I haven't written anything about the tragic Nizzel George murder until now, because there hasn't been an opportunity until now for this blog to fulfill its usual role.
Consider: Usually, after yet another North Minneapolis murder, this blog digs up information about the criminal backgrounds of the victim's family and, in the case of an adult, the victim himself. This happens as quickly as it can reasonably be done, as soon as names are available, to have the maximum impact on public discourse.
That wasn't necessary this time around. The mainstream media did what this blog usually does. Take, for example, the coverage of...
...the Pioneer Press, in an article titled "North Minneapolis: Slain boy's parents, grandmother have had run-ins with the law." Click here for that article.
Straight out of the Johnny Northside playbook.
What's another play in my book? Hmmm, let's see. How about finding the Facebook page of the victim, or the victim's family, grabbing some of the photos ("First Amendment Fair Comment and Criticism," ANYBODY can do it) and writing about their oh-so-public portrayal of themselves in social media?
Yup, the media did that, too. Check out this article from City Pages, click here, which not only uses Facebook photos but digs even DEEPER into the criminal background of Cornelius George, the father of Nizzel George.
Another Johnny Northside play...well, it's really more like a minor thing I do very consistently...is to call out atrocious grammar and spelling in "thug communications." I can summarize why I do that in two sentences: good communication is a foundation of civilization. People who write in an "I don't give a damn" way should be called out, just like litterbugs and people who beat their children in the aisles of Walmart, even if there are bigger problems in the world; like wannabe gangsters who shoot into houses.
As far as calling out bad writing, the mainstream media did this, too. The Pioneer Press article referenced above called out Cornelius George's use of the word "gentlemen" (plural) to describe himself.
Why is the mainstream media doing the kind of stuff this blog has been doing for a couple years, and I take a lot of heat for doing it? Maybe it's the level of outrage over the age and innocence of this victim, six months to the day after the other unsolved "shots fired into a house" child killing. Maybe it's because, collectively, they're starting to figure out they're not playing their role effectively and not having an impact on children dying in North Minneapolis.
And, for the record, though it hardly needs to be said: Nizzel George was an angel, an innocent, somebody who had little to no control over his own fate and was totally dependent on the adults in his life, who spectacularly failed him. How, specifically, they failed him is not entirely clear, but the fact there was a failure seems obvious.
In regard to what the mainstream media is doing in the wake of this senseless murder, ripping up their own playbook and doing stuff that seems stolen straight from the pages of Johnny Northside:
I'm glad they're doing it. It's not like I don't have other stories to write, other pieces of info to dig up. Sooner or later, the mainstream media will neglect an aspect of this story and this blog will jump on it, or I'll develop my own angle. And if this blog is somehow INFLUENCING the mainstream media to act in a particular way in the wake of Northside murders, I'd consider that a victory. Frankly, there's more of an impact when major media use these tactics rather than a blog with a more limited audience.
However, there's a lot of other stuff the mainstream media SHOULD be doing, and stuff they should STOP doing, in the wake of incidents like this. And, obviously, I'm going to list those things and discuss them, as follows.
* PRINT THE NAMES OF INDIVIDUALS THE POLICE ARE SEEKING TO QUESTION OR ARREST IN MURDER INVESTIGATIONS. Jaylin Dubose is wanted for questioning in the murder of Parrish Gray but the Star Tribune has not published his name, by which I mean notorious journalistic meathead Matt McKinney of the Star Tribune.
* PRINT THE SPECIFIC ADDRESSES WHERE INCIDENTS TAKE PLACE. If there is (allegedly) a shooting feud taking place between two houses, the public is entitled to know the specifics, not just the block numbers. Furthermore, people who live on that particular block who aren't involved in the shooting feud shouldn't be painted with the same "block number" brush, unless it's an article specifically about the atmosphere of the block.
* QUIT AIRBRUSHING THE WARTS OUT OF THE TRUTH. We have read so many articles about adult shooting victims who were allegedly "just starting to turn (their) life around" that some of us Northsiders engage in dark humor about the topic. A recent article about the block where Nizzel lived described it as having "tidy" little houses.
Uh huh. Is that like the a blind date with a girl who has a "great personality?" I have been on the city's property website and scrutinized ownership information about every one of those houses on the 4500 block of Bryant, and I also live 19 blocks down the street. While this block is not as rough as some (no known and notorious slumlords own houses on that block) I see evidence of foreclosures and at least one vacant house. So how "tidy" are those yards right now, at the end of June? How tall is the grass?
And why is the mainstream media so intent upon doing this "airbrushing" and using these euphemisms? Are they so afraid of criticism for offending? Truth speaks for itself, no matter how harshly criticized. We don't need the media to be POLITE. We need the opposite. We need unvarnished truth.
* IF IT BLEEDS IT LEADS, BUT IF IT JUST GOES BANG, WHO GIVES A DANG? The media hordes showed up when a child died from bullets fired into a house. Where were they earlier when ANOTHER house was reportedly hit with bullets, quite probably part of the (reported) ongoing feud? When people are merely WOUNDED by gunfire, it merits little to no coverage.
But I'd venture to say that if somebody's house got shot up in Edina, the media would be right there reporting it, even if nobody was killed, and even if the house belonged to nobody prominent.
Mainstream media coverage of North Minneapolis issues can be summarized as "sensational, with little follow up, and a periodic smattering of positive stories to salve their conscience." This blog and its more than 3,000 postings exists mostly as a "gap filler" because the mainstream media falls short in serving my neighborhood. It's an uncompensated, volunteer effort. Though I am proud of that effort, and the effort of other Nomi social media, volunteer efforts falls way short of "mainstream media giving my neighborhood its full, fair share of coverage."
Some examples of this "media gap" are as follows.
* The police have been cracking down on guns and drugs, a fact reported by the mainstream media with follow up from this blog. But how about mainstream media coverage of who are the fools with the guns? This blog tries--take for example my "Watchful Weekend" coverage--but scouring the jail roster and courts data, then using stock photos of, like, COP CARS isn't the kind of prominent, high-grade media coverage the issue deserves.
* The watershed JACC trial, which may have an opinion issued TOMORROW by the State Appellate Court. The disciplinary proceedings against Jill Clark, "counsel for Crazytown" whose distortion of North Minneapolis politics is undeniable. And what about follow up coverage on numerous unsolved murders, including Annshalike Hamilton, DeCari Antonio Starr, and others? Annshalike's mother has been willing to speak to this blogger at length about who she suspects murdered her daughter and exactly why she thinks that. Shouldn't her voice be heard in a much bigger media forum?
* More slumlord coverage. More coverage of the fascinating civil suit spawned by the mortgage fraud at 1564 Hillside Ave. N. When Maxwell was going to prison, the media was ALL OVER THIS STORY. When the inevitable civil suit happens, they are nowhere to be found. The numerous identities of the "Imposter Foster" alone was a great story. And how about more coverage of victims-in-the-making, young people who are rapidly building up criminal records and proclaiming their choice to live "thug life" to the whole world, via Facebook profiles?
In summary, Johnny Northside says: Don't just rip me off once or twice. Rip me off completely. Steal my entire playbook and follow it. Believe me, I'll still find something to do. There's always more stories to tell than can be told, and always neglected pieces of stories in the mainstream media that I can snap up like a hungry little fish following a school of sharks, looking for scraps.
But these child victims like Nizzel George deserve more focused, more truthful, more emphatic and prolonged media coverage. Recently, media covered yet another RALLY. Oh, that's great. Young men getting arrested every day for weapons, and you're covering people marching around with signs, exercising their First Amendment right to "petition the gun toting thugs for redress of grievances."
The media can do better. They MUST do better. America is not a third world country where certain kinds of truth dare not be spoken. Tell the story. Speak the truth. And trust that the truth will set us free.