A Chicago television station is under fire for taking the comments of a four-year-old boy out of context, and in the process furthering negative stereotypes about blacks.
According to a report in the New York Daily News, WBBM-TV was covering a shooting on June 29 when a freelance photographer interviewed the little boy.
This is the exchange that aired:
Boy: "I'm not scared of nothing."
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Photographer: "When you get older are you going to stay away from all these guns?"
Photographer: "No? What are you going to do when you get older?"
Boy: "I'm going to have me a gun!"
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The anchors back in the studio responded with horror. The problem was, the interview continued. This is the part that did not air:
Photographer: "You are? Why do you want to do that?"
Boy: "I'm going to be the police!"
The Maynard Institute for Journalism somehow found out about it and criticized the station. Dori J. Maynard, President of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, said in an article published by the institute:
"Airing a video of the boy saying he wanted a gun that edits out the context simply reinforces stereotypes that African American males are violent, even preschoolers."
After other journalism groups and the NAACP joined the chorus of criticism, WBBM vice president and news director Jeff Kiernan apologized in an email to Poynter.org.
"We accept responsibility for the mistakes that were made, both in the reporting and editing of the story. The video of the child should not have aired. As soon as news management identified the problem, they took immediate steps to ensure that the video would not air in subsequent newscasts. In addition, we have followed up with our employees to make sure that we all have learned from the mistakes that were made."