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Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, this letter was in response to an article about why the paper delayed writing about an incident in a local school that got the attention of the NAACP and Pittsburgh TV (which, he said, did little to answer any questions).

A teacher brought a KKK robe to school to show to the kids and talk about an ugly part of our history. His mistake, school officials admitted, was having a student model the robe. Another student took a photo with an iPhone, and word got out pretty quickly, thanks to the Internet.

I was writing in response to comments the article made about print news media vs. the Internet.

My letter:

In reading the article on the Klan robe incident at ****** school, [the author] wrote about the slower, more thorough approach [the paper] takes to researching stories rather than printing something unsubstantiated. This is admirable.

However, in this article, as well as others I have read in the past, [the author] laments the decline of the printed newspaper, aka the “real news business,” as it is usurped by the Internet.

I can understand his loyalty to the medium that employs him, but he paints the Internet with a rather broad brush. As a blogger (not a journalist) myself, I try to be responsible, but I know there are people with more tech savvy than brains using the Internet to express their opinions, which others take as fact. However, I have seen real journalism, also. The Internet can be a wonderful tool when used responsibly. It can spread important news quickly. It can be used to organize people or to sign petitions on matters important to them.

In the case of the Klan robe photo, was the problem really the Internet, or was it the NAACP, which has a reputation for jumping to conclusions (as witnessed by its role in Shirley Sherrod’s firing from the Department of Agriculture this summer), and the Pittsburgh TV station(s) more interested in the sensationalism of the story to boost ratings in a competitive market?

Journalism exists in all mediums. Sensational, biased reporting does, too. There is no such thing as a single, reliable news source anymore. Walter Cronkite is gone, as is his style of fairness. Any American who thinks he can just turn on his favorite TV station and learn the truth about what is going on in this world is either incredibly naïve or lazy.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 12th, 2010 11:11 pm (UTC)
I don't even think having a student model the robe was a problem. People should seek context before freaking out.
Oct. 13th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
The student basically just stood next to the teacher in class while the teacher talked about the robe. It's not like he paraded through the school or anything.

The original article was also about not jumping to conclusions, so they made your point.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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