Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Should Journalists Force The Issue?

Philadelphia magazine's new issue cover story is about the difficulties of being white in Philadelphia. It is full of bigotry and ignorance and it is overall a really poor attempt at journalism (even Philly mag staffers can't defend the piece).

Let's move beyond that. Let's focus on the bigger question here: should journalists present major topics for discussion, and if so, how?

The reality is that the story thrusts race and racism into the spotlight. Is that a good or bad thing?

Are they ultimately doing a good thing by forcing the discussion, or is this a dangerous and divisive act that could have greater ramifications (beyond people dropping their Philly mag subscriptions)?

There is not one incident that is the catalyst to tell their story. Rather, they say that race and racism is an underlying issue that exists in Philadelphia as it has for half a century.

What positives can come out of this, if any?

9 comments:

Ciara Murphy said...

I think it is defiantly important to acknowledge issues that people shy away from and are not keen to talk about. It is a journalists job to bring these issues to the attention of the public. However, when discussing these issues they must be approached by both sides. Journalism should never be one sided. A more appropriate way to approach this issue would have been addressing overall race in the city, not just concentrating on one race.

Afnan said...

Firstly, I just have to say that the article is disgusting, and the comments on it are even worse. So PoC can't talk about the racism they experience day in and day out, but it's okay for a white person to do the same? So either there's no racism, and PoC need to get over it, unless of course it's against whites. He also blatantly admits his own racism, when he says "you do your best to erase them from your thoughts" about mostly black neighborhoods.
He completely misses the point when he mentions how African Americans are more likely to be unemployed or commit a crime. It's some kind of circle of poverty argument, which was already ruled out to be a myth.
Yes, this puts racism in the spotlight, but not in the way it should be. Hopefully it shows how much racism is still prevalent against blacks and perpetuated by jackasses like this. If journalism is supposed to get multiple sides to stories, it failed miserably, he made a point of only talking to whites. This story would be drastically different if he had even attempted to talk to some PoC. I agree with the mag's staffer when he says "I don’t get why you’d devote 6,000 words... to explaining why it’s difficult to have a conversation when you could just go and have the conversation."
The only positive I can think of it this story will force us as a community to examine racism and white privilege as it persists today, because clearly, it is a much needed discussion.

Ramen-sicle said...

I took this class last year and still read this blog. I'm glad I do, or I probably wouldn't have read this article.

Huber addresses a point that is relevant yet delicate, but he executes poorly. He dwells on skin color and makes assumptions of people's race when it's never actually proven. While race relations is something Philadelphian's need to be more comfortable with addressing, Huber is inarticulate and at times insensitive to issues inner city minorities face. He also provides little, if any solution to the issue he is supposedly addressing.

Carly Van Houten said...

I was so suprised and shocked that this story was even published with a title like that. Yes it will deffinitly be a eye catcher for the audience but as it already has start an uproar between different parties such as african americans and whites. I believe the topic would be more appropriate if it was brought from a different angle such as from both sides not just the view point of being white in philly. If the article would of came from a black person stand point to how judgemental views are and what they too have to deal with while being a black in the city as well as being white would of been a better form of a story. Its not fair nor professional to focus on one group (white people in philly) and the title is rediculous in every matter.

Erin Martin said...

When writing my Media Comparison paper, I came across an article in the PW called “Being HOT in Philly” which served as a parody to this very offensive Philly Mag. Article. While it was very amusing, I think it was more effective at bringing the issue of otherness to everyone’s attention. Honestly, skin color doesn’t make a difference to me…I’m white in Philly…and I’m not constantly terrified of people with a different skin color than me. It’s really childish to think that way, and oh yeah RACIST. There’s no way the person who wrote the Philly Mag article is not racist because after reading it, I could tell they were separating white from black; and saying white is better than black. It’s ridiculous and completely violates the ethics of journalism.

Joh Lolley said...

As gatekeepers of information, journalists should report objectively the news without stereotyping or prejudice. If the author Rober Huber would have interviewed other races and gotten their input this article would not have blown out of proportion.

Anonymous said...

Leslie Smith said...

I think the issue should be bought up. Light should be shone on issues that people want to talk about but are afraid to.

Because race and racism is such a sensitive topic for a lot of people, it needs to be dealt with carefully and respectfully.

Journalist should be objective and cover both sides of a story...I honestly don't see how this piece was actually published, especially with that title.

Erica Adeleye said...

Indeed, as a journalist it is our job to write about curent issues, even if they are on topics that are a little "touchy". Race is still an issue whether we acknowledge t or not. On one hand it is justified for this article to be written. On the other hand, this article can raise eyebrows, and cause readers to shy away from their subscriptions. Race is always a touchy topic, but if it is the most current, or biggest issue in Philadelphia right now, as a journalist, that is what the story will entail.

Lora Strum said...

I think that though Philly Mag's work was not tasteful or skilled journalism, the idea of getting race and race relations in the forefront is incredibly important for journalists. The idea of media as a public forum for discussion and criticism cannot die because the topic is touchy. It's our job as journalists to represent the problems in society--albeit better than Philly Mag--but still to ask the hard questions