Following the funeral of Freddie Gray, Baltimore was rocked by widespread rioting and looting that forced the state of Maryland to call in the National Guard.
We’ve certainly had our fill this week of reporters being criticized, not for what they are reporting on but for what they haven’t been reporting on. Have we deserved the tongue-lashing? Absolutely!
Grandstanding does not make reporting. Pointing a camera or a microphone at a burning building while expressing bewilderment or pointing a finger at disaffected young people ‘acting the fools’ isn’t exactly illuminating stuff. It’s cheap and easy and doesn’t move the story in any direction except toward the next media event, whatever that might be.
The fact is the real story was already occurring in Baltimore before the glare of the lights and cameras shined, even before Freddie Grey’s death. The real story of Baltimore has to do with the conditions that have somehow created a community that at times and in places more resembles a third world country than a modern American city.
It’s blight and squalor brought about by a combination of both dependency and neglect that is decades in the making, yet has gone hardly noticed except for those occasional glimpses from network anchors and pundits on trains whizzing by at 200 miles an hour on their way to cover their next faux fight between empty-headed Washington politicians whose obliviousness is only exceeded by some of those who cover them.
The numbers are staggering. About 148,000 people live below the official poverty level in Baltimore. About 44 percent of students fail to get a high school diploma, despite the fact that the national graduation rate is 80 percent. And while the national unemployment rate average is 4.7 for white Americans and 10.1 percent for blacks; unemployment among Baltimore’s African Americans is at about 16 percent.
Those are the kind of metrics that don’t go unnoticed, but do go untold. Politicians and the media elites who cover them frequently find themselves painfully behind in recognizing the trends and metrics, good or bad, which are now shaping America.
For example, also untold is the story of another minority group which exemplifies the polar opposite of what too many African Americans in Baltimore are failing to achieve. There are more than 3 million Latino-owned businesses in the U.S., a number up more than 40 percent since 2007. Financial experts tell Fox News Latino that Hispanics are now starting businesses at three times the national rate, fueling the economy, empowering Hispanic families and reshaping main street USA. Never before, analysts say, has the success of America’s small businesses been so dependent on the success of Hispanics.
Many reporters, too busy covering Hispanics only through the politics of immigration, may have failed to recognize these noteworthy if not newsworthy trends, but America’s business community has not failed to recognize them. Asked about the importance of these Latino metrics, the chief marketing officers of both Wal-Mart and Toyota International said this week that “politicians and reporters” are generally behind when it comes to “the realities that are shaping America.”
Officials for both Wal-Mart and Toyota estimate that 90 percent of the growth of their companies will be dependent on Latinos, and that there’s “no going back despite what we hear from Washington’s pundits or politicians.”
So immigrants and their offspring are breaking records economically, while U.S.-born African Americans are too often lagging behind in those same metrics. It’s a problem without an easy explanation and the reasons for it are as complicated as they are plentiful.
In other words, it’s not easy to figure out, but good reporting is not supposed to be easy.