Saturday, April 05, 2008

Even gang members recognize bad journalism when they see it

Usually, when local papers write about gangs, they generally focus on what gang activity means for white people. They include the perspective of police, teachers, non-profits and government officials, but almost never gang members themselves.

This is not surprising, as most reporters generally don't have a lot of contacts who belong to the economic class that makes up gang membership. And with local newspaper profits largely dependent on real estate advertisements, publishers have little incentive to include the perspective of people who can't afford to buy houses.

So when two recent shootings renewed my alma mater's interest in gang activity in Mountain View, the only person who seemed to be concerned enough to do something about the unbalanced coverage was a Norteno.

The Voice received an unexpected visit last week from a Mountain View Norteno who says he is trying to clean up his life for the sake of his child.


The gang member, whose name is being withheld for his safety and his family's safety, wanted to shed light on the gang culture ...

The article goes on to cite a single anonymous source, even when he makes factual claims that could be easily verified or disproved. You almost have to admire a story that is this open about how little work actually went into it.


Anonymous said...

Tell you what, Jon, you go out and get me a 300-word story with a quote from an identified Mountain View Norteno, and I'll give you $100.

Or, show me a story you wrote during your time here featuring a quote from an identified Mountain View Norteno, and I'll give you ... let's say $20.

Better yet, quote me a single factual claim "that could be easily verified or disproved" from the recent story you dislike so much, and I'll give you $20.

All in all, you stand to make $140 here. And the Voice will have finally "balanced" its coverage. (Because there's two opposing points of view here, the cops'/teachers'/nonprofits' vs. the gang members' ... right?)


Nemesis of Evil said...


I don't dislike the story so much. My point is that I would like to see more of it.

I think you're missing the point of having a blog. It's so I can point out what other people are doing wrong rather than try to do it correctly myself. You obviously have a lot to learn about the digital revolution.

The claim that could be verified or disproved (I imagine the latter, but I don't know), is that Alex Fernandez's death was the first "real gang shooting" in Mountain View. Also, the gang member's story is interesting, but I'd think there's a better way of demonstrating the link between low-income neighborhoods and gang activity than simply accepting his opinion.

$140 would be more money than I ever imagine this blog would net, though.