Jul 29th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page

On behalf of NABJ-Chicago’s executive board, I would like to express my disappointment at learning of Chicago-based WBBM-TV’s decision to air a quote from a four-year-old boy about gun violence in the Park Manor community, apparently without providing proper context.  As this story about the incident on the Maynard Institute’s site on July 21 points out, the child’s interview aired making it appear that his solution to gun violence in his neighborhood was to get a gun.  A WBBM-TV anchor subsequently remarked on air about this seemingly “scary” soundbite.  In actuality, as unedited video footage revealed in a July 28 follow-up, the boy said he wanted to get a gun and work as a police officer to prevent further violence. NABJ-Chicago pays particular attention to the coverage of diverse sources in all facets of the media, and while we understand deadline pressures, we encourage all news entities to be cautious in covering vulnerable communities and their members.  We hold ourselves to the same standard, having held a forum on responsibly covering violence in Chicago last year.  Though we appreciate that WBBM-TV realized its error and did not re-air the video beyond two early-morning segments, we do wish the station had taken the additional step to make its mistake clear on air.  We hope this unfortunate incident will help awaken media outlets in Chicago and the nation about the importance of context.

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