hazel-eyed man opines28 Jul 2008
For the purposes of sparing my twitter followers that don’t care, relocating discussion here. So far:
cwage: ok this story is awesome: http://www.wsmv.com/news/17008504/detail.html
cwage: why was it important to the story that he was homeless, though.. sounds to me like his defining characteristics were “drunk” + “crazy”
pwnicholson: @cwage I agree the story probably emphasized his homelessness, but it is normal practice to say “John Smith of Antioch” so it fits to me.
cwage: @pwnicholson “John Smith of Antioch” is an identity. “homeless man” is not
pwnicholson: @cwage Their local headline section: #1 is “Clarksville man” #3 is “Homeless man”. Not saying there isn’t bias, just not sure this is it
I left a comment on the story as well. This is not a new argument – institutional bias in media coverage does exist. Witness the age-old argument of how often you see “A black youth” versus “A white youth”, etc. In a news story, ideally you’d identify characteristics that are either relevant to the story or serve as a general cue for the subject’s identity or tie in why it’s even being reported. “John Smith of Antioch” == an identity. “Clarksville man” == “oh, he was from Clarksville, which is near here. that’s why WSMV is reporting it”. “homeless man” is not an identity, nor was it relevant to the fact that he got drunk and stole a trolley. “Drunk man”, yes. “Crazy dude”, yes.
Anyways, wanted to spare the twitterers the discussion. Feel free to continue arguing below! Or not.