Fact-checking institute Poynter is demanding that local news stations reduce coverage of stories that connect “Black and brown communities” to violent crime because it is fueling “systemic racism.”
The institute, which oversees the International Fact-Checking Network which operates Politifact, put out a statement urging journalists to “break the cycle of crime reporting.”
Arrests for misdemeanors disproportionately affect people of color. Systemic racism compounds the injustice as reviews have shown that prosecutors are more likely to exclude Black jurors from trials.
The crime and courts beat exists because it’s constantly churning out stories. Much of that content is directly related to public safety. Journalists can be smarter about who we cover and the follow-up stories we provide. Kelly McBride, who chairs the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership at Poynter, said, “Local news reporters have amplified narratives that connect Black and brown communities to crime. As a result, we have fostered systemic racism through our crime coverage.”
It’s within our power as journalists to break that cycle. We don’t need to publicize the crime blotter simply because it fills airtime or generates clicks.
The announcement was made at the same time that Politifact asserted that a claim the Austin-American Statesman deliberately omitted a mass shooting suspect’s description because he was black is “false.”
However, the original report stated the reason for not including a description of the suspect was because it “could be harmful in perpetuating stereotypes,” meaning that Politifact is outright lying.