While I am grateful for the local coverage of the Ashe County Black Lives Matter protest, the “Protesters march in West Jefferson against police brutality and racism” online article and printed newspaper are problematic both in the lack of critical context and placement.
1. The description of George Floyd’s death is not only inadequate, but it also minimizes the context of the historic demonstration.
Using the same amount of words, the article could have articulated that white police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder for the death of George Floyd during an arrest attempt by applying extreme force and compression to the back of his neck.
Providing enough detail ensures your narrative is factual and provides the much-needed background for this protest.
2. The article was published online June 6 but was buried on page three of the next print issue, June 10. Given that a story about volunteers honored merited front-page coverage in that same print issue, I am appalled that the protest wasn’t placed more prominently in print. Noting this disparity leads me to question if the staff and editors attempted to lessen the awareness and impact of the protest, and to question your editorial values.
Companies and media organizations are taking a closer look at their implicit and explicit biases around race. It’s time for the Ashe Post and Times to do the same. I offer my own experience as a researcher for “The Black Narrative” project at North Carolina A&T State University to support your efforts in building a responsive and responsible news organization.
Black Child Development Institute-Greensboro, Communications Specialist N.C. A&T State University. The writer was a co-organizer of the protest march in West Jefferson on June 6.