Friday, April 13, 2007

Fannie Flono: Journalistic Goddess

I have spilled a bit of ink criticizing professional journalists for performing their jobs poorly. My degree in journalism, that has sat around gathering dust for a number of years, apparently gives me the right to offer this criticism - at least in my mind.

Today, though, I am calling out a journalist in order to heap praise. Fannie Flono, as associate editor at The Charlotte Observer, has written a column that has me cheering. She handles the explosive Imus and Duke cases with grace and speaks with a voice of reason. She also manages to smack down professional journalists and bloggers without really saying anything unkind. Ouch!

On the Duke case and Imus incident:
As Don Imus was getting canned for racist and misogynist remarks about the female Rutgers basketball team, members of the male Duke lacrosse team were being exonerated of specious and unsubstantiated rape charges in Durham. Imus, a middle-aged white radio "shock jock," aimed his incendiary words at black female athletes. A black female exotic dancer aimed her incendiary accusation at white male athletes.
She says so much more on each case and she does so using a minimum of words. I love the way she writes.

On professional journalists:
Many in the media performed badly in the Duke case. What passes for journalism these days is too often stenographic, "he said-she said" reporting. Too many of us have forgotten the main imperative: "Seek the truth." Giving both sides a say isn't the same thing.
I know BlueNC's Anglico and I have often referred to professional journalists as stenographers, especially when they parrot a candidate like Robin Hayes or an organization like the John Locke Foundation without doing personal research to determine if the information they have been given is actually true. It happens all the time. We're sick of it.

Blogging has exploded as a form of news gathering and distribution because the corporate media no longer practises real journalism. Some bloggers only present their side. The difference is that they don't do it under the guise of being an objective news source. We are openly biased.

About "denigration as sport" (shock jocks, shock bloggers, etc.):
When Imus cavalierly called the women on Rutgers basketball team "nappy-headed hos," he exposed the racist and sexist discourse many of us -- blacks, whites and others -- accept and applaud. Under the protective cloak of raging against "political correctness," Imus and others make sport of denigrating people.

Black women are a particular target, especially dark-skinned black women. Curiously, Imus called the women on the Tennessee team that beat Rutgers for the NCAA championship "cute," though many of them were light-skinned black women.

And yes, rappers, music producers and far too many men, especially black men, are guilty, too......
Flono didn't specifically say this applies to bloggers, but too many of us have strayed over the line of decency in the name- calling arena. I include myself in this group.

Fannie Flono's most recent column isn't just food for thought, it is a feast.

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