The Huffington Post has picked up a Maynard Institute report that a Chicago news station is under fire for purposely taking the words of a 4-year-old boy out of context to portray him as a future criminal. In a story about violence in Chicago, the reporter asked the boy a series of questions, including what he was going to do when he got older, to which the boy responded, "I'm going to have me a gun." When asked why, he said, "I'm going to be the police."
WBBM edited the interview and left off the boy's response about being a police officer, making him look like a violent 4-year-old instead of an astute 4-year-old who knows that more police are needed in order to combat the level of violence taking place in his community.
WBBM's actions led to an apology from the news station with a vow to learn from their mistakes. An apology? We won't even speak about trotting out Shawnelle Richie, their black communications director, to address the issue, when it should have been addressed by the general manager. We won't even mention the fact that no one was fired for this breach of journalistic ethics with clear malicious intent. They could have easily chosen to include footage of the boy saying that he wanted to be the police instead of having a gun. The producers and editors consciously made the decision to demonize this young boy.
We will mention that the normalcy of demonizing young black boys in media must end. To go to those lengths to make a 4-year-old appear to be a perpetrator when he is the victim of a society that thinks it's cool for poor populations to live with rampant violence is unconscionable and unacceptable. Keep your apology.
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