February 03, 2015

Rapid City Journal apologizes for headline

Many Natives criticized the misleading headline noted in Racist City Journal Blames Kids. The Native American Journalists Association provided an official response:

Rapid City Journal responds to NAJA concerns over irresponsible headline

By Rebecca LandsberryThe Rapid City Journal published a regrettable headline and flawed story on Saturday that represents one of the more troubling examples of irresponsible coverage of Native Americans in recent years. The newspaper has begun to address the problematic headline but further measures should be taken both in the short-term and long-term.

The newspaper's headline "Did Native students stand for National Anthem?" ran with its top story in the Saturday print edition--the latest in the paper's coverage of how children from the Pine Ridge Reservation became the target of racially charged insults. The headline fell short of the standards of responsible journalism, as it indirectly suggested that elementary and middle school students could have been responsible for prompting the harassment. The headline was the result of phrasing that was not well thought out on the paper's part, and outcry over the headline has been swift in the Rapid City region and beyond via social media.
And:Here's more on the troubling headline and why NAJA, as a journalism organization, finds it and elements of the story so problematic:

Whether intentionally or not, the newspaper was party to victim blaming because of a headline based on an anonymous source's disputed allegations.

The headline suggests a decision by adults or children to stand or sit for the National Anthem is relevant to the incident that took place at the hockey arena. It isn't.

With the story, the Journal suggests to the public--even if inadvertently--that there could be some measure of logical explanation for the deplorable actions that included shouting racial slurs at children if any person in their group from the American Horse School on the Pine Ridge Reservation chose not to stand. There isn't.
Soon after this, the newspaper apologized:

OURS: Journal erred on anthem headline

By Bart PfankuchA justifiable anger has resulted from a headline that appeared in the Rapid City Journal on Saturday, Jan. 31. It is now abundantly clear that the headline about the National Anthem is troubling to this community and our readers.

To some, the headline signified that there was a justification for the harassment of Native American students at the Rush hockey game on Saturday, Jan 24. This was not our intent. There is no justification for such racist behavior. There can never be any justification for the appalling way those students and their chaperons were treated at the game.
Comment:  Good for them for apologizing. But how did that headline get by multiple levels of editors?

There's no way they could've justified it rationally. It jumped out at everyone, immediately, as accusing the children of being the problem.

This is a classic case of implicit bias. The editors obviously didn't think they were doing anything prejudicial, but they obviously were.

For more on the subject, see The Science of Racism.

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