Sharon Boyd, Editor/Publisher

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11/20/03  Filtering the News is Harmful.


When we first heard about the armed robberies on Greenville Avenue, it was not from The Dallas Morning News (our only daily newspaper).  It was from one of the victims who contacted     JC: 
Great Job! 
These pc pundits are dangerous in their own right.

I put her in touch with Avi Adelman ( whose life work is cleaning up Greenville Avenue.

Molly subsequently e-mailed me with the following:

  Hello Sharon,
I appreciate your quick response this morning.  Anyhow, I am the individual that was leaving the Barney Stone at approximately 9:15 yesterday evening.

My friend, Jodie C, and I were walking around the back to the
parking lot where we had parked the car.  We were almost to our car when 2 black males approximately 25-28 years of age were coming toward us, put guns to our heads and threatened to shoot us in the head....

Molly T

Avi Adelman got busy and got media and community attention to the robberies.  Unfortunately, it was just the beginning of a rash of muggings. 

Lower Greenville patrons on edge
11:25 PM CST on Monday, November 10, 2003 


'Fed up with it' Robberies cause many to keep closer tabs on Lower Greenville
12:45 PM CST on Saturday, November 15, 2003
By GRETEL C. KOVACH / The Dallas Morning News

In neither article, did the reporters mention the appearance or ethnicity of the muggers.  Molly identified them as "2 black males" in her e-mail to me.  She most certainly advised the DMN reporters about what the muggers looked like, but the reporter did not think it was relevant.

JC to DMN's Gretel C. Kovach and Steve Blow:
    The Dallas Morning News must also take responsibility for these crimes as the DMN DOES NOT even put in a partial description of suspects when it is available to them.

     As has been stated before, ANY description of a suspect will at least put the public on a higher alert and possible help in the apprehension of the criminals.  But the DMN, in its effort not to "offend" people, has decided to make race an issue and not print the race of a still on -the-loose suspect unless the DMN "feels" it can help.

   And once again I am telling you any description is better than nothing as you would agree to if it was you or someone you knew who was a victim.
Gretel C. Kovach in response:
    Thank you for responding, hope you enjoyed the article.
     I decided not to include details about the race of the suspects because none of the victims had anything more than the vaguest of descriptions. Publishing something that said "Be on the lookout for a young black male" would have declared a huge portion of the Dallas population as potential criminal suspects. Back when I attended the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University they taught us that publishing such vague descriptions is unethical.
    If the police or victims are able to come up with a more detailed description that could actually aid in identifying the suspects, I will of course include it in any future stories. I am sorry if someone you knew was a victim of these robberies; that is why I wanted to write the story.
Sincerely,  Gretel C. Kovach

JC was, and is still, correct.  There is no reason not to have identified the muggers as 2 Black males.  It may be politically correct, but it is dangerously uninformative.

That was interesting, but there apparently is a new Code at the DMN.  It may have been imposed since Belo felt it necessary to import a Flower Child from Arizona to run things at our only daily newspaper, but it may just be coincidental.   Kim Norton:
Thank you for the honesty about the Lower Greenville crimes & the way the DMN behaves.  It doesn't matter what race anyone is.  However, why omit it for fear of offending? 
   Kudos to you for fighting to keep truth in the media.  Without people like you the citizens of Dallas & those who patronize the city would never hear more than what they feel we should know.

Then Wednesday, the DMN posted a horrifying story on its web site about a string of gang assaults on patrons at the CityPlace Loew's Theatre. 

Who knows if we would ever know about them without the internet.  The stories were circulating on the internet before the theatre or CityPlace or the DPD were advising the public about the dangerous situation.   P.D. Sterling:
s an aside, there was an armed hold up at the Post Office on Oak LawnDPD doesn't know anything about it because it's a Federal thing. yeesh!


Mob attacks at Dallas theater raise safety concerns
02:08 PM CST on Wednesday, November 19, 2003
By KIMBERLY DURNAN / Dallas Web Staff
 A mob of at least 20 youths has attacked moviegoers outside the Loews Cineplex at Cityplace at least three times since early October, prompting a police investigation and increased patrols in the business district. . . .

Nowhere in the story does the reporter identify the ethnicity of the gang members.  Do you think they are Black because CityPlace is near Roseland Homes (a DHA housing project)?  Not necessarily.  They may be Hispanic from some accounts.  By withholding the information, people hearing about the assaults may assume they are area kids.  Others are claiming the gangs are taking DART light rail into the CityPlace station to do these beatings. 

Do you really think 20 hoodlums who just beat up another human being are going to run back to the DART station and wait for the next train and load up under camera scrutiny to go home?  It could happen, but I doubt it.

Since the Greenville Avenue stories had already shown a pattern of the DMN not identifying the ethnicity of the suspects, I contacted Kimberly Durnan about her not mentioning the ethnicity of the gangs.  This was our exchange:

From:  Sharon Boyd
To: Kimberly Durnan
Subject: CityPlace Assaults

Ms. Durnan:
   Thank you for an honest report.  Still, why aren't you identifying the ethnicity of the attackers?
From: Durnan, Kimberly
Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 2:51 PM
To:  Sharon Boyd
Subject: CityPlace Assaults

Ms. Boyd:
    Thanks for the email. I grappled with whether or not to name the race of the
attackers and victims and eventually decided against it. We don't identify
criminal suspects by race unless we have additional descriptive information
such as a tattoo, facial hair, height and weight. I didn't have any of that.
Also,  victims said there were no racial slurs or anything to make them
think the attacks were raced based. 
From:  Sharon Boyd
To: Kimberly Durnan
Subject: CityPlace Assaults
    Problem is -- most people are assuming they are Black.  As I understand it from contacts in East Dallas, the gang is Hispanic.  This is important.  Not  only to the victims, but to future victims.  Hair color and tattoos are not big items when you are talking about a gang.  It's hard to see any detail when multiple attackers are involved.

Guess what I'm writing about tonight on -- the way your paper continues to MANAGE the news we have to get from the internet rather than our only daily newspaper.

How dare they withhold information from citizens of this city? 

Unfortunately, Wednesday night's report on Ch. 11 about the CityPlace gang attacks only differed from the DMN report by saying there were 6 attacks rather than 3. 

Ch. 11 didn't tell the ethnicity of the gangs either.  Why?

What has happened to us that people who are supposed to report the news think we "can't handle it"?  Are they all suddenly Jack Nicholson responding to Tom Cruise?
    Stan Aten:
  On Wed (11/12/03, just before 4 pm),
I was approaching the DART Cedars Station.  I had checked the clock on my cell phone because  I was concerned the train would be early.  
   A Red Line train from the south arrived, and a number of kids exited the train followed by a
swarm of DART police.   The police ordered the kids to get on the ground and spread their legs.  About a dozen kids sprawled on the ground.  The police searched them and wrote a few tickets.
   At 4 pm the next day, there was a large presence of DART police at the same station.  Kids got off the train, and the police chased them as they exited the train.
  I asked around and got the following Most of the kids were from the DISD Alternative School.   There have been a lot of reports in
recent months of teenagers harassing and robbing riders on the DART trains.  
   This problem got out of control because you almost never see a DART officer on a train even to check tickets. 
   Things are calmed down this week; however, I never saw this story in The Dallas Morning News.

I am sick of the local media MANAGING our news. 








  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8