the public have the right to know all the facts, not just the ones that support a particular point of view? How do placement and emphasis (in newspaper terms, a front-page headline versus three paragraphs at the end of a story) figure into media decision-making? How does the desire to be provocative (consider Rivera’s March 22 tweet: “His hoodie killed Trayvon Martin as surely as George Zimmerman”) weigh against responsible commentary and reporting?

As race-oriented stories continue to emerge—and they surely will—those questions deserve to be thought about and talked about in newsrooms. And we can do that most effectively if we broaden the base of those in our conversations, recognizing that diversity is more than numbers; it’s the power of what happens when different voices are truly heard. This reality was brought home to me in the aftermath of the furor that erupted in Buffalo’s black community over a story the News published in August 2010.

The bloodiest crime in the city’s recent history began as a wedding party. Actually, it was a year-after-the-wedding party for a Buffalo couple who had moved to Texas and married there but had come back to celebrate with hometown friends. The setting was City Grill, an upscale restaurant downtown.

Keep reading at Nieman Reports »

POSTED     July 17, 2012, 12:28 p.m.
SEE MORE ON Reporting & Production
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
As podcasts grow, the podcast freelance economy takes shape
AIR has come up with suggested rates of compensation for those who do freelance work for podcasts, where a new injection of for-profit companies is complicating the math of public media.
A program in New Jersey is trying to get people to care about local news through community organizing
Free Press’ News Voices: New Jersey is meant to be “community-driven as opposed to being newsroom-driven.”
Scratch Magazine was profitable, but it’s still shutting down — here’s what its founder learned
Scratch Magazine toed the line between “servicey and intellectual,” cofounder Manjula Martin says. That was one reason the paywalled site didn’t make much money.
What to read next
2843
tweets
A blow for mobile advertising: The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads
Think making money on mobile advertising is hard now? Think how much more difficult it will be with a significant share of your audience is blocking all your ads — all with a simple download from the App Store.
1763For news organizations, this was the most important set of Apple announcements in years
A new Flipboard-clone with massive potential reach, R.I.P. Newsstand, and news stories embedded deeper inside iOS — it was a big day for news on iPhones and iPads.
828Newsonomics: 10 numbers that define the news business today
From video to social, from mobile to paywalls — these data points help define where we are in the “future of news” today, like it or not.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Mashable
Tumblr
Davis Wiki
Mozilla
Google
Quartz
Storify
TBD
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
New England Center for Investigative Reporting
InvestigateWest
San Francisco Chronicle