A Real Report
To the Editor:
I work in the Memphis City Schools system, and I was glad to finally see a real report in the media regarding the problems with the system (Cover Story, January 23rd issue). John Branston seems fair, without letting MCS off the hook for its obvious deficiencies. It is a refreshing change from "Overreaction" News 5 with their nightly wide-eyed fear tactics and diatribes against city schools. The tabloid style of most local news outfits leaves little or no room for any actual journalism. I am glad to see the Flyer filling that gap.
Using outdated information for the recent MGT study is a terrible mistake. If MCS takes the consultant's advice and cuts the Binghamton school based on this information, it will be a tragedy for the children there. This is my neighborhood, and I know firsthand how happy everyone was to hear we would be getting a school. If it is cut, it will send these kids the message that, unfortunately, many of them have been getting all their lives: "You don't count."
To the Editor:
The Flyer City Reporter article "Taking Other Actions" (January 23rd issue) was third-rate propaganda. Subtitled "'Other' minorities offered perks at historically black schools," the article mentions exactly two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). One of these does not offer any special financial benefits to nonblack students. An official at the other was quoted as saying, "HBCUs typically 'don't pull the race card' because of their open-admissions policy." Maybe someone didn't want to let reality interfere with a great-sounding phrase.
Likewise, how can "[a] stroll along the campus of Memphis' LeMoyne-Owen College [reveal] a concerted effort for a diversified population"? First, the article says LeMoyne-Owen offers no financial incentives for nonblacks. Then, figures show the campus is grotesquely nonrepresentative of diversity. Your reporter concludes that a nonblack student body of less than 3.3 percent ("almost 40" out of 1,200 students) is reflective of a diverse student body and that the "administration realizes the importance of a diverse student body"!
By comparison, state Rep. Lois DeBerry threatened UT-Knoxville's funding some months ago because that school's student body (12 percent black) didn't adequately reflect the state's 16 percent black populace. Never mind that using raw population numbers rather than those qualified for four-year college admission inflates her issue or that the six Tennessee HBCUs divert thousands of black students from institutions like UT-Knoxville. UT-Knoxville, of course, immediately announced plans for more sensitivity -- and more financial aid for blacks, more black-study programs, more black group-housing options, etc. (although to many it seemed that segregated programs and housing defeat the proclaimed goals of diversity).
Herbert E. Kook Jr.
First or Fast?
To the Editor:
In an article in the Flyer (City Reporter, January 23rd issue), new WPTY news director Jim Turpin is quoted as follows: "We would rather be second to do a story and have it right than be first and get it wrong. A lot of times when breaking news reports go out in the city, they're wrong at first, and I think that's a sin. I think it has to stop and we're going to be part of the solution."
When breaking news reports first come out, if they're wrong, it's not necessarily because of shoddy reporting or failure to seek out correct information. It is because authorities do not often have a complete picture at the beginning of an incident. Is it better to give information from police sources immediately or wait until the story is sorted out and the breaking news event is wrapped up?
The public knows that in a breaking news situation, details and complete information are sketchy. But they also expect that news agencies will give them whatever information they have at the time and will provide a more comprehensive look at an incident as the investigation continues.
I guess claiming to want to wait for the whole story before telling any part of it gives WPTY a hall pass to be late to breaking news.
Elizabeth Berman (formerly of WMC)
KING 5 TV
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