The Jena 6 and the Media

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Eugene Robinson's Sept. 21 op-ed, "Drive Time for the Jena 6," rightly concluded that black radio played a critical role in bringing to light what happened in Jena, La. These radio hosts are to be commended. But I worry that as the media grow ever more consolidated, they are doing less and less to serve people of color.

Last week in Chicago, I heard passionate testimony during an eight-hour Federal Communications Commission hearing on minority media ownership. Many people of color are tired of big media ignoring their concerns, distorting their contributions to society and caricaturing them as individuals. One reason is the lack of minority media ownership. A Free Press study says that while racial and ethnic minorities are more than 30 percent of the U.S. population, they own just 3.26 percent of all commercial broadcast television stations and 7.7 percent of full-power radio stations. This is a national disgrace.

Before the FCC again heads down the dangerous road of permitting huge media conglomerates to grow even bigger -- something it's looking at right now -- it should act on proposals to increase minority ownership.



Federal Communications Commission



Recent op-eds by Amina Luqman ["Jim Crow Comes for Our Kids," Sept. 21] and Colbert I. King ["Three Wrongs to Right," Sept. 22] played down the events in Jena as a mere "schoolyard fight."

Two teenagers getting into a scuffle is a fight. Six teenagers jumping one other youth and beating him until he is unconscious is no fight -- it's a brutal attack in which the victim had no hope of defending himself.

What message do we send to our teenagers when national figures and newspapers excuse this behavior? What message does it send when activists rally around the perpetrators rather than the victims of a crime?

No doubt Jena has racial tensions that need to be addressed. But excusing racially motivated violence will not address those tensions. Have we learned nothing from our national history of hate crimes?


Centreville, Va.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company