From Woodstock’s Richard Rostron:
Diminishing NWHerald fails journalistic test in coverage of Back the Blue ride
The rapidly diminishing Northwest Herald further demonstrated why McHenry County is better off the faster this publication vanishes with the manner in which it handled coverage of the Back the Blue ride Saturday.
While close to 1,000 people turned out to support the embattled police in and beyond McHenry County, the front-page photo in the Herald suggested something completely different.
There were a handful of ‘Black Lives Matter’ protestors by the police stations where the riders stopped.
Yet they were overwhelmingly outnumbered by those supporting men and women in blue.
But the front-page photo and headline left readers and ‘glancers’ with an entirely different impression.
With an incredibly photo-rich environment (an almost endless line of Harley Davidsons and other motorcycles), the Herald chose a photo of a solo Honda Goldwing from behind as it passed a group of BLM protestors with their signage.
And the headline read, “Rallies Converge(:) Demonstrations for Black Lives Matter, police support take place in McHenry County.”
Inside the paper, there were stories from both sides of the issue: the riders for the Blue on Page 4 with a small jump to Page 7, and BLM with large sections of Pages 6 and 7.
Keep in mind that, in the previous two-plus weeks, there were at least five times the Herald dedicated the front page to Black Lives Matter coverage.
Almost everybody knows that BLM ‘demonstrations’ were taking place in McHenry County.
The Herald ran an additional story on Wednesday that gave the riders a greater share of coverage, including the front page.
But that doesn’t change the fact that, on the day after the event, the Herald turned the front-page coverage into a story that virtually suggested bikers were infringing on a BLM event rather than BLM protestors showing up during an event for bikers and others who support the police.
You may think this is a trifle and nothing to complain about.
Don’t kid yourself.
All journalists, even those who have long since abandoned journalistic ethics, know that 90-plus-percent of ‘readers’ never read beyond the first sentence.
That’s why the first sentence in journalism is called ‘the lead.’
The lead is where journalists are allowed more words – as many as 40 words – while the rest of the story they shoot for around 25-words per sentence.
I referred to ‘glancers’ above because I know, and the Northwest Herald knew when it published its misleading front-page photo and headline, that a vast majority of the people who saw the paper would never go beyond a glance at the front page.
While the Herald gave generally balanced coverage inside, though more copy was dedicated to BLM on a day when they were only reacting to another group’s event, there is more than a tendency on the part of the Herald to accept the BLM argument of “systemic racism.”
But there is no sincere effort to challenge the idea.
America is not a systemically racist country.
We have laws, including amendments to the constitution and long-standing affirmative action, that prove the ‘system’ is not racist today.
To the degree that there is racism, it is not embraced at the level of the constitutional and legal systems.
This isn’t debatable.
Therefore, the real question is, to what degree, do we have extra-constitutional and extra-legal racism in our society.
BLM and the Northwest Herald have demonstrated a complete lack of interest in an honest appraisal of racism in America today.
This is much like the attitude of slave owners who didn’t want to look too closely at the principles of liberty in the Declaration of Independence for fear that they would have to accept a truth that didn’t fit their narrative.
And whatever side of the issue you’re on, the Herald’s coverage is indicative of an equally dishonest approach.