Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Irresponsible Journalism

Here are two more pieces of chainsaw art, both found on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. The first one is at the top of Ramsey Hill, and the second one is across the street from the Governor's Mansion.

The Pioneer Press newspaper here in St. Paul has had a comment feature at the end of most stories and articles on their website for awhile. I think they see it as providing a place where people can discuss the news, but unfortunately it's largely become a free space for racism and xenophobia to flow freely. There was a story yesterday about the 13 year old Vietnamese immigrant who got lost after being dropped off from an after-school activity bus at an unfamiliar stop. She wandered around in the bitter cold for about 3 hours until some kind person stopped and drove her home. She's now in the hospital with frostbite. Fortunately it's not as bad as it might be and she'll be ok. But the comments that that story attracted were wholly without merit - scolding her for not knowing English, scolding her parents for not assimilating, send-'em all back kind of stuff. The fact is, she's only been here a year, and IS in school, learning English. The fact is, she was a young teenager who had a really frightening experience in a bitterly cold, unfamiliar place where she couldn't communicate. I wonder about this need some folks have to blame her for it, AND, I wonder why the Pioneer Press continues to make this kind of space available. This is but one example of how the comment spaces are used - the truth is most of them are like this on that site. There's no thoughtful discourse there at all. Naturally they're anonymous. The paper wouldn't think of printing such drivel, nor does it routinely print anonymous letters. The other newspaper in town doesn't provide these kinds of spaces. What exactly is the point, then, and what end do these spaces serve? Not responsible journalism, certainly.

Today I'm grateful for: my parents, JR, CS, MH, a peaceful resolution to a difficult situation, the wisdom of St. Ignatius, the Visitation Monastery in North Minneapolis.
Held in prayer today: JH and SA having surgery today, Demond's family, people who work for ICE, the Peace House community, CK and friends traveling to a church mission in Jamaica, a praying workplace, Sisters of St. Joseph in Peru.

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