Virginian-Pilot defends non-reporting of Norfolk beatingCulture

The Virginian-Pilot is catching a great deal of heat for their non-reporting of a beating of two white reporters by a large group of attackers.

The story was actually first reported by a Pilot opinion columnist Michelle Washington, two weeks after the fact.

Two weeks have passed since reporters Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami – friends to me and many others at the newspaper – were attacked on a Saturday night as they drove home from a show at the Attucks Theatre. They had stopped at a red light, in a crowd of at least 100 young people walking on the sidewalk. Rostami locked her car door. Someone threw a rock at her window. Forster got out to confront the rock-thrower, and that’s when the beating began.

The Pilot’s defense is that they rarely report “simple assaults,” which is how the police categorized this. Editor Denis Finley wrote:

The attackers are black; Forster and Rostami are white. A Twitter post mentioned Trayvon Martin, fueling the opinion that we are practicing reverse racism, that if a group of white people had attacked a black couple, the incident would have been front-page news.

None of this is true.

That’s an odd defense for the Pilot, to be honest. Defending a lack of reporting of one instant by pointing out a broader lack of reporting isn’t exactly the greatest defense.

The problem is, even if it is true, I haven’t spoken to anyone who believes it.

If a black couple was assaulted by 100 white kids, the Pilot would choose to not report it?

That’s what Mr. Finley is saying. I think he’s telling the truth, but I may be the only one.

The question then becomes what does it take to become news in this town. Today’s news is Son of Sam at a prayer breakfast, Virginia’s roads don’t have enough funding, Norfolk could name a schools superintendent soon, and that a 24-year old white male in Virginia Beach was charged with an assault.

Oops. Somehow an assault by a white guy made it into the newspaper.

I don’t think the Virginian-Pilot covered up this story. It’s silly to think so. Their own reporters were the victims.

But I’ve long taken issue with what the Virginian-Pilot decides is news. This issue shines a really bright spotlight on the process of deciding what is important for print and what isn’t, a process I’ve never been a big fan of.

I don’t think the Pilot made a single-case coverup. I think they have some odd definitions overall of what is news and what isn’t.

What do you think?

  • James “turbo” Cohen
  • Nathan Miller

    I think I happily cancelled my subscription 2 hours ago.

  • James “turbo” Cohen
  • Tim J

    The VP and the Norfolk Police have another problem since this incident was given a time slot on O’Reilly’s show last night. O’Reilly took a swipe at the VP for the selective reporting of this story, and told Dave Parker (WNIS) that he was going to put Forster on tonight. I can only imagine that Forster has been given an ultimatum of not appearing on O’Reilly, or has been thorough briefed on how he should recount his story. O’Reilly has some negative history with the VP, and this cover-up isn’t going to go well for the reputation of the paper, the Norfolk Police or for Hampton Roads in general now that it has been exposed to a world-wide audience. Since the VP lost control of this story, they are responsible for urban legends springing up of Norfolk being on the front line of a racial war in the US. How many tourists are going to change their vacation plans to Hampton Roads when the perception is that whites are targets for roving bands of thugs who will beat them for no other reason other than they are honoring the memory of Trayvon? Or maybe this was just a rehearsal for a 2012 celebration patterned after the Greek Fest in Virginia Beach in 1989?

  • James “turbo” Cohen

    Any of you have sat radio? Listen to ch 44,45 or 46. Tough stuff. This is a sad state of affairs.. Any wonder what influences deteriorating attitudes in that neck of the woods?

  • Annie Jo

    Hundreds of black on white murders, rapes, brutal mob attacks and other crimes, on whites, happens all the time. Unless, it is white on black, the Liberal Media could care less. It does not fit their Racist agenda. There were racist black mob attacks all across the country, last year. One at the Wisconsin State Fair. The media, police Department and Wisconsin State government buried the story. To this day, it is near impossible, to find out, what happened to the victims. One 15 year old white boy, was knocked off his bike, and repeadedly kicked, stomped in the face and head, by laughing black young men and women. There were No Hate Crime charges. Milwaukee D.A. Kent Lovern made sure of that, even after 1 black kid admitted, to attacking them, for being white. If we were ever given a real voice, the epidemic of brutal black on white violence, can easily, with a click of a computer mouse, be proven.

  • James “turbo” Cohen

    People are afraid of being labeled a racist. Any event like this if reported truthfully of not builds tension among people predisposed to find racism in anything they can use to perpetuate their agenda.

    23 years ago we had an incident in Va Beach that was well handled in following years and the difference is that after the week was over the people left, for the most part.

    This incident in Norfolk is different though and when I read about this kind of stuff I wonder why people put up with it.. then I see who they elect to city council and it all comes into focus. I wonder what lessons they could cultivate from the Va Beach heavy metal Mayhem fest 2011? Yeah, Church Street Heavy Metal Fest.. Problem solved.

  • Joseph Blosch

    I stopped buying the paper when I heard about their coverup of the news. If they are willing to hide black on white crime for any reason, I am not willing to give them the time it takes to read their rag. Certainly, I can speak with my cash and not buy any of their papers.

  • Scott

    I don’t know if it was intentional by the VP or not, but I think it definitely highlights some of the reasons print media is failing,

    I saw this story on Facebook (reported by Dems and Repubs.) first. It truly was the catalyst for the pressure on the VP and the outrage. Print media is fighting a losing battle.

  • Gary A May

    Mr finley is afraid to offend. He is afraid of the truth. He is afaid to expose the 8000 pound elephant in the room. Mr. finley please publish the truth about crime and violence in your community and in America.

  • Tim J

    There were several segments devoted to this on O’Reilly this evening and Denis Finley, when approached by Jesse Watters, looked like an incompetent boob. It appears as though Gov. McDonnell is going to respond based on the growing ruckus that O’Reilly is kicking up and this isn’t good for any of us who live here. Apparently the two reporters are still traumatized and are being stifled since the VP lit the fuse on this powder keg.

  • William Root

    Not holding all people to the same standards is the worse kind of racism! The media, and law enforcement couldn’t possibly do more damage to Civil Rights by accepting that the perpetrators were black, and that’s the way they are!

  • richard

    Your lying and you know it!! The only reason it was not reported is because its black on white!!!! If i was one of your employees i would walk out!!!! You dont give a damn about your own people!!!! Dont upset noone by actually printing the news!!!!