Monday, March 24, 2008

N&O editor: “my color” disturbs readers

The other day at the Raleigh News & Observer’s Editors’ Blog, Senior Editor Linda Williams responded to readers critical of her and the N&O for, among other reasons, the N&O’s grossly biased, racially inflammatory and often false reporting of the Duke lacrosse frame-up attempt.

Here’s part of what Williams, the lead editor on the most notorious of the N&O’s Duke lacrosse framing stories, its Mar. 25, 2006 story it told readers was about a woman’s “ordeal” which ended finally in “sexual violence,” said to readers [on thread here on 3/14 @ 18:56]:

… Many people commenting here seem to be merely taking an opportunity to express their own considerable racial anxieties. It's obvious that some find the color of my skin disturbing and have concluded that my color is all the information they need to determine what I think and my motivations. It seems more important to them to address my color than my words. …
Williams ended her post with this:
Those of you who just want to continue the racial rant, have at it.
I’ve just left the following response further down the thread.

Dear Editor Williams:

Like most N&O readers I know and judging from their comments at the Editors’ Blog and other blogs, I don’t care about your skin color.

But, like so many other readers, I do care that in its Mar. 24, 2006 story - the first news story to report all 46 white members of the Duke Men’s lacrosse team were suspects in an investigation of a woman’s charges of gang rape and other crimes - the N&O seven times referred to the woman as “the victim” or with the possessive “victim’s,” never once using a qualifier such as “alleged.”

Why did the N&O decide to dispense with its practice in such cases of using a qualifier and instead repeatedly tell readers the woman was “a victim?”

You must have had a very strong reason for doing that.

And by reason I don’t mean something like: “We did that, John, because we wanted the public to believe the woman was the victim and that the players were her victimizers.”

Everyone knows that, Editor Williams.

What we want to know is why did the N&O decide to do that?

We know there wasn’t just one person who worked on that story. Two reporters – Anne Blythe and Samiha Khanna – were bylined on the story and a number of editors worked on it.

It was a front-page story. Former executive editor for news Melanie Sill explained in other EB posts that those stories are carefully reviewed and discussed by a group of senior editors as well as a special front-page editor.

Why did a group of journalists at the N&O decide to frame the Duke students as criminal victimizers and tell readers Crystal Mangum was the victim?

And were any of them ever reprimanded or discharged?

Why hasn’t the N&O attached a correction to the story you published two years ago today?

Finally this, Editor Williams: There are many N&O readers of every race who wish you’d stop using your skin color as an excuse for not answering fair, important and fact-based questions.

Sincerely,

John in Carolina

10 comments:

mac said...

Editor Williams:

Your skin color doesn't bother me at all, but Mike Nifong's attempts to use Crystal Gayle Mangum's skin color to get elected does.

It does bother me that you would be so shallow, though; do you know the meaning of the word "petulant?"

Anonymous said...

Thanks John

I do not recall leaving any comments there. I often have trouble getting them to post and just give up.

Anyway, my first thought when I saw the opening post she started that blog with was to wonder why color was picked as the factor that allegedly created a difference in how the media had covered various deaths within the area.

After seeing her response, I then wondered why she was complaining about color being a topic of discussion, when she was the one that started the topic.

kbp

Anonymous said...

How 'bout a little cheese with that whine.

bill anderson said...

Good job, John. The people at the N&O are pretty typical of MSM "journalists," in that they are arrogant and believe they are accountable to no one.

I often ask Ted Vaden why Samiha Khanna and Anne Blythe are still employed at the N&O. No answer, of course.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. What do the McClatchy executives think of the performance by the N&O editors?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:06
Amazing. What do the McClatchy executives think of the performance by the N&O editors?

LOL!!

Could it be that they were specially selected to go down with the ship?

kbp

Anonymous said...

Now Ms. Williams is a mind reader. She can tell through the air waves what motivates me without knowing me and without talking with me. Amazing!

Anonymous said...

Sweetmick says:Ms. Williams has been playing the race card for a long time. Last year in the N&O Editor's Blog, I criticized Ms. Williams' response to those blog hooligans who demanded to know why exculpatory comments by Ms. Mangum's dancing partner were not printed in those March reports. Ms. Williams' gibberish filled excuse about libel/slander was either pure sophistry, ignorance or stupidity, or a combination thereof, and I and others told her so. She was catching hell , and her response to me was along the lines of her color brought out the racism in me. Of course,her response is intended to put an end to observations of her intellectual capacity, ability, motives and prejudices.
Hello, Ms. Williams, those days are long gone.

Anonymous said...

It's the same old, tired song; "It's because I'm black" is always the path of first resort. Until they finally understand that it's BEHAVIOR, not skin color, they will never move forward.

Anonymous said...

Could one describe Ms. Williams as a "typical Black woman?"
Tarheel Hawkeye