Rioting in Wauwatosa, WI wasn’t exactly on anyone’s radar last week. I mean, Wauwatosa probably wasn’t on many people’s radar in and of itself, much less the idea of rioting there.
Yet, it happened. Stores and businesses were destroyed, apparently hours after peaceful protesting had already ended.
However, this happened at an odd time for journalism.
See, in the world of journalism, the accepted standards for how things are handled come from the Associated Press Stylebook. They tell us how we should abbreviate things, what terms to use when, at what point you capitalize someone’s job or title, things like that.
Over the weekend, the AP decided to issue some guidance on just how to report on riots.
The New York Post had less than flattering things to say about the guidance.
America’s most influential media stylebook is discouraging the nation’s newspapers from reporting on mass urban violence, on the grounds that writing about what’s happening is “stigmatizing.”
That’s right: The Associated Press Stylebook, whose standards are followed by countless outlets, last week announced new guidelines around reporting on riots.
After a “D’oh” definition of “riot,” the guidance preached: “Focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial justice, going back to the urban uprisings of the 1960s.”
AP suggests replacing “riots” with “milder” terms such as “unrest.” Give us a break.
This, of course, went over like a fart in church on Sunday morning with a lot of people.
Bearing Arms editor Cam Edwards had a great alternative that we may want to consider, however.
How about “lootenanny”, @APStylebook? https://t.co/A6mL1nIP1b
— Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) October 1, 2020
Sounds like a plan to me.
Unfortunately, a quick look at the headlines suggests that many media outlets have adopted the guidance quite readily. That’s bad, in part because it shows that the AP’s attempt to redefine riots is working.
Of course, this is also why millions of Americans no longer trust the media.
See, this is about trying to reshape the narrative, to reframe what actually transpires in a way that those who only get their news from the mainstream media will get a distorted image of events.
The reasons why people burn down entire neighborhoods are irrelevant. It doesn’t really matter anymore. Sure, there’s some curiosity as to what people are angry about, but no one really cares all that much once rocks are being thrown and buildings are destroyed. At that point, it all becomes irrelevant.
Yet the AP wants that to be played up first and foremost, as if the destruction is a mere afterthought that should hardly be mentioned.
Wauwatosa is merely the first example of that. A black officer shoots a black man and, of course, it’s not just racial but grounds for trying to burn the city to the ground. It absolutely baffles my mind, but then we have the new AP guidance telling journalists not to call the riot a riot.
It is what it is, though, and anyone with a brain can see it for themselves.