Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Local TV station reports: 'Hispanic man' shot in Baton Rouge

I read this story several times and for the life of me I can't figure out the relevance of the shooting victim's ethnicity.

Hispanic man shot outside apartment complex on Blvd. de Province

Posted: Feb 25, 2009 05:11 AM CST

Updated: Feb 25, 2009 05:33 AM CST

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A 37-year-old Hispanic man was shot in the chest Tuesday morning by an unknown gunman outside a Baton Rouge apartment complex.

The shooting happened just after 11:30am at 1718 Blvd. de Province.

Police say a black man walked up to the victim and just shot him.

They say it happened for no apparent reason.

The suspect then got into a gray car with three other black men inside and they drove off.

Police say the victim was taken to a local hospital in stable condition.

The suspected shooter is described as being in his late teens to early 20s, 5'8" - 5'10" tall, weighing 140 lbs. - 150 lbs., with dreadlocks.

Police say a 26-year-old Hispanic man was shot at the same complex Monday during an attempted robbery.

They don't know yet whether the two shootings are related but the description of the suspect is very similar.
This is a racist style of news writing that fell out of favor, or should have, generations ago. Why on earth did the writer feel the need to even mention the victim's ethnicity, to say nothing of making it the central focus of the narrative?

Is the shooting deemed newsworthy because the victim is Hispanic? If so, why?

Are we to infer that the assault on this man would have been more or less tragic had he been white or black or asian?

And what is the point of mentioning that another "Hispanic man" was shot earlier in the same apartment complex? Do police believe that someone is targeting Hispanics? If so, that would make the victim's race newsworthy, but the story gives no indication of this.

Rather, it is by all appearances simply a gratuitous racial distinction.

In the Louisiana town where I grew up, the local newspaper maintained separate obituary columns for blacks and whites for much longer than was culturally justifiable. The paper did not abandon its "Colored Deaths" obit column until the 1970s.

This story reminds me of that.

This kind of writing has no place in American journalism in the 21st century.

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