"One July week in 1900 an obscure black laborer named Robert Charles drew national headlines when he shot twenty-seven whites—including seven policemen—in a series of encounters with the New Orleans police," begins a summary of Carnival of Fury: Robert Charles and the New Orleans Race Riot of 1900 by William Ivy Hair, published in 2008.
"An avid supporter of black emigration, Charles believed it foolish to rely on southern whites to uphold the law or to acknowledge even minimal human rights for blacks. He therefore systematically armed himself, manufacturing round after round of his own ammunition before undertaking his intentionally symbolic act of violent resistance.
"After the shootings, Charles became an instant hero among some blacks, but to most people he remained a mysterious and sinister figure who had promoted a 'back-to-Africa' movement. Few knew anything about his early life. . . ."
Gerald Horne, who holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, raised Charles' case Monday on Pacifica Radio in a discussion about Micah Johnson, the slain shooter who killed five Dallas police officers and wounded nine others and two civilians last week.
Johnson had "severe mental issues," Horne said, but "over the decades and over the centuries there have been a number of Micah Johnsons, that is to say individuals fed up with the daily and deadly toll of bloodshed on black people and decide to take justice in their own hands from their point of view," (audio) Horne told host Mitch Jeserich of KPFA-FM in Berkeley, Calif.
Rather than focus on one man, we should look at "the wider historical forces" that brought Johnson to Dallas, Horne said.
It was one attempt to explain the actions of a man described by many in the news media as full of hate, demented and/or a madman.
"Micah Johnson’s journal opened a portal into a madman’s mind," Jennifer Emily wrote Sunday and Monday for the Dallas Morning News. ". . . His words aren't an intricate manifesto. They were fleeting thoughts that bounced around inside a brain that never really grew up. . . ."
Metro columnist Jacquielynn Floyd, writing in the Morning News, put Johnson in another context. "Johnson's real inspiration came from people like Omar Mateen, Dylann Roof, Nidal Hasan. They, and others like them, are monsters — the media politely calls them 'troubled' and 'loners' — who wallow in grievance as an excuse for slaughtering innocent strangers," she wrote Sunday.
"Anyone who believes Johnson suddenly went around the bend with uncontrollable anger toward law enforcement as a result of last week's police shootings has not paid close attention to the facts. . . ."
The New York Times tried to get at those facts on Saturday and quoted President Obama's reluctance to psychoanalyze Johnson.
Richard Fausset, Manny Fernandez and Alan Blinder wrote, "Mr. Johnson showed an affinity for radical black-power organizations on his Facebook page. Organizers of the Black Lives Matter network and others have denounced Mr. Johnson’s shooting spree. In a news conference on Saturday in Warsaw, President Obama said it was 'very hard to untangle the motives' behind the shooting.
“ 'As we’ve seen in a whole range of incidents with mass shooters, they are, by definition, troubled,' Mr. Obama said. 'By definition, if you shoot people who pose no threat to you — strangers — you have a troubled mind. What triggers that, what feeds it, what sets it off, I’ll leave that to psychologists and people who study these kinds of incidents.' . . . ”
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said on "Democracy Now!" Monday, however, that he believed race to be part of Johnson's story — and motivation.
"You never know when a horrific event like this is going to happen," Ellison said. "It’s very hard to predict. But, I can tell you this, I think that we ensure the safety of our officers when officers who do not comply with the constitutional laws of our country, all over the country, are brought to account. Because that gives the public the general idea that there is equality before the law.
"Now, maybe this could not have been stopped. Maybe this sick, demented, homicidal person could not have been prevented. But, I hope that, if we have greater accountability, if the public believes that if a citizen violates the law, they will be held accountable, if an officer violates the law, they will be held accountable. Then people who did move toward the lunatic extremes will be suppressed and will be dissuaded from going, going, going in the direction that this guy obviously went in. . . ."
Kevin B. Blackistone, writing Sunday in the print edition of the Washington Post, agreed with Horne. He referred to Charles, the 1900 shooter.
"Charles and Johnson, though separated by six generations, are one and the same. Just as black slave insurrectionists like Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey were 18th- and 19th-century white America’s biggest nightmare, Charles and Johnson are that to 20th- and 21st-century white America — black men who violently sowed their disillusionment.
"There were upward of 4 million Africans and their descendants enslaved in this country in the run-up to the Civil War. A century and a half later, half of black men are arrested by age 23, a study said, and they are locked behind bars at a disproportionate rate to whites, which damages their ability to continue schooling and be full participants in our society.
"In 2013, there were more than 1.2 million black men locked in chronic, or long-term, unemployment, according to a 2013 federal report, which noted that black men suffered unemployment at a greater rate than any other demographic group.
"It was at this crowded intersection of race, societal order and emasculation that Johnson, like Charles, picked up his gun. Both men were exorcising pent-up frustration with historical and systemic injustice with horrific consequence for those nearby. . . ."
Most in the mainstream news media are soft-pedaling the relationship of racism to Johnson's actions. They are correct to note that others have not allowed it to take them to such extremes.
"The twisted and raging anger of Micah Johnson, the black man who pulled the trigger, is unrecognizable to many in the black community," Darryl Fears wrote Friday in the Washington Post. "African Americans cowered like everyone else during the onslaught, and reacted with fear, dread and praise for the Dallas police once it was over." Still, his story was headlined, "Racism twists and distorts everything."
"Kansas City NBC affiliate KSHB attempted to 'contextualize black shooting deaths at the hands of police officers' by publishing a video from its media partner Newsy called 'These Are The Black People Police Have Shot and Killed This Year,' " Kevin Eck reported Monday for TVSpy.
"The video features a list of names of black people shot by police officers scrolling over footage including protestor chants, police radio calls and eyewitness accounts. Newsy also posted the names of those killed below the video. . . .
"It didn’t go over well and the station says it’s not to blame. . . ."
Eck also wrote, "Editor’s note: Newsy previously published a video titled 'These Are The Black People Police Have Shot And Killed This Year,' Newsy said on its website and KSHB posted to its Facebook page. 'In it, we attempted to contextualize black shooting deaths at the hands of police. Several of you reached out to us to say the video wasn’t successful in providing that context. Upon reviewing it, we agreed.'
“ 'The national conversation about policing and race is important, difficult and nuanced. Newsy fell short in this particular contribution to that dialogue,' said the statement. 'Every day, we strive to put the news in perspective with historical and statistical analysis so you can reach your own informed conclusions. And every day, we produce stories we’re proud to say do deliver on that mission. We’ve replaced the original video here with one such story. . . .”
"For generations, people of color have been the victims of unfair, biased and criminalizing coverage in the news media," according to Race Forward, which publishes the daily news site Colorlines and presents Facing Race, "the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice."
"From the consistent use of imagery and language based in historical stereotypes, to copy-editing standards and photo choices that misrepresent diverse communities, the media has at times gone against one of journalism’s core values which is to 'minimize harm to the communities and people they cover,' " the group said Friday.
"Basic journalism education provides writers, producers and editors with the tools to ethically answer the 'who, what, where, when, why and how' of any issue or event.
"However, accurately and thoughtfully reporting on issues of race and culture requires that journalists go beyond those basic skills. Reporters should make intentional efforts to craft stories that uplift the voices of the most impacted without criminalizing them or adding to existing narratives. This is always important, but must become a priority in times of crisis and unrest.
"Communities of color are in pain after the tragic shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The death of the officers in Dallas has added to the anguish and unrest breaking out across this nation. When writing and editing content pertaining to these and other tragedies involving people or communities of color, reporters, editors and producers need to consider the following:
"Sourcing Information and Pictures . . .
"Word choice and Copy Editing . . .
"Understanding the cultural landscape and knowing the risk . . .
Separately, Adam Johnson wrote Monday for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting published a report headlined, "Copspeak: 7 Ways Journalists Use Police Jargon to Obscure the Truth."
"The close relationship between reporters and police is often marked by diffusion of language from the police PR team to the front page," it began. "In the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, here are some examples of how 'copspeak' — or jargon used by police departments — is internalized by journalists covering police violence, and how it affects the public’s perception of crime and police brutality."
The first example was "officer-involved shooting."
"Probably the most popular and most frequently criticized, 'officer-involved shooting' is a textbook example of what Robert Jay Lifton called a 'thought-terminating cliche.' It describes an act of violence without assigning blame and is almost never used for when a police officer is the victim, only when the police have shot someone — justified or not. . . ."
"A photo of an unnamed protester at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has become a powerful image of the ongoing struggle between law enforcement and black Americans," Nick Visser reported Sunday for the Huffington Post.
"More than 100 people were arrested during a protest outside the city’s police headquarters on Saturday following the death of Alton Sterling, who was shot and killed by police outside a convenience store last week. At least three journalists were arrested, as was prominent activist DeRay Mckesson.
"The woman in the image above, which was taken by Reuters photographer Jonathan Bachman, was among those arrested for refusing to leave an area highway. The moment and the photo evoke Tiananmen Square’s infamous and unknown 'Tank Man.' . . ."
Visser also wrote, "Citing friends and family on social media, multiple outlets have identified her as Ieshia Evans, a 28-year-old mom and nurse from Brooklyn.
"She was released from police custody late Sunday evening, according to New York Daily News reporter Shaun King. . . ."
Colleen Jenkins, Reuters: Nurse in photo describes her arrest in Baton Rouge as 'work of God'
"Cops are containing reporters and threatening to arrest all journalists without credentials as protests continue against the police killing of Alton Sterling last week," Zack Kopplin reported from Baton Rouge, La., Sunday for the Daily Beast (later updated).
"The Daily Beast and several other media outlets were forced into a 10-foot wide zone by police during a protest at France and East streets by hundreds of people on Sunday. Police then ordered all reporters without credentials out of the zone and threatened to arrest any who put a foot in the street. . . ."
Kopplin also wrote, "On Saturday, at least three journalists were arrested, including a radio reporter with WWNO and a credentialed news director with WAFB. Both were booked on one count of obstructing a highway, which was the same charge leveled against DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist. All have since been released from jail. . . ."
"Police handcuffed and detained more than 70 people during Friday's Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Rochester, including two WHAM-TV journalists — who also happened to be black," Olivia Lopez and Georgie Silvarole reported Saturday for the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y.
"Carlet Cleare and Justin Carter, both Channel 13 reporters, were covering the demonstration Friday evening from the corner of East Avenue and Alexander Street with two photographers and another reporter, Jennifer Lee. More than 400 people were present for the protest, which served as a response to national violence and tension between law enforcement and the public.
"According to a statement released by WHAM-TV, Cleare and Carter — along with many other reporters — were in the street recording a woman who was voicing her opinions. Police approached and arrested the woman. Following the arrest, the group of reporters had moved to the sidewalk and continued reporting live via Facebook.
"At that point, Cleare and Carter were handcuffed by police and led away without warning. . . .
"Early Saturday morning, Mayor Lovely Warren and Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli held a news conference, publicly apologizing to the reporters for the incident. . . ."
Associated Press: Philando Castile was stopped 52 times by police
Lois Beckett, the Guardian: Philando Castile's killing puts NRA's gun rights mission at a crossroads
Mary C. Curtis, garnetnews.com: A Call For A Collective Mourning
Editorial, Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.: America is at war with itself. How did we get here?
Elon James White with Brian Stelter, CNN "Reliable Sources": White: Media uses black death for ratings (video)
Kristen Hare, Poynter Institute: How The Dallas Morning News went from covering a protest to reporting on a deadly shooting
Kristen Hare, Poynter Institute: The Dallas Morning News runs front-page editorial: ‘Where to begin?’
Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press: Police shootings of black men: Haven't we seen enough?
Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press: Killings and history challenge us to value all lives equally
Wesley Lowery, Washington Post: Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no.
Donna Owens, NBCBLK: Blacks in Blue: African-American Cops React to Violence Towards and From Police
William Saletan, Slate: There Is a War Over Race in America
Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Cops are human, and when they hurt, we all do
Eleanor Semeraro for Fabric Media, Broadcasting & Cable: Viewers Love MTV/BET ‘What Now?’ Town Hall on Race
Adrian Walker, Boston Globe: Violence across the country touches many in Boston
Robin Washington, the Marshall Project: Is Philando Castile the Ultimate Casualty of Driving While Black?
Timothy Williams, New York Times: Study Supports Suspicion That Police Are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks
Kai Wright, the Nation: Why Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Are Dead
Julian E. Zelizer, the Atlantic: Is America Repeating the Mistakes of 1968?
"The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds the minority workforce in TV news rose to 23.1%," Bob Papper reported Monday for the Radio Television Digital News Association.
"That’s up almost a full point from a year ago … and is the second highest level ever in TV news. The minority workforce at non-Hispanic TV stations also went up to the second highest level ever.
"The minority workforce in radio slipped again from the year before.
"In TV, women news directors and women in the workforce both rose to the highest levels ever. Second year in a row. The picture for women in radio news was more mixed.
"Still, as far as minorities are concerned, the bigger picture remains unchanged. In the last 26 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 11.8 points; but the minority workforce in TV news is up less than half that (5.3). And the minority workforce in radio is actually down by nearly a point and a half.
Papper, professor emeritus at Hofstra, said in his annual report for the association, also said, "The percentage of minority TV news directors hit an all-time high this year, at 17.1%. That shatters the old record of 15.5% set in 2008.
"African American news directors, at 5.5% hit their highest level ever (the old record was 4.3% in 2014). Hispanic/Latino, at 8.8%, was not far behind its all-time high of 9.3% in 2008. Asian American, at 2.6%, tied its all-time high set in 2010. At 0.3%, Native American was the only group actually down from a year ago.
"The percentage of minority news directors at non-Hispanic stations also set a new record – at 13.9%. The old record was 10.7% set back in 2012. African American and Hispanic were both at 5.4% at non-Hispanic stations. That’s a record high for both groups. Asian American, at 2.7%, also hit a record high. Native American fell a hair to 0.3%.
"Overall, Hispanic news directors were most often found in top 25 markets, newsrooms of under 31 employees and other commercial and non-commercial stations. African American news directors were most often found in markets 26 to 100, ABC and NBC affiliates, non-commercial stations and in the South. Minority news directors, generally, were least likely to be in the smallest markets (151+), at the very biggest newsrooms (51+ staffers), at NBC and Fox affiliates and stations in the Midwest. . . ."
"Melissa Harris-Perry is taking her next step post-MSNBC," Denise Petski reported Monday for Deadline Hollywood. "The former weekend show host has signed on to BET News as a special correspondent. She will host and contribute to various BET News programs and develop longform news specials for the network.
"Her first assignment will be to co-anchor election coverage for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions along with . . .BET News correspondent Marc Lamont Hill.
"The cable net will air an hourlong recap special on the GOP confab at 11 AM Sunday, July 24. It will include the convention’s most talked-about highlights along with exclusive interviews with newsmakers and celebrities. . . ."
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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