On Point / Mixed messages

Richard Koritz
Posted 8/11/21

On Point / Mixed messages

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

On Point / Mixed messages


Sometimes the story behind the story, or even how the story is presented, is actually the story. Recent news events appear to support that thought.

In Portland, Oregon the riots continue and the City administration/council continues to advocate for the defunding of the police. This past week a small group (50 ) of individuals met for a Christian rally in the city. The meeting had been announced. The Antifa group appeared and disrupted and vandalized the meeting. Portland police were present and did nothing.

The media reported the story of the vandalism, but little was said about the police. The police may have been directed by the city administration to do nothing or the officers may be so demoralized by the city’s lack of support for their efforts that they chose to do nothing. Police officers simply do not allow criminal behavior to occur in front of them and then take no action unless there is an ulterior direction. That is the story that needed to be investigated and reported on by the news media covering Portland.

Chicago had more shootings over the weekend and one got more attention than the others. A female Chicago police officer was shot and killed and her partner wounded by gunfire in a traffic related incident. That is a story worth covering on its own merits and to their credit the Chicago press has given it much coverage. As in Portland, there are those in authority in Chicago that wish to defund the police. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot went to the hospital where the officers were taken. Such a visit by a mayor or elected officials is common in this country and is typically and universally appreciated by the law enforcement community.  Chicago police officers did not appear to appreciate the mayor’s presence. When the mayor entered the hospital where a large number of police officers were present, half of those officers visibly turned their backs to the mayor. The symbolism of that action speaks volumes on how the average police officer in Chicago views the city administration.

The death of a police officer in the line of duty certainly warrants coverage by the press. The story not receiving much coverage is the officer’s reaction to the city administration after the death of the officer. That is the story that needs more attention by the media and the public.

Another story from last week also needs mentioning.

A black realtor in Michigan was showing a residence to a black client in a significantly white area of the city. Police were called and the realtor and the client were cuffed by the police as the exited the house. The police were chastised in the press with headlines of white officers cuffing black realtor and black client. Those facts are correct.

What most people did not do is read the rest of the article. That particular house had been burglarized the week prior and neighbors had called the police stating they believed the house was again being burglarized by the same individual. The police officers had responded to what they believed to be a potential burglary in progress.

The individuals detained were detained for less than 10 minutes while the police verified they were indeed a realtor and client. Those racial headlines were the story that most of the public read. Most people do not read the whole story. In reality, this was a non-story that should have never made the press. These were simply police officers doing their job to protect their community.

I can relate to this story because 50 years ago a Lincoln police officer pointed a shotgun at me when I was in a warehouse at 2:00 AM that was supposed to be closed. I was there as my supervisor at Lehn and Fink instructed me and another individual to go to the old PPG factory and retrieve some glass for a production line at Lehn and Fink.

I was in the right, as was the officer in his approach to some dumb kid in a warehouse after hours.  It was a good laugh after the fact, but not worthy of a news article. In case your curious, you have no idea how large a shotgun is until one is pointed at you.

The press needs to do a better job at reporting facts and not embellishing headlines. In the same fashion, we as the public need to read the article and not just the headline and then question what we have read. The headlines in the realtor story were factually correct, but that wasn’t the story when context is applied. Read for bias and context and then the story will be better told.