By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, [journalism] keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community. - Oscar Wilde
by Steve Chapman (Email him)
Here's my question about the
teenagers who have been attacking and robbing people on North Michigan
Avenue in recent days: Were they Christians? And if so, what
denomination? Baptist? Catholic? Seventh Day Adventist?
may sound like ridiculous questions. But so is the question raised by
many Tribune readers about our coverage: Why aren't we mentioning that
the culprits are black?
are good reasons not to identify the attackers by race. It's the
newspaper's sound general policy not to mention race in a story, whether
about crime or anything else, unless it has some clear relevance to the
If a reporter goes out and interviews people about the weather, would it make sense for the story to say, "Joe Smith, who is black, is hoping for a cool front"? If a pedestrian gets run over by a bicyclist, should the story mention that the rider was white?
In the attack coverage, what difference does race make, unless police are putting out descriptions or sketches in hopes of getting tips from witnesses? Getting beat up for your iPad, I suspect, feels about the same regardless of the color of the thieves. Police don't seem to think victims were targeted because of their race.
And what good would it do to trumpet the skin color of the thugs? So pedestrians on Michigan Avenue can run away when they see two or more African-Americans? Lots of black adolescents and young adults can be found on the Magnificent Mile on any given day. I'd guess at least 95 percent of them are harmless.
My question to readers accusing us of political correctness is: Why do you care so much about the attackers' race? If you fear or dislike blacks, I suppose it would confirm your prejudice. But otherwise, it tells you nothing useful.