Something tells me the picture of Sharon Jasper sitting next to her widescreen TV on page A-14 of today’s Times-Picayune will not advance the cause of public housing.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007 at 9:14 am by Editor B and is filed under Briefly, New Orleans, News & Media, Politix. Tags: Public Housing, sharon jasper, Times-Picayune, widescreen tv.
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Yeah, I thought the same thing. What’s up with that? The T-P sure is being rather heavyhanded with their coverage.
The T-P is out-and-out biased in favor of demolition, and their coverage reflects it. Advocacy, from the top down, from selective reporting to strategic photography. Advocacy in place of news.
While I agree that the T-P may be biased (as any entrenched, politically-minded mainstream media is), does the fact that there appears to be a widescreen tv in Ms. Jasper’s apartment not speak toward an inherent problem in the creation of that apartment and the priorities placed upon the furnishing of it? I believe Editor B’s point is not about the picture, but about the TV. That it got photographed is beside the point…it was still there.
I’m all for folks getting a few creature comforts, but I don’t believe widescreen tv and the cable hookup that goes with it (I’m assuming) are a human right. The question shouldn’t be about Ms. Jasper or the T-P’s decision to run a provocative photo, but about why such an un-needed device was deemed appropriate for installation in any public housing.
The irony I see in that photo is the placement of the caption accompanying it…she’s quoted as saying “it’s pitiful what people give you.” Damn, I wish someone would give me a tv like that…a listing in the want ads could net me at a month’s rent. But I’m sure that was a misquote or taken out of context.
If you didn’t see the quote I posted by Consumer’s Union representative Gene Kimmelman on the move by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to allow newspaper owners to grab television and radio stations (it passed):
at key points in time, near elections, or when a city council vote is up, when you want to find whether the garbage men are corrupt in your town, there could be influence there has been the voice, the point of view of the owner, inserted.
I’ve been largely misinterpreted by a number of critics who are incensed that I would even ask that Coleman Warner either confirm or challenge the stereotype presented by that image. That he didn’t might certainly be construed as intended bias. It’s certainly sloppy reporting, given the reaction — it seems apparent to everyone else that the television confirms an stereotype which many people who care about good public policy to help those in need wouldn’t like to have to defend.
The range of voices, of meaningful and civil conversations, has been abysmally lacking in the public housing controversy. It won’t be resolved, even though decisions be made, without a reasonable airing of everyone’s concerns. And the same mistakes of the past may simply be repeated by a federal agency, HUD, which has a long record of unresponsive, poor management (certainly the actions of the current HUD director merit scrutiny). Progress isn’t just about putting up new buildings. It’s about altering the set of policies which create incentives and opportunities for those who are able, and security for those who aren’t.
Jasper’s a kook and an opportunist, no doubt. She’s been around for a while, and make no mistake, it’s not a coincidence that the T-P asked to follow her home. I bet their eyes lit up when they saw her being used as an example of a public housing victim by the anti-demolition folks.
And yet, why didn’t the T-P follow home Robert Green, the “needy” dude getting a pink house from Brad Pitt? He’s not just a scam artist, he’s a scam artist with a felony fraud record, and the T-P knows that, too. But because it didn’t suit their purposes to expose him, he got a pass.
There are a number of these characters like Jasper and Green who are very adept at being in the right place, right time with the right story; that’s part of the hustle, and part of New Orleans. What’s telling is when it does or doesn’t get reported, and why.
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