"Ex-Wife Recalls Colorado Gunman as Imperfect, but a Good Man."
Is that how you describe a mass murderer? The New York Times thinks so. That is how it led the description of the gunman who killed three people with a semiautomatic rifle at a Planned Parenthood this past weekend.
Compare this to the NY Times profile of Michael Brown, the black unarmed teenager who was shot and killed -- with his hands up in the air -- by a white police officer. The Times described Michael Brown as "no angel."
Another Times story on the Planned Parenthood gunman's past described him as a "gentle loner."
Both instances have since been scrubbed from the online versions of the paper -- but the pattern is clear. The New York Times, the United States' paper of record, is showing an editorial prejudice which encourages sympathy for white mass murderers, while seeding suspicion of unarmed black victims. This pattern is troubling and dangerous, and it's got to stop.
Tell The New York Times to acknowledge it has a race problem and apologize.
This pattern of demonizing black victims and humanizing white killers is not only racist, it's dangerous. With racial tensions at a high not seen since the Civil Rights movement, choosing thoughtful and unbiased language is more important than ever. The New York Times, with over 2 million subscribers, has the power to shape public narrative and the responsibility to report fairly and without prejudice. However unconscious. And that means owning up to its own bias.
After public outcry, the Associated Press updated its style guide to remove the term “illegal immigrant". This was an crucial narrative shift that helped restore dignity to undocumented migrants from all over the world.
Now it's time for the New York Times to be as deliberate about challenging its own prejudice.
The fact that the Times has already removed this harmful language from its papers shows that it knows it's a problem. But just removing it isn't enough -- the NYT needs to write an editorial note acknowledging the change and the reason for it, and then make sure this doesn't happen again.
Demand the New York Times take responsibility for its biased language and take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.
New York Times Decides Not To Use the Word 'Gentle' To Describe the Planned Parenthood Shooter, After All, Gawker, Nov 29
"I just want to note that The New York Times is running this as a headline." Google+