Friday, August 8, 2008

Groupies for Obama

Are black journalists qualified to cover the presidential run of Sen. Barack Obama? By even engaging the question, I may have validated an inherently offensive query.

Over at The Root, Jeff Winbush takes people to task for raising the issue.

A lot of this comes from earlier scuttlebutt about the applause Obama received during his Sunday morning appearance at the UNITY Convention in Chicago a couple weeks ago. I missed the final day of the conference, thus I didn't have much of a read on the scene.

One of my former colleagues in Shreveport shares some of his thoughts about the reaction here. His was a much more nuanced analysis of the event than someone like, say, John Leo of the New York Daily News who said, "This was a convention of journalists, not a rally of groupies for Obama."

I'm not going to even get into the double standard applied to black reporters, which means someone like Leo might totally overlook the occasionally groupie-ish behavior of reporters in the insular world of Capitol Hill or those who scramble to take pictures with Dubya at the White House's annual Christmas party.

Not to mention, as Winbush writes, the fact that John McCain once felt comfortable enough with recorders and cameras and softball questions to refer to the media as "my base." Which black reporters do you think he included in that statement?

Anyway, I could also address the fact that plenty, if not most, of the attendees at the convention won't come anywhere near a political story, particularly one about Obama or McCain, this year. That includes myself, though I try not to air out a particular preference here for the most part. It's probably not too hard to parse the posts and figure out where I stand. But you'll never see me shilling for anyone.

That said, I'll let Winbush take it from here: If my white colleagues are confused as to where my allegiances are, let me make it clear for them: I am a human being first, a black man second and journalist last. Dead last. It's not even remotely a close call. Journalism is what I do. Black is what I am.



John P. Araujo said...

I was actually going to touch upon this topic in my blog, so your take on it would be interesting. There is a custom/tradition/assumption that journalists are supposed to be unbiased and objective in their reporting (the exception being Op-Ed columns, of course) - the proverbial "holding a mirror up to society" ideal that states that reporters are supposed to just report and not try to alter or slant the news to one's own views or biases. How true is that in real life? Is it desirable or even possible to be totally unbiased and objective? If you prefer, you can wait until I touch upon this topic on my blog before you respond (that entry will appear next week).

blackink said...

No, I can get into a little of this on here and on your spot, J.P.

I don't even think objectivity is possible - or the goal. Journalists bring everything in our background with us when we go to work and the newsroom. Our beliefs, experiences and baggage.

But as I've said before, I believe in fairness. That's what I strive for and what I believe most journalists strive for in their work.