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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Why Did @PilotNews Not Report This?

A chilling story of two Virginian-Pilot reporters, beaten by a pack of teens roaming the streets.
Wave after wave of young men surged forward to take turns punching and kicking their victim.
The victim's friend, a young woman, tried to pull him back into his car. Attackers came after her, pulling her hair, punching her head and causing a bloody scratch to the surface of her eye. She called 911. A recording told her all lines were busy. She called again. Busy. On her third try, she got through and, hysterical, could scream only their location.
Yet, the Virginian-Pilot did not report the story.  It took a Pilot opinion columnist to break the silence.
Forster and Rostami's story has not, until today, appeared in this paper. The responding officer coded the incident as a simple assault, despite their assertions that at least 30 people had participated in the attack. A reporter making routine checks of police reports would see "simple assault" and, if the names were unfamiliar, would be unlikely to write about it. In this case, editors hesitated to assign a story about their own employees. Would it seem like the paper treated its employees differently from other crime victims?
Even worse, there was chatter about the incident on Twitter.
The next day, Forster searched Twitter for mention of the attack.

One post chilled him.

"I feel for the white man who got beat up at the light," wrote one person.

"I don't," wrote another, indicating laughter. "(do it for trayvon martin)"
One commenter on the Pilot web site wonders if the paper's reaction would have been different if the race of the perps and the victims had been reveresed?

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