Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Issue Facing Journalism: How Would You Handle This Story?

A TEMPLE STUDENT WORKING on a story for MURL was allowed to interview and ride along with a young Philadelphia police officer.

In the story, which focused on the relationship between the police and the people they protect and serve in the 22nd District (just west of TU), the 24-year old officer said some off-color stuff.

“People in this neighborhood don’t care about each other,” the officer said, according to the article. “They’ll shoot each other for drugs, for money, for bulls---. All they care about is their reputation. They want to look tough.”

Later in the story, it actually got worse:

“These people are f------ disgusting. It’s like they’re animals,” the officer is quoted saying.

The officer is white, and the 22nd is a predominantly African American neighborhood.

After responding to a situation that has calmed by the time police arrive, the officer says, "TNS. Typical N----- S---.”

Would you have published this story? How would you have handled this? Is it fair to use the police officer's name? Would you have contacted other people, as the Daily News did in a follow up story? Would you have contacted the officer's superiors?

Read the original story here.

Is it good journalism? Does it benefit anyone?

(Here is a link to a Fox29 interview with the student journalist).

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would have handled the story the same was as the Temple reporter and I would have published the name of the officer. There is too much tension between the African-American community and police officers. I feel that if we do not address the issue it will only get worse and in that neighborhood it could lead to a violent confrontation. I also think that the officer should be transferred out of the 22nd district because he doesn’t seem to care about the people he is supposed to protect. This is great journalism because it draws attention to a serious problem.

-Anthony Brown

B.Y.T said...

i would have probably handled the situation the same way. except that i might not have posted "TNS". the officer saying that is unacceptable and there might be reprecutions, as well as backlash from the community. having posted what the officer said might actualy pose a threat to police officers in that area if someone from that neighborhood were to here the way the officers spoke. for that reason i would have maybe held back on "TNS". is it news? definitly! but a person's saftey comes first.

Joel Mason-Gaines said...

I would have written it as well. The truth must be told, and at times it is often ugly. It did take balls for the person to publish it because if they live in Philly then that person is probably going to face police scrutiny and/or harassment. I don't know if I would have taken it to the Daily News because I might be worried that they would take advantage of a poor college student and steal the story for themselves.

Greg Trainor said...

This is a great story! Although it seems more like luck than good journalism. I can't believe that officer was that stupid. What he said was more than dumb. It is self destructive. It sounds like he was fed up with being a cop, and subconsciously ridding himself of a job.

The only place the journalist failed was by not going further with the story, getting the community response, and the response from his boss.

As far as safety of the police: I'm Irish, I have cops and firefighters in my family. I am also an EMT, and have worked with cops a lot. This isn't the first time I've heard a cop say TNS.

Regardless, when a cop makes the mistake of saying something like that in front of a journalist it is your responsibility to print it. Because that's how most of them feel, and it's important that the people know that.

The article is also at the same time telling the story of cops worn down in North Philly. These guys do see this shit every day. Which is why cops make racist jokes. They are venting. I don't condone it, but I do understand where they are coming.

I also know that things like this need to be written about even more, because the way the job affects the cops creates in them a cruel vision of humanity, and that affects how they do their jobs, which then begets more crime.

Anonymous said...

I think the article was well written, and would have probably handled the situation as the writer. As journalists we have to remain objective and state the facts, if not the story could be compromised. I am sure the writer was disgusted by the officers' language and rationale, but her job doesn't require her to change their behavior, just report how their behavior may or may not effect their job performance. I was not shocked after reading the article. If you live/lived in a working class or poor minority neighborhood, you know the tension/relationship between the community and the police. What does bother me( this wasn't apart of the article) is the media's constant contribution to the problem. How? Well, in my opinion a police officer's life isn't above my own or anyone else. And it pains me to watch the news and get detail reports about an officer who was shot, yet get a brief description about those in our community. Also the media doesn't question the "ever-so-many" police homicides. Why is it that most suspect/people are killed by police, when they suspect them of having a weapon? Why can't they shot to disarm, instead of a fatality? I questioned this.


Sherae Moore

Patty Giron said...

What did the police officer say that was racist? I did not read anything that said african american people suck.. race doesn't exist first of all, were all human, thats it. There is still a HUGE gap between "whites" asians, "blacks", hispanics.. its a gap made up of annual income, what music is listened to, what clothes brand we rock and how we present ourselves, you know what there are some shitty african american people who are destroying this city and cause havic, there are white people who are having too many babies and not being able raise them, there are illegal hispanics working their asses off to feed your mouths. I hate this talk of race, I hate that people get so fucking offended because something is said and was taken the wrong way. Im a girl of mixed cultures and I have to deal with not really having a full identity and I hate "racist" remarks, but people need to start acting smart and using their brains..I cant even go on because there is just so much to this topic.AHHH

Patty Giron said...

ok.. so I was a little upset writing that.. the officer did supposedly say N-shit... yeh, thats ridiculous, but that doesn't mean the officer is wrong in how he feels about the community, how can he be happy with job when the people who he is trying to protect are shooting each other for nothing, I don't even know what to say about this, it should have been published with two sides.. sorry

Ashley Kraynak said...

Considering I live two blocks away from that police station, on Bouvier St, I am horrified that the cop came from 17th and Montgomery, and would make those kinds of remarks about the local residents. The residents on my street make sure I get into my house safely at night, and shovel my sidewalks when it snows, and have block parties in the summer that everyone is invited to, and I know they do not want to be associated with comments like that.
My personal feelings aside, I still feel that,as a journalist, I would list the officers name, if for no other reason than to create the controvery that leads him towards a lesson learned. I would also follow up with other members of the 22nd District to see if his behavior is uniform. This is just an awful story, and I hope that the surrounding residents of the 22nd District do not hear of this man's ignorance!

Megan Minner said...

I would have definitely published this story. I think that the student was violating no ethical rules and was being a true journalist who gave the story for what it is worth. Like Geo tells us, journalists are not supposed to interpret the story. And she did just that. The readers of the article may have taken in different perspectives of the words, however, it was true fact and true quotes. She wasn't hiding anything, and should have to. I give her a lot of credit. It was kind of bold, but deserving of recognition.

Anonymous said...

I don't think i would have published the officer's name. I feel like his safety could be compromised because of this story.

- Dina Maslennikova

Stephanie Klock said...

I think this story is amazing. It serves the community, it is the truth. It is an issue that needs to be addressed. I read an article in Sociology about how many people in the urban ghetto must impose their own set of rules, or the "code of the streets", because they do not believe police officers protect them and must find their own way to protect themselves. If the police officers are not serving them or are out to get them this attitude is justified and the cycle of violence continues.

I would also like to comment on the article Daily News wrote and how the cops are questioning her "journalistic abilies" because she is a college student. I do believe she has been involved in the Temple News for many years and has much experience. Don't blame "journalistic abilities" on the officers ignorance and stupidity for saying these things in front of a journalist!

They are just mad because she let the truth be told.

I give her props for a great story and hopefully the story continues and the topic doesn't all the sudden "disappear."

See movie Changeling for police corruption :)

Ariana Gaillard said...

I would have written the story as well. It's a shame that the relationship between civilians (especially African-Amercian civilians) and the police are so poor, but this is just a small indication of why it is that way. Obviously, the police officer was comfortable enough to be that candid with the student and therefore, he should have no problem seeing his name as well as his ignorant, racist comments in print. The TU journalist was just doing his job by printing out exactly what the police officer said. This, to me, is journalism. Good, bad or ugly, the facts must be reported.
Also, I disagree with the comment that race doesn't exist. Clearly, it does. If there was some sort of homogeneity, then I really don't think there would be a need for statements like the ones the police officer made, but he did. While he did not say verbatim, "African-American people suck", he did say, "Typical n----r s--t". Unless n----r means something else, I'm pretty sure that's a derogatory term used to refer to African-Americans. Yes, there are people from all races that do things to destroy the values of this country, but I really don't think it's a coincidence that some (yes, I said some) of these police officers think that way. I'm an African-American female from NYC and racially charged occurrences between citizens and the police are commonplace (if you don't think so, look up the cases of Sean Bell, Abner Louima, and Amadou Diallo just to name a few). This story is really no surprise to me, but people really need to look at the situation for what it is. There is obviously no trust or respect between the police and African-Americans and stories like this only prove that notion right.

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is not going to help mend any relationships with the citizens of the 22nd district and the police. That video posted a few months ago shows alot of how the two sides interact.
That police officer was extremly ignorant to say that and make all his co-workers look bad as well. He could lose his job over that. That is a tough situation to be in as the author of this story. The officer was nice enough to talk to you but at the same time when he drops a bombshell like that, you HAVE to print it.
Jeff McDevitt

Lara Taylor said...

This is deffinately news, and I would have handled the situation completely the same way as the TU reporter. The way this police officer spoke about his job (in front of a student reporter no less) shows his lack of respect for the people he's suposed to be protecting and this behavior could lead to some serious problems down the line if it wasn't brought to attention.

Anonymous said...

The cop was stupid and if this story is true, needs to be disciplined pretty damn harshly. My thoughts are that he was trying to impress the pretty journalism student.
To Sherae, police are not trained to shoot to disarm. Shooting the gun out of someones hand is all Hollywood. Police are trained to shoot at center mass (the biggest target)
Paul Klein

Anonymous said...

Just to start: "The mission of the Philadelphia Police Department is to fight crime and the fear of crime... and improve the quality of life for all Philadelphians."
Okay. Considering all the attention is given to Officer Thrasher's quote's, what's the point of the rest of her coverage? No one is acknowledging the other points in the story that (not to be blunt) support Thrasher's quote of civilians "being animals". For example, the story states "A man was shot 19 times on the 2400 block of Nicholas Street. At 2100 Newkirk St., a 17-year-old boy was shot several times by a friend for $120.",& so on..????..I pose the question as to why this wouldn't be interpreted as "animalistic"?? He was definitely wrong for calling the people "f'in disgusting", but I see no reason to disagree that one of the most violent sections of Philadelphia, metaphorically speaking, can be considered a jungle. Also, I would have definitely published his name. Safety? By choice he risks his life everyday being a cop. Moreover, I would have contacted the officer's superior's and got a second opinion and perspective on the district and it's civilians. Then proceeded to see what they thought of Thrasher's comments. Also considering there are plenty of African American and Hispanic cops, I would have definitely tried to see what they do about, or during, the "cop lingo"??
Maria Santilli

Anonymous said...

I would have handled this story the same way and published it 100 times over. It is completely fair to use the officer's name, if that is the way he thinks about the people he is supposed to be protecting his thoughts should be published. Citizens of North Philly should know that the police officers only think of them as bad people. No one should trust the police if this is their view on racism.
Keith Sansoni

Nodizz said...

I would have definitely published it. I think that story's name answers that question: "relationship between the police and the people they protect". If all officers think like this guy there is no frame work for improvement. Only thing I am not so sure I would mention in the story is how this officer referred to a situation as "typical N---- B------". I think it is a little risky considering the already hostile environment. I thought it was very good work on the journalists part though.

Anonymous said...

As a photographer for Temple News, I would not have run this story. I pick up any story I can, and I try to get the material that my editors want. The juicier my photographs, the more money I get. And this money is essential, because I live off of it. But I would never, firstly as a man, and secondly as a journalist, run (or even report) this story. Shannon McDonald may be a wonderful reporter. Personally, it is her behavior that I find disgusting and unethical.

To say that Shannon could have acted in a more gentlemanly manner might be sexist, but she definitely could have shown more respect and integrity. The idea that anything sensational and debatable is news is complete horseshit. I have no respect for journalists who do this, and I personally consider them the scum of the profession. I have a lot of respect for people who put their jobs and careers on the line every day. Shannon McDonald is not this person. Bill Thrasher is. Am I saying that Thrasher should be held unaccountable for his actions? No. But he works in an environment that is both disturbingly violent and irritatingly stressful. Furthermore, he allowed this "journalist" to shadow and interview him and for what? So she could defame him and get her name in print? Or maybe receive a few minutes of fame on a local television station?

I have to call people up and schedule shoots every week. For hours, I call complete strangers and ask for their time. As a working journalist - as someone who wants to make a positive impact on my community and still put bread on the table - I think it is crucial to do your job. But when someone takes the time to help you out, you owe them.

Now some of you might be journalists. You might be reading that last statement and you might be feeling outraged. You might think of yourself as a watchdog. But the problem with being a watchdog is that even a dumb watchdog can bite a friend.

That being said, I can only stress what I would have done:

I would have not reported the offensive comments made by the officer. I would have shadowed him. I would have interviewed him. I would have thanked him for giving me his time.

To the people above saying that this article tells the truth, that it does not interpret: you need to learn how to read. I've spent the last four years of my life writing. I took courses in creative writing, in journalistic writing, and I also took AP courses. Shannon is without a doubt a great writer. But she isn't reporting facts without jazzing them up.

"As he drives back toward Strawberry Mansion, Thrasher continues to point out crime scenes, eager to prove his words and actions stem from 18 months of exposure to black-on-black crime, and not from racism."

This is not even or factual reporting. This is editorializing.

"The animosity between the black communities in North Philadelphia and the 22nd police district is cyclical. Crime begets more police, begets crime, and so on, but it is unclear when and where the cycle began."

This is not even or factual reporting either. Once again, this is editorializing.

As a journalist and as a resident of Philadelphia, I find Shannon's actions humiliating and embarrassing. Not only does this create a negative image of the city she works in, but it also gives journalists a bad name. (How eager do you think the 22nd Precinct will be in the future to allow another Temple journalist to shadow one of their officers?) Furthermore, Shannon describes the officer's age, eye color, and hair, as well as disclosing his name. Now not only are you showing yourself to be a ungrateful reporter, but you're also putting an officer's life and career in jeopardy.

All so you could get your rocks off thinking your a hero. Congratulations bitch, I'm ashamed we attend the same school.

Anonymous said...

As a photographer for Temple News, I would not have run this story. I pick up any story I can, and I try to get the material that my editors want. The juicier my photographs, the more money I get. And this money is essential, because I live off of it. But I would never, firstly as a man, and secondly as a journalist, run (or even report) this story. Personally, I find her behavior disgusting and unethical.

To say that Shannon could have acted in a more gentlemanly manner might be sexist, but she definitely could have shown more respect and integrity. The idea that anything sensational and debatable is news is complete bullshit. I have no respect for journalists who do this, and I personally consider them the scum of the profession. I have a lot of respect for people who put their jobs and careers on the line every day. Shannon McDonald is not this person. Bill Thrasher is. Am I saying that Thrasher should not be held unaccountable for his actions? No. But he works in an environment that is both disturbingly violent and irritatingly stressful. Furthermore, he allowed this "journalist" to shadow and interview him and for what? So she could defame him and get her name in print? Or maybe receive a few minutes of fame on a local television station?

I have to call people up and schedule shoots every week. For hours, I call complete strangers and ask for their time. As a working journalist - as someone who wants to make a positive impact on my community and still put bread on the table - I think it is crucial to do your job. But when someone takes the time to help you out, you owe them.

Now some of you might be journalists. You might be reading that last statement and you might be feeling outraged. You might think of yourself as a watchdog. But the problem with being a watchdog is that even a dumb watchdog can bite a friend.

That being said, I can only stress what I would have done:

I would have not reported the offensive comments made by the officer. I would have shadowed him. I would have interviewed him. I would have thanked him for giving me his time.

To the people above saying that this article tells the truth, that it does not interpret: you need to learn how to read. I've spent the last four years of my life writing. I took courses in creative writing, in journalistic writing, and I also took AP courses. Shannon is without a doubt a great writer. But she isn't reporting facts without jazzing them up.

"As he drives back toward Strawberry Mansion, Thrasher continues to point out crime scenes, eager to prove his words and actions stem from 18 months of exposure to black-on-black crime, and not from racism."

This is not even or factual reporting. This is editorializing.

"The animosity between the black communities in North Philadelphia and the 22nd police district is cyclical. Crime begets more police, begets crime, and so on, but it is unclear when and where the cycle began."

This is not even or factual reporting either. Once again, this is editorializing.

As a journalist and as a resident of Philadelphia, I find Shannon's actions humiliating and embarrassing. Not only does this create a negative image of the city she works in, but it also gives journalists a bad name. (How eager do you think the 22nd Precinct will be in the future to allow another Temple journalist to shadow one of their officers?) Furthermore, Shannon describes the officer's age, eye color, and hair, as well as disclosing his name. Now not only are you showing yourself to be a ungrateful reporter, but you're also putting an officer's life and career in jeopardy.

All so you could get your rocks off thinking you're a hero. Congratulations bitch, I'm ashamed we attend the same school.

Geo said...

Opinions from all perspectives are welcome, always. The only rules are that you stand by your opinions by signing your name, and no name calling.

- George
(the teacher who shot the photo on the top of the post while doing a ride along with a cop last year)

Anonymous said...

It is amazing that he got those quotes...probably the fact that he was a college reporter and the officer was 24 helped. i think it's an important story which illustrates the very real problems with law enforcement in philadelphia and big cities across the country. to cops, it is us and them and very often the "them" is young african american men. having grown up here, i can tell you that i've never feared the philadelphia police...they've never hassled me i never feel any scrutiny from them. i'm not who they are worried about, they look at me as just a harmless kid...which i am, but which is not how they look at equally harmless black kids. this is an uncomfortable fact but it is a fact and it is born out in statistics...consider the fact that agrican americans make up about 13% of drug USERS in america(about equal to their share of the total population) but fully one third of those arrested and charged with drug related crimes in this country are black.

i think it's an important story, especially at a time when obama's election may be causing some to paper over the racial issues that still undoubtedly exist. also, the local press has done an awful lot of glorification of the philadelphia police lately...pawlowski was just about canonized. and of course, the police do dangerous work as a public service which should be respected and it is tragic when one is shot down in the line of duty. not more tragic in my eyes than the slaying of some anonymous 15 year old in southwest, but still tragic. interesting also to note that the officer quoted is quite young...younger officers often tend to be more hotheaded and more likely to place themselves and others in dangerous situations. officer pawlowski also was very young.

anyway, my point is that in showing the other side of the coin...the side of philadelphia law enforcement that isn't so heroic and noble...the truth is served and the most essential journalistic commitment is fulfilled

Anonymous said...

sorry, left off my name. eamon tisdall

Anonymous said...

The reason why a police officers death is such a big deal is because if a slime ball has no problem killing a cop, said slime ball has absolutly no problem killing you.
Paul Klein
former student, Paramedic PFD working the same bloody streets as the cops do.

John Williams said...

I would have handled the situation similarly. I believe that since the nature of the story was in regards to the relationship between officers and the community that they serve, it is important to get the point across. The only way to allow for change is to recognize what needs to change. I would not have published the police officer's name in the article for his own protection and partially out of an internal morality and forgiveness dilemma.

Also, I disagree with the last comment: "if a slime ball has no problem killing a cop, said slime ball has absolutly no problem killing you." I stand firmly in the belief that there is much more hatred towards the authority of a cop than towards "you" (unless of course "you" are a cop).

Geo said...

Question: if you don't publish the officer's name, doesn't it make the entire force sound racist rather than just one dude?

- George
(the teacher who doesn't know the answer ... for real)

KevinRGold (j1111 class) said...

This is one that requires much thinking. Due to the hostility between the African American community and the police of Philadelphia, the comments made by this office were ridiculous and if the officer name was given (which I believe in this case shouldnt be, for the sake of his safety) he could have been facing some serious trouble. On a better note, I think this is good journalism. The fact that the student was about to get this story and make it as far as it did, being the type of issue it presents was a good thing

Jasmine Taylor said...

I don't think that Shannon's choice to publish the officer's name alleviates any presumptions of the whole force appearing racist. In fact, by singling this guy out and giving such a detailed description of his appearance, she's putting a face on the issue and giving rise to a stereotype of racist white cops.
I'm not trying to justify the slurs Thrasher made, but he's just one guy. We shouldn't let one student's experience lead us to believe that all officers are prejudice bigots.
As much as I enjoyed reading Shannon's article, I agree with others that she revealed too much of her own perspective. Journalists are supposed to let their readers interpret the facts, right?

John Williams said...

That is such a tough question. On on hand, singling out the officer does prevent an assumption that all of the officers think this. On the other, I still morally have an issue with ruining a man's life for things he said, regardless of how awful they may be.

Also, it is the job of the journalist to present the truth, which, would be to state the name of the officer. I think it is just a shame. The officer could also have said those things through a fear he may have developed. He faces many dangers on a daily basis and could have created a racial prejudice based on the fact that most crime in the area will be African American linked due to the mere fact that the 22nd is a predominantly African American neighborhood.

Not saying it is okay, but we'll never really know why he said what he said, so why sentence him to public hatred?

Still not sure, though.

J. Bell said...

I probably would have handled the situation in the same manner. Of course the officer would not have said the same things to me because I am African American. I guess the officer felt extremely comfortable with the student to mention such things. Maybe he thought that the journalist has similar views on Black People. The problem is that it wouldn't be right if the officer said to keep that off the record...

Daniela Stetser said...

I think that it is a good story and I would have published it regardless of the reprocussions he might expirence. The officer new the TU student was doing a story and he chose not to censor his words.I don't think what he said was appropiate However, I am not there on a daily basis to what happens and feel the only way to truly see where the judgement comes from is to walk in his shoes for a day. I agree with Williams, we will never really know why he said what he did.

Gianna Ciao said...

I think this story has the potential to be very controversial. I think the journalist's intentions were not meant to be bad, but what she is reporting are obviously going to stir up emotions and get people angry. As far as the officer's name being published, I do not think that was the smartest idea, nor was it smart to describe his physical appearance. If she is going to report what he said, which a lot of people are going to see as racist and take offense to, than his name should not be published. Yes, it was just one officer, but it is for his safety his name be witheld.

Someone who left a comment earlier made a really good point, that the officer is probably extremely fed up with the violence he sees everyday. I agree that other aspects of the story are not even being paid attention, like this quote for instance:

"A man was shot 19 times on the 2400 block of Nicholas Street. At 2100 Newkirk St., a 17-year-old boy was shot several times by a friend for $120. On Myrtlewood Street, a man died from multiple gunshot wounds in the stomach."

I think Philadelphia (communities and officers) need to start thinking of solutions to these problems (violence and hate), instead of emphasizing the conflict between the two groups.

Bobby Geary said...

I would have published the story just as the original student did. This kinda thing is unbearable and it happens all over Philly, I've first hand seen the racism of some Philly cops in action and it's deplorable. I am not sure if I would use the officer's name strictly because I don't think he knew what was and wasn't going to be put in the article. That area is a little grey at least to me but that issue of racist cops needs to be shown.

Anonymous said...

They both made mistakes. Shannon should not have purposefully turned this man into a target. She uncovered an injustice, which is a positive accomplishment but there's no need to ruin the reputation of one man, especially when it's a bigger problem in the police system than just one man. She is obviously feeling guilty because she hasn't been talking to anyone and hasn't been leaving her house. Thrasher, whether or not he truly feels the way he spoke, should have shut his mouth. He was being interviewed by a journalist, she is going to write what she hears, that's her job. Obviously not everyone was going to be happy with his opinion. If you don't want to feel the repercussions for sounding like an asshole, than don't make yourself sound like an asshole.

Geo said...

Who said that?

Sign your name! We're all friends here. We won't hunt you down.

- George
(the teacher known as George)

Amanda DiStefano said...

I skimmed through the comments so I am repetitious, my apologies. Anyway, this type of stuff (as in police behavior) has been going on since the Rizzo administration. My grandfather was a cop during it, and told me stories of how he got in trouble for being too "nice" to blacks. (He was white) This is the city that had half of west Philly burn down due to racism at one point...it exists...and not to be all Ice-T on this blog, but I am happy it is exposed.

Amanda DiStefano
(current JnS Student)

Alexander Narita said...

I believe that it is important to publish the name of the officer to make sure that the credibility of the entire force is protected so that not all of the police officers of the force are deemed to be racist

Anonymous said...

sorry that comment was me...Colleen Foley

Colleen Foley (again) said...

It is obviously not such a rare "problem" in the police force if the abbreviation "TNS" is thrown around like "10-4" or "roger that." I feel that the police who speak and feel that way are simply products of their environment. If you worked in an area for so long where people, no matter their color, religion, gender, etc. were killing each other for no reason and sometimes even trying to kill you, I think you would have some resentment towards that particular group of people. I doesn't make them racist, it makes them bitter. They are out on the streets day after day and it probably gets frustrating when no one really cares. I'm not saying that the slang is right, but for god's sake, we all go to Temple. These men protect us from what goes on in these neighborhoods everyday!! Let the men vent to each other! It is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Especially for a young rookie officer in the most crime-ridden section of one of the most crime-ridden cities of America. As for respecting the people you protect. Respect is earned, it is not a privilege. I would not have respect for someone (no matter who they are) who stood behind the barrel of a gun. So no, Thrasher should not have said that while in the presence of Shannon. And no, I do not condone the slang used. It is filthy. But at least, until now, they kept it among themselves. Cops get called "pigs" and other derogatory remarks to their faces everyday. Geez, I mean they have had to watch so many of their brothers perish on the streets over the last few years by cowards with guns. But as long as they take that in stride (god help them) and continue to protect north philly residents from themselves and others, then honestly leave them alone.

J.Reaves said...

This is typical racism; it is based of a lack of knowledge; these officers need to be educated about the determing factors which cause many of these communities to be the way they are; factors which inclde ; a degrading education system, proverty, police harrassment, neighborhoods of decay, family issues ( like children growing up without parents due to murder); the purpose of the police is to protect and serve; its nothing worng with showing the negives of n officer; it is imporant; and it is great journalism like stated b4 that highlighs the problems and tensions between the police and the communities they serve;

Caitlin Schaefer said...

Would McDonald's story have been good journalism if she left that out? Would it have been a truthful story if she left out the information about "TNS"? I don't see anything wrong with the article including the officer's name. If any person in ANY job said what he said, they would (or definitely should) be reported and punished for it. I think Officer Thrasher made a mistake when he used that term in front of McDonald. Maybe he did it because he felt that she was more of a peer to him because of their ages, but no matter what he should have understood that he was not only representing himself, but the entire Philadelphia Police Department. He not only made himself look bad, but he put the PPD in an awkward situation.

Anonymous said...

You somewhat made a contradiction to McDonald's story with your theory of the officer's lacking knowledge of the "determining factors". You stated the crucial points of a cyclical downward spiral that McDonald SHOULD have included in her story. Rather than her stating "crime begets more police" which "begets more crime". That is pure shit and she would wipe it off her mouth for writing that. The "determining factors" you described aren't anything that the officers are oblivious to. In any job, you understand all of it, the in's-and-out's, and therefore they are well fucking aware of the "determining factors". And referring to "the degrading education system"-- for instance the recent story about ten year olds selling weed in grade school? I hope the police didn't "harass" those innocent children. Because police "harassment" is SUUUCH a problem, and ten year olds dealing isn't. Right? No. Oh, And "Neighborhoods of decay"? For example- North Philadelphia... I'll stop there. There are plenty of good people in North Philadelphia that I personally know, do not get me wrong. And they are affected by the crime of their neighbors. Another example, Kensington; a predominately caucasian neighborhood. But you never hear about harassment with crime in Kensington. It must because police are different there and work a different job? No. Lets put it this way.. low-income resorts to desperation, which results in crime, especially when there is a drug addiction involved. And for your knowledge, drugs are real. But I sure as hell hope the police don't "harass" the civilians with heavy criminal backgrounds who are suspects of drug dealing. Because then that would screw up the chance of the ten-year olds to get some pot to sell during boxball. The only "negatives" of an officer here is the fact that they have to deal with the same breed that killed their partner. That is the only negative here. And when your Father, who is trying to bring home a paycheck for you to go to an established school where 10 year olds AREN'T selling drugs, when he gets shot in the head and killed... well, you get back to me about harsh derivatives and "determining factors". Like Thrasher stated "I work with black people everyday. They have jobs, they support their families, they're good people." Point proven. And PLUS, The Hispanic and African American officers experience the same job as the caucasian officers.. but everyone seems to forget that factor and simply focus on the "blue-eyed, blonde haired" officer Thrasher. Seriously? I must be crazy, but that is utterly naive.
Maria Santilli

Anonymous said...

I think, absolutely, she should have included the officer's racist quotes in her article. If the goal of her article was to explore the relationship between the police and the people they protect, this officer's comments are essential to the content of her article. Also, I think that these comments are not an isolated incident, but expose the disdain that a lot of police officers in philly have for the neighborhoods they protect.
-kathryn taylor

Ahna said...

It seemed to me that the officer wanted her to use all of the information he was giving her. In the Fox interview, Shannon said that she was writing everything he said as he spoke in the car. If he was afraid of ruining his reputation, he would have known better than to use that kind of language while a reporter, even just a student reporter, is listening. I think it's very courageous of Shannon to write this article without leaving out the dirty details. I think this story is good news because it reveals truth (if everything she says is in fact true), it's loyalty is to the citizens, it's an independent monitor of power and it pretty much follows all of the rest of the principles of journalism. Also, the story was so controversial that it's now being broadcasted all around the city. That's great! To make a stir is something a journalist should strive for.

Ahna Kolts said...

Oh sorry also my last name is Kolts. I've never put it in any of my other posts but I think I'm also the only Ahna with an H in my name in the class. I'll put my last name from now on.

Alexander Coyle said...

Yes, this is a useful news story. This story is exposing a major problem in Philadelphia. The problem being that we live in a 80% black city and we have racist white cops combing the streets. Not cool. Also in response to one of our students in class today (4/2) that stated that these cops have to deal with this problem daily, WAKE UP!! There is a viscous poverty cycle in Philadelphia that suppresses low income black people in these neighborhoods

John Birk said...

I think that Shannon wrote a well written and pertinent article however I'm not sure that this is uncovering anything. It seems like it is well known that there is animosity between people of the 22nd district and the Philadelphia Police that patrol that area. I think that this article forces that police to do something about it rather than let it go.

With that said, I think that a journalist, or anyone for that matter, needs to pick and choose his/her battles. If this is something that Shannon feels strongly about I commend her for standing up for what she believes in. However, if this is something that doesn't resonate with her as much as other things, perhaps she has merely put a target on her back and burned bridges in some circles. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I believe the story is newsworthy, simply because it satisfies human interest. It brings a prevalent issue in our society to the forefront. Racism is not dead but we should take as many measures as possible to educate and eliminate it.

-Kayla A. Lewis

Anonymous said...

I agree with this reporter in publishing the story. For starters the story is very newsworthy. It forfills human interest and in a way has a sense of conflict. Also, it is very important to bring issues such as racism to the communities attention, especially if the community is as diverse as Philadelphia is. We shouldn't want a police officer protecting us if they do not have any of our best interests at mind.

-Megan Lewis

John Williams said...

After more thought, I stand by the idea that article should have been published and without his name. I wouldn't personally want to carry the burden on my shoulder that I could possibly have destroyed a man's career and future and even put him at risk for hate crimes.

Andrea Symonds said...

I would have definitely published the story because this is what journalism is all about; the truth. I know many feel that the student journalist could have done more research on the Police Dept instead of talking about one officer, but maybe that wasn't possible. She may have had a deadline or a limited amount of time to finish. All students procrastinate, I'm not saying that's what happened here but it is apossibility.

Anonymous said...

This is what journalism is all about- uncovering stories that get overlooked, that people clearly have interest in. This is not the first instance I have heard "TNS" come out of the mouth of an officer, yet no one writes the article about the police officer that exhibits such biased, ignorant hate towards the community he is supposed to protect; just about what happens when those officers get shot by the same people they are in such conflict with. I know, that statement comes off quite harsh- however, if you really examine the light in which police officers are held in the media, in contrast to the media portrayal of the poorer communities of Philadelphia, you see amazing disparities. Aside from my personal beliefs, I believe that this journalist did nothing wrong in reporting the story as it unfolded to her. Mentioning the name of the individual officer was a wise decision, as if she had left it out, the entire force may have been persecuted for one man's loose lips (although, it was beneficial to her article that she mentioned Officer Thrasher saying these comments to his superior.. who did nothing).

-Angelina Thoman

Anonymous said...

This is a question of ethics that I'm honestly having a hard time trying to answer. The student, Shannon, obviously wanted to report a story about the way cops view the people they're supposed to protect, yet her article is only centered around the one officer, Thrasher, that she got to shadow. If what she writes in her article is true and Thrasher did say those things, then it's obvious he was relaying his feelings towards the matter at hand, but who's to say he speaks for everyone else in the district? Maybe that's why she mentioned his name, so as not to project those views onto the whole 22nd police district. However, now Thrasher is in a steep situation with his reputation and career, because she disclosed his name, along with description of what he looks like. This puts him in a very compromising, and even dangerous, position. Thrasher can quite possibly become the target of many threats or attempts on his life (I say possibly, because those things might not even happen). I really didn't read too much of the other comments (just lightly skimmed), so it's very likely that I'm being very repetitive, but to me this whole situation is pretty difficult to gauge in terms of "Did she go too far or not far enough?" If she wanted to use his name, she should have probably interviewed more people within the force/district. That way, her story would probably be more credible.
As for whether or not this is good journalism, again, I don't know. The point of journalism is to be a watchdog and to report the truth. Shannon watched and she reported what she claims to be the truth. Yet, maybe it was her method of putting the words down on paper that people are having a hard time swallowing. Maybe, they think that she made Thrasher out to be a bad guy, in which case, she would have interpreted the story. But, then it can be argued "Well, if he did in fact say those things then the public, particularly those in the Strawberry Mansion are, deserve to know what a 'protector of peace' in their district truly feels about them." In this case, Shannon's story is beneficial and informative. Either which way, I don't know.
Honestly, I didn't really post this so much as some one with an opinion, but more of an observer/reader. It is without a doubt an interesting and complex situation.

Alexandra Strockyj

Reilly Fies said...

Honestly, I don't know what I would do. It's a gray area. If I had the intentions of publishing the story for the public to see, I don't think I would have revealed the officer's name, and possibly not even said what police district it was in. (I don't know what the guidelines and requirements for her project were, though.)

Now that I've been thinking about it some more, I would have gone on multiple trips with different officers from that district, and possibly other districts too - turning it into a truly investigative report.

Chris Audesirk said...

This is legit reporting. I think more investigating of this nature is needed in our craft. We know this sort of thing is happening in our community so we should expose it. Good Job..

Anonymous said...

I think she handled the story the best she could. As a journalist she is reporting the truth to the citizens, which is exactly what she did. I think she should have included the officer's name and the district because it exposes the truth and puts the issue out in the open. Now this issue of police racism is being addressed and superiors are being forced to take action about it.
Samantha Pittounicos

Erica said...

I feel that this article is news and as many people have stated before it deals with a real and serious issue. Shit is happening in North Philly, unnecessary shootings and deaths as well as theft and fights. THe police officer although should not have brought the N word into the situation was only stating what is going on in this city and the reported was simply reporting it. We the people have a right to know what officers are saying and they also have a right to their own opinion. If thrasher feels so passionatly about all the hate in this area and it is coming off that way than he should probably talk to somebody about getting relocated on because it is now an issue of safety. People know his name and people do not care about what they do to others. Thrasher could be next in this game of hate and that is the biggest concern at hand. Is it news? Yes. did the journalist keep an objective point of view and report the truth yes and in a professional manner.
Erica Buyer

Emily Hunter said...

This story is obviously very controversial, but I think it needed to be told. I understand the officer has a very stressful job in a dangerous environment, but if this situation causes him to feel racial prejudice, he should really keep it to himself. How dumb can you be to say such appalling comments to a college reporter? Journalists are always looking for a good story; a racist police officer badmouthing the citizens he's supposed to protect? That story is gold. Shannon really only did the obvious by going through and publishing this story.

Anonymous said...

I think the journalist did an excellent job of conveying this very newsworthy subject to a public that deserves to know the opinion of one it's protectors. As controversial as it maybe, I believe the journalists should have used the officers name. I doubt it was her intention to target the officer but he foolishly made racist comments in front of a journalist, who has an obligation to the truth.
-Antonio Boone

Katie Killian said...

I think that if I was handling this story, I would not use exact quotes due to how offensive they were. I would have instead summarized them, saying something like "the officer spoke crudely about..." I don't think I would have published the officer's name, but I would have definitely reported him to his superior.

Nicole Homaijani said...

I think that this is a great story! If I were in the same position I would have most defiantly included the officers name and the district from which it came from. This is the truth and that is what is promised to the public from a journalist. It also makes the story more credible and out in the open so that it can be dealt with properly. Also, the officer said it in front of a journalist he is responsible for his words and actions. He is obviously racist and should take responsibility for his actions and words he also should pick another career. His job is protect the EVERYONE, of every race.

naila butt said...

i would have published that story with the officer name baccaue they are the people who suppose to prottect us and if they dont care what we do then how can we expect that they will be there when we will need them. i know that there some neighborhoods are really dengerous because killing, drug dealing are very common but atleast they can try to clean those areas i know that is very hard but that is not impoosible. if i were in the same position then i would have included the truth because a jouranlist that is our responsibility to tell the truth to our public

Mike Revak said...

This is disturbing, but above all else, it's real and I do believe that it should have been published. The story itself gives a good deal of insight into the mindset and perspective that those who "protect and serve" us. Sometimes, not every cop you meet is a good one. Every once in a while, you run into someone who just has no respect for those of another race or ethnicity and when you can capture that, then you're capturing the realism of the situation.

Anonymous said...

The officer has been fired.
Paul Klein

Lina Miller said...

It just amazes me how little screening they do when hiring police officers. It should have been obvious at some point that this young man is racist. If he is racist, it causes racial profiling. It may even cause him to harm or allow harm occur to a person who he is racist against. This is definitely a story that needs to be published. Are journalists there to help us see what's really going on? Not only is the officer racist he is also pretty stupid apparently, or he wouldn't have expressed himself in such an offensive, detrimental way.

Erin said...

I think, absolutely, she should have included the officer's racist quotes in her article. If the goal of her article was to explore the relationship between the police and the people they protect, this officer's comments are essential to the content of her article. Also, I think that these comments are not an isolated incident, but expose the disdain that a lot of police officers in philly have for the neighborhoods they protect. -kathryn taylor

Anonymous said...

I think it was both a good and a bad thing that she posted the officers name. With posting his name it makes him a stand alone police officer that is speaking his own views, which is good in the aspect that he views aren't the views of the entire police force. The bad part is that he as a police officer may suffer negative ramifications, which I don't consider to be unjust since his comments are pretty racist, that my reflect on the police force as a whole. Not every police officer will share those views.

If I were her I definitely would have followed around another cop in that same situation to see their view on things. This cop obviously has some racist tendencies and I'm sure not every cop is like that. I would have tried to follow around a few cops. As an aspiring journalist, I feel like it's our job to get the good and the bad to every story when possible.

K. Fratarcangeli (J1111 student)

Timi Jones said...

I would not have handled it any different Temple Student did. I would have exposed the officer by name.

The police is this city sometimes fail to realize that they have a responsibility to this city. But instead many of them abuse their power, racially profile, and just don't take their job very seriously at all.

I don't doubt there are good police officers on the force. And by exposing someone, like the officer in this article, I think it will weed out another bad one.