As News From Ferguson Continues To Come, A Couple Reminders On Language

1. The word  ”teenager” is not banned but is to be avoided. Michael Brown was 18 and that’s the age when you’re considered an adult. “Teenager” means a younger person in many people’s minds.

Newscast skillfully dealt with the issue this way earlier this evening:

“THE GRAND JURY HAS REACHED A DECISION ON WHETHER TO INDICT A WHITE POLICE OFFICER WHO SHOT AND KILLED AN UNARMED BLACK 18 YEAR OLD IN A CASE THAT TOUCHED OFF VIOLENT PROTESTS IN FERGUSON-MISSOURI AND ELSEWHERE.”

2. On the black-and-white issue: Race is not an important matter in most crime stories.

But at the risk of being obvious, the races of the officer and Michael Brown are relevant because of the tensions they exposed and the protests that followed the killing. That context is important. Shereen Marisol Meraji wove that into her report on ATC as she told the story of one mother who is proud of her daughter for protesting. The woman feels “joy” because “her neighbors and her daughter are still out protesting and asking for changes to the way law enforcement treats young black people.” She feels “sadness because an 18 year old had to lose his life to spark that.”

Carrie Johnson folded in this context for Newscast: “Protesters say they’ll keep talking about issues of police bias and militarization no matter what the jurors decide.”

Newscast handled the issue this way:

“PROTESTERS HAVE GATHERED OUTSIDE THE POLICE STATION IN FERGUSON, MISSOURI IN ADVANCE OF AN ANNOUNCEMENT LATER THIS EVENING OF THE GRAND JURY’S DECISION ON WHETHER TO INDICT A POLICE OFFICER IN THE SHOOTING DEATH OF 18 YEAR OLD MICHAEL BROWN. THE UNARMED AFRICAN AMERICAN WAS KILLED FOLLOWING A CONFRONTATION WITH THE  WHITE OFFICER.”

(Memmos; Nov. 24, 2014)

November 24, 2014

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