It’s nothing new to most of us that President Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants has fueled anger and hate against Latinos and people south of the border. So when I saw a recent story by The Washington Post, I thought when did the media get into the business of creating stories that fuel the same hate and division between the two sides: White people and immigrants.
The Washington Post has some of the best reporters in the country. No doubt about it. But the story by Terrence McCoy took the Post’s journalistic standards to a new low.
“White, and in the minority” is a story about a White couple who currently works in a chicken factory in Pennsylvania. The majority of their coworkers are Dominican and Puerto Rican. If McCoy was out to make the White people appear as victims and outsiders, mission accomplished. If the reporter was out to make immigrants appear like threatening, menacing thugs; once again, mission accomplished.
McCoy’s entire story was framed to put immigrants and Puerto Ricans in a bad light and make readers feel sorry for the young White couple.
“Heaven often feels alienated and frustrated…”
McCoy peppered his story with loaded words and phrases that only create fear among readers, especially those who are White.
“In a country where Whites will lose majority status in about a quarter-century…”
Journalist are taught when you make a statement, you should have attribution. McCoy made this statement, but never said who said “Whites will lose majority status?”
“Seven minutes left: Employees gathered around Heaven, first three, then four, then six.”
This phrase alone made it appear like the immigrants were ganging up on the White female. All they did was show up for work at the same time.
“Studies have shown how some whites, who are dying faster than they’re being born in 26 states…”
Again a statement made with no attribution. Who said this? What study revealed this information?
“Heaven, looking at the floor, heard laughter and jokes exchanged in the rapid Spanish of the Dominican Republic.”
This sentence made it appear like the immigrants were laughing at the young white female. The reporter only perpetuated the stereotype that Spanish-speaking people only speak in Spanish to talk about White people who don’t understand what is being said.
“They feel threatened, even if not directly affected by change…”
McCoy got this statement from a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, but did not bother to ask the professor to speculate how the immigrants feel?
“She felt more alone than she’d ever thought possible.”
Once again, McCoy made it appear the immigrants purposely isolated the woman. Did he share this with the immigrant workers? Do they have any idea she feels “alone?”
“There were days when Venson imagined what might await America. This would be a nation where whites weren’t only a minority, but disadvantaged.”
Another loaded statement that makes it appear like the couple will be stripped away of a good life and should fear minorities.
If the chicken factory was full of immigrants and Puerto Ricans, why didn’t McCoy ask them how they felt being the majority. Do they know that Heaven and her boyfriend feel “threatened?”
The couple’s story is important, but so is the point of view of their coworkers.
BACKLASH COMES FROM EVERYWHERE
This story is not sitting well with a lot of people. Latino Rebels posted “Why The Washington Post’s ‘White, and the minority’ Story is So Damn Dangerous.” The author of the blog said,
McCoy makes us all want to take out the tissues and cry for our two white tragic heroes (seriously, that’s how it reads), but it’s McCoy’s ridiculous depictions of the “foreign” Latino workers (who lack any humanity in any part of the piece) that stand out, while Engle and Heim (even with their racism) come across as these misunderstood figures who need sympathy.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists issued a statement on Friday morning. NAHJ President Hugo Balta hopes to meet with the Post’s Editor-in-Chief to discuss the issue. The organization’s statement partly read:
The story, ‘White, and in the minority’ published on July 30, does not provide a variety of viewpoints at the center of the topic, but instead leaves readers focused almost entirely on one viewpoint. The national board has discussed the danger this poses and questions the journalism of the story.
McCOY DEFENDS HIS STORY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF IS STANDING BY REPORTER AND HIS WORK
Despite all the backlash, Terrence McCoy continues to defend his story via Twitter. He also continues to stick to the narrative about the poor, poor White couple.
A source who contacted Marty Baron, told me the Post’s Editor-in-Chief is standing by the reporter and the story, and even said that the story was approved by an editor who is a person of color.
I’d like to know how many Latinos or immigrants are part of the editorial staff.
As journalists, our job is to inform the public. It is not our job to create a racial divide and peg one group of people against another. The Washington Post failed the immigrant and Latino community. Let’s hope decision makers at the Post open their minds and look at it from our point of view.