Friday, January 25, 2008

Did The Media Drop the Ball on the Jena Story?

THE STORY OF what happened in Jena, Louisiana made international news. Eventually.

It wasn't until long after the initial events that the national media wrote about the racially-charged incidents in the sleepy little town. It was nearly a full year before the case of the Jena 6 became an actual movement, complete with protests and rallies across the country (including here at Temple).

But why did it take so long? Was it too controversial for the mainstream media? Were the facts so disputed that no one wanted to touch the story?

And when the media finally covered the story, did they do so superficially, never really delving into the facts and details, such as Mychal Bell's prior arrest record?

Did the media fall into a trap set by radical bloggers?

10 comments:

Kayte Ljungquist said...

I could not believe all the press that came about with this story. Lots of information was no reported, just a haze of what happened, probably intending to cause a stir. I'm glad I haven't been hearing of this story, I think it needs to be left to that area.

Dani said...

Really though? How could we just leave it up to that area? I'm POSITIVE that Jena is not the only town in the US that deals with such racially charged issues, and by just leaving them to themselves, nothing will ever change. Didn't the Civil Rights Movement happen 40 years ago? Why are we still struggling to have equal rights for people of all races?
The answer is simple: while laws might have changed, people's mind have not. And as long as the media continues to NOT cover controversial issues such as the Jena 6, the US will continue to produce ignorant and racist people such as Jena's DA.
As far as the depth of the coverage..it might have been vague. But it was vague enough to cause a stir and propel people to learn more about it. I learned about it more through word of mouth than through actual media, so either way the information got around.

Jeff Frandsen said...

to me, it seemed as if the media didn't even tell us everything we needed to know about the events. Even working at a television station myself, I found the producers trying to dig for more information to clearly state every side of the entire story. I feel as if the media just skimmed the true meaning behind the story and just said "you should care because this is a racial incident." When the news did hit though, it was like STORM. It was remarkable. One day, you've never even heard of Jena, the next day, people are protesting everywhere. Jena, Louisiana is FAR from the only place this kind of stuff goes on.

Kayte Ljungquist said...

I agree that Jena is not the only place that this stuff happens. BUt when you have kids at Temple protesting something that happened a year before that. Why did they care then and not when it happened? The media BARELY told the whole situation. An yes, some minds have not changed, but do you really think that doing what the media did will help? No. It just makes things harded because those kids still in jail had a reason to still be in jail. And when they don't tell the whole story and people get it, it just makes them more secure in there opinions.

number said...
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Maggie R said...

I remember very suddenly hearing about the Jena 6 and reading a few local news articles detailing the recently jailed status of some of the kids involved. I remember being confused and wondering how I had missed previous coverage of such a story, to only read about it now, so far progressed... but then I realized there had been no previous coverage.

The linked article to the American Journalism Review provides a few very compelling facts that I hadn't read before, specifically the fact that Mychal Bell had a criminal record consisting of "four previous violent crimes." Also interesting is the actual depth of reprimand the noose-hanging kids received, which was much more thorough than 3 days suspension. ALSO, the fact that the victim of the beating had actually been severely beaten ("blood coming out of his ears" says a lot) implies MUCH more than just a "schoolyard fight."

The national reporters claim that the details surrounding the main points of interest were trivial, which I honestly don't believe. Ignoring all these details removed the shades of grey surrounding a situation that was largely reported as a black-and-white lot of hate crimes. It's ignorance propelling ignorance.

Nick Vadala said...

It seems to me that there was a lot of confusion or misinformation going on throughout the Jena story, and therefore the media more or less could not have covered the story well enough. I don't know that it was too controversial for the mainstream media, but it was certainly something that needed to be treated with great care.

L.Engleman said...

In my opinion, the media coverage of this story was a joke. Maybe it was because it's embarrassing to admit this is still happening in America so long after the Civil Rights Movement, amongst a generation that was supposed to be more enlightened. Regardless, it is the job of journalists to provide information, not buy into the "hush-hush" mentality. A story like this shouldn't have derailed the media, but rather intrigued them. There is no excuse for coverage of the story taking as long as it did, or being as mild as it was.

As for the protests, it made me feel good to be reassured that there are young people who still demand justice and aren't afraid to speak out. I thought perhaps our generation had lost that.

ciara said...

Its very odd that the media took so long to actually talk about the situation. But in my opinion, once they did start broadcasting information on it, it was overkill. It was an aweful situation, but wouldnt u think you should tell the whole story before even mentioning it to the public?
but comeone do you honestly think that the news would give the full story on something? they just want an attention getter.

lkc said...

i also feel like i suddenly heard about it. saw some things on campus and some local articles. my aunt lives in New Orleans and when i called her about all the commotion she told me that it wasnt a huge news story there. shes the one that told me it happened almost a year prior and thought it was crazy that kids in northern states were protesting.
im not saying that it wasnt a huge deal or that it wasnt newsworthy but the media definitely should have brought it to the attention of the public much sooner