8.30.2009

Nitpicking the News Vol. 1: Southern Summers

Anyone who knows me in life knows how I am when I watch the news. Some people (like my mother and sister) are irritated by it, others (like Stace and Rashan) are intrigued by it. I have a critique for everything because I used to do it. I know how it's supposed to be and point out when they should've done it different. Sometimes I'm admiring if the newscast is deserving, but sometimes not. But I notice it all the time. I had to stop watching the news for a while because it was too stressful. Actually frustrating is the more appropriate word. Anyway, I've decided to occasionally go beyond just posting the news links on the side of my blog and talk about my issues with an article.

Today's beef is with this New York Times article about the thousands of black children from the city who go South for the summer. She provides no statistical basis for this "fact." I do, indeed, know people who visit their southern relatives during the summer, but is this only a black phenomenon? That's a real question. Do white people not visit their relatives in the summer? Then the line, "No official program coordinates them, just parents seeking for relief, relatives ready for company and children looking to escape the city swelter." Who are these stupid people who don't know there's no official program? I know for some this has to be an unusual event, but really? Like there would be one that would reunite people with relatives. Though, I'm sure someone got a light bulb of a business idea from that. But what bothered me most of all is that there was only one family's perspective. If there's such a grand exodus, a yearly migration south for the summer, why do we only hear from one family? It caricatures their experiences and makes it seem like, "This is how they all do." "Watch the natives in their natural habitats." Thoughts?

*If you're looking for the movies I watched last week, just scroll down. It's the post below.

7 comments:

CNEL said...

I don't think summer exoduses are limited to black families but I do think we more than most others travel south.

You're right some of the phrasing such as no organized program, seemed a bit off.

I also agree visiting a few southern towns or cities to compare experiences would have added tremendous depth.

As for stats are there really any? But she could have tlked to a historian or sociologist for another perspective.

Rashan Jamal said...

I understand your consternation, but to me it seems like the Times follows that same format quite frequently. They pick a representative and make it fit their p.o.v. That's part of the reason I don't hold their articles in as high esteem as most other people do. To me they seem less journalistic and more anecdotal.

Jameil said...

Cnel... but how do you know that? What is that based on? The thousand or so people you've met in your life? 2k people? 3k? It's not like that's not possibly a cultural phenomenon that may be studied by anthropologists or sociologists. If you don't have a stat, don't make one up based on the people you know. That's not scientific or to be trusted no matter the source.

rj... the times often covers niche issues, definitely, but I expect to see the perspective of more than one particular group. show multiple sides if you're going to claim this is a widespread happening. i find normally that they go beyond asking one family group. i can't get 2? an expert? someone other than you and that family? nyt articles def. have an anecdotal quality which i usually like b/c i feel like i get to learn a little about a lot of different people/places/things, but i'm sure mostly b/c i'm black, but also b/c i'm teaching future journos NOT to do this, in this article it really bothered me.

CNEL said...

My sociological supposition was based on reverse analysis of "the Great Migration", just simply put given our mass exodus it would make sense for some sort of return, but I have since learned through research lol that sociologists have studied "the new Great Migration" which marks our return to our southern roots for vacations or the relocation of families for educational and professional opportunities. Yes I put my soc minor to work.

LoL I agree more context was needed for the article, but the young woman's story was interesting.

It's also been highlighted in pop culture such as through the movie "My Funny Valentine" with Alfre Woodard.

Jameil said...

absolutely interesting. we can all make assumptions based on history and the people we know, but for a news article, it's not enough. i'm not saying it doesn't happen. i'm saying you need proof. that's the whole point of journalism. & i think we've agreed it would've been even more interesting as a multi-family piece. it would allow for drawing parallels and showing differences.

Jameil said...

p.s. i'm loving this conversation! :)

Epsilonicus said...

They should have interviewed me. I have family in Georgia but I do not visit them. They are too bougie...

I can understand how you feel about NYT articles. We actually talked about that in one of my Anth classes. We were critiquing how people talk about archaeology and a classmate made the same comment about a NYT article we discussed