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FBLA EXCLUSIVE: Behind the Halloween Hate Crime Story


The LA Weekly has a story on Long Beach Halloween hate crime case that started here in FBLA. Briefly, on Halloween night, in Long Beach, 3 white women were involved in a street brawl with some 30 black teenagers. The women all had serious injuries and 8 of the teens were charged with committing a hate crime.

After getting an nod to write about media coverage of the case, FBLA went a little wild on the research, and the Weekly’s editors had to slog through some 4,000 words. So, if you want to know even more, here’s some stuff that got chopped.

David Mills and several others had remarked that if the situation was reversed and the assailants white teens, the national media would have jumped on this. By way of contrast, earlier in the year, the NY Times ran a Page 1 story before arrests were even made in the Duke rape case, as did ESPN and AP. ABC news, MSNBC, USA Today, and the NY Daily News all reported on the Duke case within days of the first charges being filed. In fact, Jack Shafer, writing in Slate, complained of over-coverage by the NY Times, where 20 stories ran in the space of one month. When Shafer was contacted for this story, he confessed he knew about the story only because Mills had sent him his letter.

FBLA did try to get LA Times reporters and editors to go on the record. While Joe Mozingo is charming, funny and smart, he didn’t want to get in trouble. So, while Managing Editor Doug Frantz didn’t want to talk either, he did write that

The editors recognized the Long Beach incident as an important local story and we’ve tried to cover it with that in mind. It’s fair to see the coverage as part of the newspaper’s determination to cover as many significant stories and issues as possible in our home region.

Considering that the new publisher, David Hiller, had promised in mid-October to re-engage the reader and do more local coverage (and was told to “Go out in street, see news, write it up.” in a letter to Poynter), what editor would want to pass up a juicy criminal case complete with the opportunity for socially-redeeming nuances? They stayed away in droves.

The case is well worth following–read Tracy Manzer in the Press-Telegram and Mozingo in the LA Times and you can see why FBLA got so caught up.

David Mills Tells LA Times to Shape Up on Halloween Hate Crime Coverage–Tells FBLA Why

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