Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Al Sharpton, Call Your Office: Westchester Newspaper Tries to Foment Racial Tension Where None Exists

The Journal-News Pulls A Story Out of Its [Black] Hat

Not that we're in the habit of siding with fatcat developers, but in the case of one Louis Cappelli in ever-tonier White Plains, N.Y., he and his compadres have a legitimate gripe.
The source of their discontent is The Journal-News, the consistently underachieving broadsheet that is the nominal paper of record for New York's northern suburbs (and a former employer of mine from way back when).
The paper is very pleased with itself for an article headlined "What's missing from this Station Square picture? Black people."
Good headline. Lousy story.
Cappelli is among the developers transforming downtown White Plains -- the Westchester County seat -- into a high-end destination. The Station Square project includes fancy office buildings, a shmancy hotel and condo tower, along with a rebuilt train station amid new restaurants and shops.
But what horrifies veteran reporter Keith Eddings is that the renderings for the project don't show any minorities in the scrum of people traveling too and from, unless you look really, really hard. Eddings did.

Using a magnifying glass, The Journal News identified four blacks among 87 people whose race could be determined with some certainty.

Now, anyone who's been to White Plains knows there are plenty of blacks and other minorities who not only live in the city, but work, eat and play there as well. No amount of Photo Shopping will contradict that. So, the rendering might be inaccurate, but it's hardly a paean to white people, as Cappelli's deputy Bruce Berg angrily told Eddings.

"It's intended to show the architectural rendering of the buildings - period, full stop, end of story."

Even though Eddings also noted that photos of another Cappelli project in Yonkers show a racially mixed clientele, he persisted with his dispatch.
Eddings dug deep to find a civil-rights attorney and a former NAACP official to weigh in on "news" the paper was creating itself.
As one OP noted following the story's online version:

You call this journalism? If the publication of this story weren't so tragic, it would be funny. Unbelievable.

Unless, of course, you're a regular reader of The Journal-News.

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