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Monday, August 21, 2006

Opinion Masquerading as News

I came upon this story yesterday at Yahoo News from the AP. Here is the first paragraph:
"American students often get the impression from history classes that the British got here first, settling Jamestown, Va., in 1607. They hear about how white Northerners freed the black slaves, how Asians came in the mid-1800s to build Western railroads. The lessons have left out a lot."
Talk about a red herring. I was in high school over 15 years ago and this wasn't what I was taught. I have a hard time believing that history lessons have become more Euro-centric since then. So what gives here?

I believe that the answer is a journalist with an ax to grind. Or better yet, one who makes a living off stirring up racial animosity. I realized that I had seen the name of the author of this piece before, Erin Texeira.

After some research, I discovered that Erin is part of the narrative journalism movement. While most who write narrative jouralism strive to use stories to illustrate points, Texeira appears to have mastered the art of finding anecdotal evidence to try to promote her agenda.

Now this is all fine and good if Erin wrote as an opinion pundit. But she doesn't. She writes AP articles that generally appear to be hard news and usually are presented as such. Unfortunately, Erin doesn't use any actual evidence to back up her sweeping claims of rampant discrimination and a culture still dominated by "THE MAN".

Here is a quick sampling of some of Erin's article titles:
  • Asian Youths Suffer Harassment in Schools
  • Slavery Reparations Gaining Momentum
  • Black Men Fight Negative Stereotypes Everyday
  • Growing Anger Among Blacks as Latinos "Take Over"
  • Asians Underrepresented
Of course all of these articles are based upon nothing more than a story or two.

I don't mean to purport than discrimination and bigotry have been eliminated from American culture. But one or two stories do not equal a truism. If Texeira wishes to write her opinion, she should start a blog. And stop pretending to write "news".