Deliberate Distortion. Race Of Victims And Perpetrators Not Newsworthy In Crime Stories. Unless Victim Black, Perpetrator White. Then It’s The Headline!

This August 5 Philadelphia Inquirer article was reprinted in  I states that the Adelphia Restaurant and Nightclub in Deptford hired security guards with dogs “to handle the large crowds that began showing up when it fully reopened from the pandemic”.  However, does not give any information about what took place before the security guard unleashed his dog on a patron.  Although there was nothing to indicate a racial motive for the incident, both the headline and article prominently mention that the security guard was “white” and “from Virginia” while the patron was black.  Meanwhile, race of the perpetrators and victims were not mentioned at all when reported that murder charges filed in connection with the mass shooting just outside of Bridgeton on May 22.  There both the perpetrators and victims were black.

Today, republished story of Gloucester County Prosecutor charging a security guard with aggravated assault against a patron at the Adelphia Restaurant and nightclub in Deptford, New Jersey.

Its headline read “Guard charged with assault in dog attack on Black man at restaurant”.  The story later specified that the 33 year old guard was “white” and “from Virginia”.

The story said guards with dogs were hired “to handle the large crowds that began showing up at the restaurant when it fully reopened from the pandemic”.

The story did not in any way indicate that race motivated the guard to unleash his dog on the patron.  The story did not indicate whether the incident happened in connection with an unruly crowd or what those involved said or did before the incident.  Why was the race of the alleged attacker and victim mentioned in this story?

Today, August 13, the Press of Atlantic City reported that Cumberland County Prosecutor charged Zedekiah Holmes, 21,  with the murder of Kevin Elliott, 30, and Asia Hester, 25, both of Bridgeton during a mass shooting just outside the city on May 22. A third woman, Brailyn Holmes, 19, of Millville, was also also died from gunshots.  Brailyn Holmes is the sister of Zedekiah Holmes.

Neither the headline nor the story mentioned the race of the alleged perpetrator, or the victims.  All of them were black.

Is there a reason to specifying the race of perpetrators and victims in media crime stories?  If so, should that information be disclosed in all crime stories?  If such information serves no purpose, should it be left out of all crime stories?

Would it be hateful and prejudicial to only mention race when a perpetrator is black and a victim is white?

Is it not just as hateful and prejudicial to only mention race when a perpetrator is white or a police officer and the victim is black?  Yet isn’t that usually the only time the media report race in their crime stories?

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Seth Grossman, Executive Director

(609) 927-7333

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