Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Case of Bad Journalism From WCPO

The bad journalism from WCPO has two parts. On WCPO's site they have a story about an alleged act of vandalism where "anti-religious" graffiti was painted on two church buildings. So, what's the problem with that? Well, the first part of the problem is in the video portion of the story. That video report does not provide any specifics of what the graffiti stated, only the reporters claim from the Minister who the reporter stated would not tell them what the graffiti said, because the words were so "harsh". No pictures were provided of the graffiti and clean up had occurred on at least one of the structures shown on video. W therefore don't know that is was "anti-religious." We have on claim of something we don't have proof actually happened. The motivation for the vandalism may have been more directed at the actions or beliefs of this church, not against religious in general.  Most crimes are not randomly chosen. It is portrayed as "anti-religious" but this could have been a religious person who just didn't share this church's beliefs.

That does not mean it didn't happen, it just means there could be more to the story and the motivation for why someone targeted this church could have backstory that would give context. Reading their website, this would not be considered a mainline Christian church, it is what I would classify as Pentecostal, so there are possible conflicts with this Church that could be a motive for the vandalism that would not be "anti-religious." The minister went on to claim that he "sensed" this came from a random person. Why does it matter that it was a random person who he senses has no connection to his church? We don't have enough information to judge what the graffiti words stated to know if there could be a connection or reasons this church was targeted. The Church stated they did file a police report, but would not press charges if they get an apology. I sense they may have an idea who the vandal may be, so if that is the case I hope they passed that on to the police and are not using this as a means to gain attention with the media.

So, the second problem is with the online story. In the link above after the video section, there is an article that mostly rehashes the video story. There is a big addition, however, that links this action to the hate crime that occurred at Hebrew Union College where a Swastika was painted on the school's sign. If we don't know what the graffiti on West Chester church stated, how can anyone link these stories by saying both are instances of "religiously targeted graffiti?" We know one was a hate crime, we don't know if they other was, so why link them? It is a bad journalism and WCPO needs to remove that linkage from the story. They also should have reported what the police report stated, assuming it included detail of the graffiti or pictures. If they didn't get the police report prior to running the story, then they failed a third time for this story, not even confirming basic facts.

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