The media think tank Poynter Institute says that the New York Times yesterday repeated some of the same mistakes it made in its previous coverage of an 11-year-old Texas girl who allegedly was raped by 19 young men. The Times’ initial story was criticized for not identifying the race of the suspects, the follow-up makes the same questionable call.
The new story says the victim is “a sixth-grader whose parents are immigrants from Mexico.” However, the story doesn't mention the race of the 19 black suspects, and it doesn't show photos of them as many other news organizations have. It seems odd that the victim's race would be included, Poynter says. The Poynter review said the Times followed a traditional narrative arc in covering crime: First, tell one side of the story, and then tell the other. Often, we hear the victim's side first, as told by police; then we hear the suspects' side, as told by lawyers, family or others. In this case, the order was reversed. Alternating, incomplete accounts do not create balance, Poynter says. At best, they allow readers who follow the coverage closely to form a more comprehensive picture of what happened.