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News & Press: NABJ News

The Truths that President Trump Must Consider: From Racism to Baltimore

Wednesday, July 31, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kanya Stewart
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Seventy-two years ago, a commission on "A Free and Responsible Press," that was created by Henry Luce – a man David Halberstam once branded "the most powerful conservative publisher in America" – reached a conclusion about journalism that resonates today.

"It is no longer enough to report the fact truthfully," Luce's commission said. "It is now necessary to report the truth about the fact."

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) supports the journalistic principle of reporting the truth, undeniably. 

Due to the ability of social media to reach the masses quickly, NABJ encourages truthful communications in the digital media space. Therefore, NABJ is deeply concerned about President Donald Trump's most recent Twitter tirade against Baltimore, a city that is 63 percent black. His reporting on social media requires some truth-telling.

The fact is that Baltimore, like many of America's urban centers, is struggling with the ravages of a high concentration of poor people and the crime it spawns. However, the truth is that President Trump dishonors the principle of reporting the truth when he states that Baltimore is a place where "no human being would want to live." To NABJ’s understanding, there has been no data produced that indicates that President Trump’s Administration has surveyed all human beings on their preferences.

So, here is the truth that President Trump must consider: With eight higher education institutions (including Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Law School), Baltimore is a college town and a major center of medicine and medical research.

The fact is that Trump called Baltimore a "disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess." The truth is that while no U.S. president should denigrate an American city in this way, many cities in the U.S. have rodent populations, including our nation’s capital. Does President Trump have data to offer that rodents are only attracted to a certain community?

We state this not to demean the President or American cities but to underscore that like his verbal attacks on black women journalists, of which NABJ called for the President to cease in November 2018, it is important for him and his administration to understand that untruths and verbal assaults not only hurt people, but it dishonors our country, its citizens and even the legacy of White House.

While NABJ hopes that President Trump’s hurtful words about the city of Baltimore were not inspired by the fact that the community is predominantly black, NABJ encourages the President and his team to consider that his words and other recent comments toward people of color, including most recently our leaders in Congress, in fact, can be and have been taken as a form of racism.

As the largest organization in the U.S. for journalists of color, NABJ does not condone the use of social media or any other medium to promote untruths and racist comments about black people, people of color, and all people for that matter.

NABJ continues to monitor fair and accurate coverage of black communities. NABJ contributed to the Associated Press Stylebook updates last year and the many conversations on race and ethnicity, impacting AP Stylebook updates in May 2019, which included the use of the terms racist and racism. NABJ encourages the media and others to defer to those definitions of the words "racist" and "racism" in reporting on the ongoing debate surrounding the issues reported in this statement and beyond. 

Read President Sarah Glover’s statement here.

Read past NABJ statements:

NABJ makes significant contributions to 2018 AP Stylebook entries

NABJ appalled by Trump's disrespect of black female journalists

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