Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hard Copy, Hard Issues

I look forward every week to reading my digital copy of the Columbia Flier. The staff does an admirable job of rounding up what's happening locally. When you consider how few people we actually have working on local news--as journalism suffers cut-back after cut-back--it's kind of amazing how good a product we are getting. For free. (At least for now.)

There's a lot in this week's issue. If you don't get the digital edition, go out and find a paper copy. A sampling of topics:

  • Downtown Development
  • Local Dems on Republican presidential nominee
  • Suspension gap in Howard County Schools
  • Arts at Avoca
  • Local interest in the Pokemon Go craze
  • New business on old Ellicott City

This is not cheap stuff. This is no PennySaver operation. Putting this out takes hard work and professionalism.

But as I reviewed this week's paper, an untold story leapt out at me. Almost everything in this week's edition could be categorized as The Stories of White People. The article about school suspensions is clearly the exception. But really, I urge you to get a copy yourself and leaf through it. Is this who we are as a community?

Is our story just The Story of White People?

I don't want to lay this at the feet of the Howard County Times. I think they are reporting on the current events that are out there. If there is an underlying bias that the white stories are more newsworthy it is an underlying bias which is pervasive throughout our culture and not a particular fault of the newspaper. The local reporters I have known have shown an equal amount of dedication to all kinds of local stories. My beef is not with them.

Rather, I look at our community and wonder if it presents itself like this. White is the norm. White stories are the news. White concerns in the letters to the editor, white people at the pool. For those of you out there shaking your head and saying, "Well, duh!" I ask you to forgive me. It never leapt out at me this way before.

Last year I was struck by the Howard County Times photographs of people at the Fourth of July fireworks. They captured the beauty of what I believe to be our multi-racial, multi-cultural community. That's the image I like to carry around in my head. Sometimes it isn't the image right in front of my face.








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