It's not every day you read an article in a major newspaper stating unequivocally that media radically misreported a current event that made national headlines, especially one with a racial component.
However, that's exactly what happened Wednesday when the Christian Science Monitor published an article written by the assistant editor of the Jena Times about how press outlets "got most of the basics wrong" concerning the beating of a white student by six black students in Jena, Louisiana.
In fact, the author, Craig Franklin, was by no means shy with his criticism of just how poorly media behaved (emphasis added, h/t Glenn Reynolds):
The media got most of the basics wrong. In fact, I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.
I should know. I live in Jena. My wife has taught at Jena High School for many years. And most important, I am probably the only reporter who has covered these events from the very beginning.
The reason the Jena cases have been propelled into the world spotlight is two-fold: First, because local officials did not speak publicly early on about the true events of the past year, the media simply formed their stories based on one-side's statements - the Jena 6. Second, the media were downright lazy in their efforts to find the truth. Often, they simply reported what they'd read on blogs, which expressed only one side of the issue.
The real story of Jena and the Jena 6 is quite different from what the national media presented. It's time to set the record straight.
The article then listed the top twelve myths concerning this matter which readers are highly encouraged to review.
After these myths were exposed, Franklin marvelously concluded:
These are just 12 of many myths that are portrayed as fact in the media concerning the Jena cases. (A more thorough review of all events can be found at www.thejenatimes.net - click on Chronological Order of Events.)
As with the Duke Lacrosse case, the truth about Jena will eventually be known. But the town of Jena isn't expecting any apologies from the media. They will probably never admit their error and have already moved on to the next "big" story. Meanwhile in Jena, residents are getting back to their regular routines, where friends are friends regardless of race. Just as it has been all along.
Somehow it seems quite unlikely that any of the major press outlets are going to interview Franklin any time soon.
I wonder why that is.