New kid on the block

Being an American in America is somewhat under heavy fire. For some people due to a flux of recent racial tension that has become one of the leading headlines besides “Russiagate”. The latest story that has been blasted across social media and television media is a story of a young man who almost became a hashtag.

Fourteen-year-old Brennan Walker woke up one morning not knowing that post events would forever change his life. As it happens with many children, he missed the bus for school and decided rather than play hooky, he would walk to school. Brennan a young black teen cut through a neighborhood hoping that he could get help from people in the area. Little did he know moments later he would be shot at and almost brutally murdered.

After knocking on a door in Rochester Hills, Michigan, he was confronted by an angry woman, her husband and a barrel of a shotgun.

Walker tells Fox 2 Detroit, “I got to the house, and I knocked on the lady’s door. Then she started yelling at me and she was like, ‘Why are you trying to break into my house?’ I was trying to explain to her that I was trying to get directions to Rochester High. And she kept yelling at me. Then the guy came downstairs, and he grabbed the gun, I saw it and started to run. And that’s when I heard the gunshot.”

For many people it was as simple as, “why doesn’t a teenager know his way to school” and for others many teens get on the bus and browse the web or talk amongst friends not really paying attention to the navigation of the bus driver.

It would seem this is a clear case of racial bias. Many people myself included, wonders if this would happen to say, a white American. I am an African American who just moved into a suburban neighborhood myself. As the “new kid on the block” I want to introduce myself to my neighbors and perhaps bring over a gift. Should I have to worry about whether I’ll be met with smiling faces or a barrel of a shotgun?

In this case we can say justice will hopefully be served. The shooter, Jeffrey Zeigler a retired fireman faces life in prison on the charges of assault with the intent to murder and a felony firearm charge. His bail was set at $50,000. I hope he will be an example to all registered gun owners and people with hidden racial biases that not ALL black people are monstrous despite Hollywood’s depiction and also that not ALL gun owners are reckless.

A curation example

On Bridgemi I was able to find an example of curation written by Chastity Pratt Dawsey and Mike Wilkinson. This particular article compared the various school stats in Michigan as opposed to other states. The two reporters highlighted an important fact; “Michigan is not getting the school it deserves.”

I feel that after reading Ron French’s story, which is also on Bridgemi, this was a poor example or perhaps a short article. Although the  article had well over 18 paragraphs and only three contextualized links. As the flow of the paragraphs increased to the end of the article the three links were the only sources that were used.

The article also had related links in the middle of certain paragraphs, that could cause some confusion as you are reading. That could be an added value for citizens in the school districts that want to see similar articles on the topic or as mentioned before cause a sense of confusion to the readers.

I do like the way the few links are attributed, it is the same as what we are currently learning and prior to clicking the link you know what you’re going to potentially be seeing. Thus, it is not click bait. Although this is blog post is not about the content of the writing, I think the authors had too much opinion in the writing. This is something that we should limit as much as possible so that our biases and personal beliefs do not run interference with the facts.

Biases in journalism

We all have biases! Even journalists they are human too.

What does a journalist do?

A journalist makes a difference in peoples’ lives. They uncover the truth and explain the complex issues in a way that anyone can understand. They help people make decisions about their lives, their values, their beliefs.

It is truthful and minimizes harm. It is free of conflicts of interest. It is accurate, clear, fair, thorough and transparent.

Journalists Should:

  • Be responsible for their work.
  • Provide context and take time to promote the story.
  • Gather the correct/updated information
  • Identify sources clearly
  • Support the open and civil exchange of views.
  • Provide access to source materials when it is appropriate.


Ethics for the win

Ethics in journalism is the foundation of good reporting. Balancing information on a pendulum against personal biases can be somewhat challenging.

Being an African American woman is a double-loaded burger in what experiences I bring to report that I know I should rein in on,  lest I provide a complete biased account.

After taking a structured class dedicated to research, writing and journalism I’ve become better equipped to fact check rather than take the wealth of information on the internet at face value. For example, using known fact check sites for reliable truths. This is an example of such a site!

Writing for all people whether blogging or journalism is not just ethically important to present both sides, but it is morally needed to avoid poisoning humanity from ill-gotten information.

The liberal bias

All people hold bias in their minds. Confirmation bias. Belief bias. The background of a person will affect how they report the news and there is no way around it.

For myself, part of what I have to deal with comes from my political beliefs. Being liberal means that I am more likely to want to report on things that confirm what I believe.

The same can be said for being atheist, being white, being a man, being raised upper middle class, and being American.

All of these can contribute to what I am willing to believe, what I want to report on, and, unfortunately, how I report it as well.

Being aware of the bias can help. Always making sure that I hear both sides of the story and listen to all arguments surrounding it can at least make my reporting fair. Removing myself from the story helps as well, so that only the facts are reported.

Lastly, being up front about my own beliefs and biases can help any potential readers determine for themselves whether or not what I say is trustworthy.