On Thursday evening Minneapolis had its first race riot in ten years. In the course of executing a search warrant at a North Minneapolis drug haven, one of the targets sicced a pit bull on the police. The officer shot and killed the dog, but one bullet ricocheted off the pavement and hit an eleven year-old in the arm. That was apparently all that was necessary to trigger a rampage against the white journalists covering the event, one of whom was our old friend Judy Borger of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Judy and one or two other journalists took refuge in a store owned by a gentleman who sounds like an African immigrant.
The Pioneer Press account of the riot makes clear the racial nature of the riot and the assaults on the journalists. As one can deduce from the Pioneer Press account, the assaults were “hate crimes.” Yet today one searches the follow-up stories in vain for any notation of this fact let alone any identification of the perpetrators who assaulted the journalists and their vehicles. Today’s Pioneer Press follow-up is nevertheless extremely informative. Among other piquant facts, one learns that at least ten children were found in the house that was the subject of the search warrant and that the family that inhabits the house has a long and unfriendly relationship with the Minneapolis police. One also learns that the raid was probably triggered by neighborhood demands on the police. Judy Borger also has a separately bylined follow-up on neighborhood reactions. (Judy’s acquaintances should know that her car was torched in the “melee.” I personally would find it difficult to maintain a detached tone under the circumstances. She’s a pro)
Minnesota’s dominant newspaper is the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune, a newspaper whose pervasive political correctness has made it a chronic national laughingstock. Rocket Man and I have had a friendly relationship with the Star Tribune both professionally and as an outlet for our opinion pieces. We therefore have no interest in flogging this particular horse, although we have been interested in the Star Tribune’s coverage of this event both because two of their reporters became assault victims in it and because it is a major Minneapolis story.
We make the following observations in no particular order of importance. First, the St. Paul Pioneer Press has simply whipped the Strib in its coverage of this story in the heart of the Strib’s beat. Compare, for example, the Strib’s page-one story by Kavita Kumar on the morning after the riot with the Pioneer Press account of the same morning (the link is at the beggining of the second paragraph of this post). Among other things, the reader is left to deduce the racial component of the assaults from the Strib story; the Pioneer Press account expressly addresses the racial nature of the assaults. At least the text of the Kumar story refers to the events of Thursday evening as a “rampage.” Kumar’s story also seems to me a little out of focus. More than anything else, I am struck by how much clearer the Pioneer Press account of the nature of the events is. The Pioneer Press seems to have recognized the importance of the story instantly and gotten a team of reporters to the scene; they outmanned Kumar and it shows. The Strib studiously avoids referring to the “melee” as a riot.
Today’s principal Strib follow-up story refers to the events exclusively as a “melee” or an “incident.” Waking up a little late to the magnitude of the story, the Strib has assigned five or six more reporters to the story. The rest of today’s coverage in the Strib includes “Injured boy home, relatives angry with police,” “Experts: Distrust makes another melee likely,” and “Police called often to corner at heart of troubled district.” The Strib also carries a Doug Grow column on the riot and chimes in with its own utterly characteristic editorial, “North Side melee/It must not sidetrack progress.”
For the moment, I simply want to compile and contrast the coverage of this important event in the Twin Cities’ only two newspapers. The underlyling riot and the institutional responses to it obviously provide much fodder for additional reflection, but I will save that for the coming days.
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