Sunday, November 04, 2007

Not always what they seem (Part Deux)

"All quiet here."

That's what the police watch commander told me yesterday evening when, at the request of my editor, I called to see if anything "happened" at the day-long educational hip hop summit. I wrote about the events during the day, but missed an evening concert because they weren't about to pay me overtime to cover it.

When my editor first told me about the assignment over the phone, I sighed (in my head). Sure, send the black intern to cover the hip hop event. (I always get that feeling...never mind.) Being that it was held on the peninsula, I knew there would be more Filipinos than anybody else. Turns out that Filipinos were running it.

I often find it interesting to see who is "represented" at hip hop summits. I counted four or five African Americans out of nearly 60 community college kids. Even more interesting...we've yet to see such a rainbow of ethnicity coonin' and bafoonin' (or "boogalooing," rather) on the boob tube. (*scratches head) I've digressed.

What troubled me most was the assumption, made by my editors (and the police), that this collection of youngsters would cause some major fiasco worth reporting. On the phone, an editor asked me to come in later than usual so that I could stay in the newsroom late enough to check into the "danger" that, to everyone else, seemed "inevitable." (And they wonder why young people don't listen. If you've already written them off, why should they?)

Forget that the story I sat down to write was about women and their contribution and image in hip hop. Forget that the workshops were presented in an academic setting and fashion. Forget that the youngsters there were tamer than even I expected them to be.

Instead, let's attempt to write a story about how the police paid overtime for extra units to be ready to march in with riot gear when (and not if) the hip hop concert goes awry.

What kind of journalism is this?

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Posted by Aaron Morrison at 10:28 AM | link

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I feel you Aaron. My editor called me at 10 p.m. Sautrday to ask me if I could cover an AIDS in the black community seminar tomorrow. I said yes, thinking "oh it was last minute and he knew I'd be off."

NOPE!!! He then proceeds to explain to me how the pastor called to ask if someone would cover it. He said sure, but once he began to explain what would go on at the seminar, I was the first person to come to mind.
*sigh* The price of being the spot in the newsroom.

Posted by Blogger Vdizzle @ 9:41 PM, November 04, 2007 #

Yes, tis the coverage of hip hop. My paper in Miami Beach covers crime on hip hop weekend, not the reason why people converge on South Florida. People can't be tourists or concert goers. It's the crime that gets the story in the paper. I wonder with newsroom cut backs, will real stories about real people living real lives make it to print?

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 8:50 AM, November 06, 2007 #

I'm sorry y'all, but, seriously, your editor's assumption was, I feel, a perfectly safe one. I'm only 25, I'm black, I'm a journalist and I went to Howard. I love my people...but I also know my people....and even if my people weren't the ones out there at the forum, the Hip Hop culture (unfortunately) is one centered on violence. I think you were being too sensitive.

Posted by Anonymous Nikki Nicole @ 10:01 PM, November 30, 2007 #
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