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No, I Didn’t Take Anything: London Unrest, Rodney King and Me

August 10, 2011

In All Fairness

I was transfixed by the images of London burning as I boarded a plane this past Monday. Once I got home, I began doing my best to get the rest of the story via Twitter, Reuters, the BBC and The Guardian, among other news outlets.

I still don’t have the whole story. My dream remains finding even-handed reporting.

Flash Back

I was on assignment in LA right after the Rodney King verdict and was dismayed by much of the reportage.

Violence and crime are unacceptable. But it was just too easy then and now to have wall-to-wall coverage of pillaging thugs and burning buildings.

Then and now, I longed for an understanding of what was happening. Then and now, I didn’t want my news to be delivered via stereotypes. Then and now, I didn’t want to hear accusations substitute for interviews.

Are you listening BBC anchor? Don’t beat down a source’s point of view, even if you don’t believe agree.

The UK’s Press Complaints Commission says journalists “…must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.”

While there is  no “other side” of the story to excuse criminal behavior. Don’t lump everyone in the neighborhood together. That’s distortion.

Distorted information begets distorted perceptions.

I remember when I returned to DC, after being exposed to my first and only curfew following the King verdict,  one of the workers at my Chevy Chase gym, I think it was her job to fluff towels, asked me “What did you take?”

It’s probably better that I don’t repeat my response here.

She happened to be the member of an ethnic group that was also shown breaking into stores.

Funny, I would not have dreamed of asking her the same question.

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