Sunday, July 1, 2012

JNS BLOG EDITORIAL: Mainstream Media Have Ripped Off The Johnny Northside Playbook, But They Haven't Gone Far Enough In The Aftermath Of Nizzel George Murder...

Stock photo, Lisa Marie Presley's swingset at Graceland, blog post by John Hoff

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 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.


Anonymous said...

First time in a long time did Johnny Northside not insult the victim! So can we say, you do have a heart? I honestly think your right on a lot of issues within the community as far as violence. I do admit that at times you can be very harsh with your verbage when you state your opinions. Everybody is always hurt & upset when someone they know gets killed but the whole time the same people know exactly what happen to the victim. No one will tell because of the "No Snitch Rule" but you love the victim, you miss the victim O.o What sense does that make? No one deserves to die by the hands of another person no matter if they where a good person or a bad person. If you all truly want the killing to stop and really want justice for your loved ones then how dare you conceal information involving the circumstances of their death? Come on now people let's get it together and grow the fuck up because this shit is getting too damn old!

Johnny Northside! said...

This shit was too damn old before I even moved to the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe the stupidity of the comments and the people who has posted them. I cannot believe that at a time when a father lost his only son that anyone would want to smear him publicly in the City Pages.
Aaron Rupar for you to go onto Cornelius George's facebook page to attack him at a time like this speaks volumes for the person you are. Everyone has a past and no one but him and the other person involved truly know what happened to bring about his current court situation. Why not post the fact that Cornelius George did what most men in his situation would not do. He stepped up to the plate the day that Nizzel was born and has been the main caregiver for Nizzel his whole life. Other's in his situation just walk away from the child Cornelius has done anything and everything he could do for his son. I have known Nizzel since the day he was born and love him very much and I can tell you this he loved his Daddy more than anyone could express the words for. He was a very smart, happy, loved child that could not and will not ever be forgotten. Any media attention should be directed at stopping this from ever happening again not slandering a father who just lost his child. Nizzel would be devastated to hear and know how bad that you have all painted his father out to be. I would love for you to find many men like Cornelius that has stepped up to the plate for his son feeding, clothing, providing and being there for his son. Nizzel's death should be the main focus and the murders who took a child that had his whole life ahead of him. He was so smart, loving, caring you couldnt not know Nizzel and not love him. How would any of you feel if your child was murdered and every negative thing about you was posted for everyone to see. Nizzel has family on his father's side that have been there for him and loved him and are grieving in a way that I cannot imagine and these comments and slurs affect them as well.His grandmother Desiree, His Uncles Robert and Lewis, His aunt Shannon and so many other family members are grieving in a way that someone not in their shoes could ever comprehend. I have read posts going low enough to state that Cornelius and Christine named him after a rapper and so on and so forth. That is a lie he was named Nizzel after his father who has had the nickname Nizz way before facebook and Snoop Dog or ever being a rapper. I just want the truth out that Cornelius was a great father to Nizzel and people should be ashamed to post things about someone that they have no idea is true or false. Nizzel's family is going through so much at this time and anyone who has any compassion for another human being should be able to see the devastation and not add to it ... R.I.P Nit Nit <3 This was never supposed to happen. He is in God's and his Grandfather R.L's arm's now...

Johnny Northside! said...

Some of those names you mentioned have criminal records that I need to get around to writing about, since the media has only focused on the IMMEDIATE family.

In regard to somebody stepping up to the plate to take care of a child. Let me explain to you how it's NORMALLY supposed to work.

A man and a woman fall in love. They get married. They have children. They take care of those children. If things don't work out and there's a divorce, they STILL take care of those children.

It isn't "stepping up to the plate" to take care of your offspring. That's just what you're supposed to do. You don't get a medal. You don't get tributes. That's what you DO.

And clearly this family failed this child. They were too busy doing their criminal shit and he was like an afterthought plopped on the green couch. And when the police want to know what's up, ya'll can't even open up your mouths and pointedly mention 4501 Camden Ave. N. and maybe explain, gee, how the FUCK did their house get shot up the night before? WHO DID THAT? WHY did they do that?

How about you give me the names of those shooters so I can dig into THEIR backgrounds instead of the brother of the father and the great uncle? I would love to dig into the backgrounds of those shooters. Give me the names. WHISPER the names.

Anonymous said...

I hardly think any mainstream media was using the "JNS playbook". For you to think they copy you is pure arrogance. The reality is that in this case the MPD (police) mentioned that there have been numerous incidents at that specific address AND that the occupants have criminal histories and some were on probation.
The PiPress did a good job of following up on that comment because there was a hole in the original story.
Providing background on the residents of that address filled in some of the blanks. The PiPres was professional and ethical in their story, and had a valid and rational reason for providing that additional information.

Clearly, what you think the mainstream media should report, and what they believe is appropriate and ethical reports are two different things.
As you have stated before, you have different ethics. That is the difference between a professional newspaper, and your blog.
The difference is between a professional journal, and tabloid trash.
But to quote Johnny Northside when he was explaining his writing style to a negative commenter, "It's a blog".

Johnny Northside! said...

So only if the police mention criminal backgrounds should the media dig into a victim's background or, in this case, a victim's family's background?

That's lame.

The vast majority of North Minneapolis shootings can and should be covered in the same way, with scrutiny of the backgrounds of participants as relates to their criminal histories. This should happen whether or not the police mention it. If there is no background like that, it should be pointed out, because it would go against what is, unfortunately, the norm.

Johnny Northside! said...

Clark Kent: Seems like the victim of that last shooting had quite the criminal background. I'm thinking of writing a follow up story mentioning this.

Jimmy Olson: Gee, whiz, Clark. The POLICE didn't mention it. Can we ethically dig into the backgrounds of people who die in shootings? I mean, the family says he was JUST STARTING TO TURN HIS LIFE AROUND.

Clark? Clark?

Huh, where did he go?

Johnny Northside! said...

Comment rejected.

Don't you have your own disgusting anti-Nomi revitalization hater blog to write upon?

Johnny Northside! said...

Comment rejected AGAIN. Would you like to go for "three time loser" status?

Johnny Northside! said...

Republishing this email conversation about this article.
Mr. Hoff--

A reader directed me to your editorial concerning media coverage of the Nizzel George case, and after reading it, I felt some response was necessary. I don't read your blog, so I can't rip it off. I didn't. I resent any implication I did. I've been a reporter for 35 years, and my work is my own and always has been.

And yes, I described the homes along the block as "tidy." They appeared to me they were. The houses I saw seemed to be kept up (on the outside, anyway) and the lawns seemed neat. I didn't notice any trash or debris. "Tidy" seemed an appropriate word, so I used it.

David Hanners
St. Paul Pioneer Press

John Hoff Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 12:31 PM
To: "Hanners, David"

Well, Mr. Hanners, I will fairly and squarely print your response as part of the discourse. I do think that "tidy" was a polite term and I find it hard to believe you weren't trying to be polite instead of
being more truthful. There is a vacant house on that block and some which appear to be foreclosures. "Tidy" little houses makes that block
sound like something it clearly wasn't, like the shooting was an aberration from the norm.

It wasn't.

I hope I've made it clear I *like* your article very much and I would even go so far as to say such (mostly) blunt coverage may have contributed to what appears a quick resolution of this case. In fact,
some of us are wishing the circumstances of the OTHER child shooting could be examined in such a blunt way.


Anonymous said...

I assume you will be participating in this to try and stop violence like this in our community? And I assume you were at Nizzel's funeral? I think this would be a much better use of your time than researching Nizzel's family and trying to find ways to blame this tragedy on them.

Johnny Northside! said...

I wasn't at Nizzel's funeral for two reasons. Number one, I was somewhere else providing wholesome educational events to my son.

Number two, I think it's best to stay away from funerals where some of the participants in the funeral might be packing firearms and become randomly pissed off.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand these "Johnny, when are you going to start helping the community" comments.

This blog helps the community!!!

Some of us would like to know what the hell goes on around here, get some explanations for this crap: all the gunplay at night, f'ing trashed up houses, gangs of kids, etc.

Johnny Northside! said...

Looks like both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune printed the name and picture of a suspect wanted for questioning by the police.

So why haven't they published the name Jaylin Dubose, named in a criminal complaint about the Parrish Gray murder?

Anonymous said...

May be just wild conjecture, but someone in the comments here mentioned a familial resemblace between this Shannon and another Shannon who was part of the attack on a girl at Valley Fair.

BTW, when is the comments widget getting fixed??!!

Anonymous said...

That green couch that he was sleeping by not on was his GRANDMOTHER'S. it's not failing him to let him spend time with her. Criminal records have nothing to do with the fact that my little cousin passed away. Your worried about the wrong things. They did fall in love & yea things did get rough after hr was born and they split up. They still took care of him and raised him. You don't even know what you're talking about half the time in ANY of your blogs lol. He didn't have to "step up to the plate" he was already living there raising him there standing there he was a great father and Nizzel was a great child. The media is doing a great job focusing on the immediate family they are grieving at this moment to this day! So what they didn't get into shooters criminal information for everyone to see. THE FAMILY know the information that you're looking for .... which you will not get :). shout out to the media for doing their job Johnny Northside you are nobody for the media to care about sorry!

- XOXO The George Family

Anonymous said...

It's a funeral you ignorant racist fuck face. Nobody was packed with firearms everyone was packed with tears, sadness, and emptiness. You honestly owe the George and Banks family an apology.

Anonymous said...

The Shannon at valley fair and the Shannon that it's an aunt to Nizzel HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH EACH OTHER. DON'T EVEN KNOW EACH OTHER.. YOU'RE DISMISSED WITH THAT TRASHY NONSENSE.

STUPID .. lol

Anonymous said...

I would LOVE to tell you about yourself Johnny Northside. You are the biggest cunt. Lol

Anonymous said...

It took the last commenters a while to find this page. Still a lot of anger.