The NY Times is now backpedaling on their recent story that characterized Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager who was shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo. by a police officer, as “no angel”. John Eligon, a black writer,  said that Brown’s life involved alcohol, drugs and rap music. And may felt that he was victim blaming.

In response to the backlash the article received,  Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, penned another article, with an interview with Eligon.  Eligon stated that he should have used better words:

“I understand the concerns, and I get it,” Mr. Eligon said. He agreed that “no angel” was not a good choice of words and explained that they were meant to play off the opening anecdote of the article in which Mr. Brown saw an angelic vision. That anecdote “is about as positive as you can get,” Mr. Eligon said, and noted that a better way to segue into the rest of the article might have been to use a phrase like “wasn’t perfect.”

“Hindsight is 20/20. I wish I would have changed that,” he said.

Sullivan also stated that posting the article on Michael Brown’s funeral day was  a bad decision.

Read the full post here.

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  • blogdiz

    Apology not accepted you know darn well what you were doing

  • MimiLuvs

    I wonder what was the purpose of his article. What was the point? Was John Eligon bothered by the notion that Michael Brown’s parents/friends/other relatives had painted this kid in a positive light? Why was he bothered by it?

    Here’s another thing: if Michael Brown was a 6’5 white teen that had gotten into a fight, drank alcohol and smoke weed, then the narrative would’ve been different. The narrative of this “no angel” article would’ve been “Here’s a troubled kid that never received a break in his life. He has never achieve any level of mental peace…” article that would pull at the readers’ heartstrings.

  • If you have to apologize then you must have had doubt about what you were writing.

    Don’t apologize now. Be a man and stand by your writing. Even it was outrageous.

  • This fits the media pattern of villifying black victims while deifying white criminals. As point of reference, here is an excerpt from their article about the Boston bomber:

    The younger one — the one their father described as “like an angel” …a handsome teenager with a wry yearbook smile, was liked and respected by his classmates at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School”
    “’He was happy to be there, and people were happy he was there,’ Ms. Schwartz said. ‘He was accepted and very well liked.;’”
    “A talented wrestler, he was listed as a Greater Boston League Winter All-Star. ‘He was a smart kid,…’”

    source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/20/us/details-of-tsarnaev-brothers-boston-suspects-emerge.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

  • vintage3000

    Eligon probably clings to Black respectability politics like a security blanket. As if he is trying to imply if Michael never smoked weed, didn’t “scuffle with a neighbor” etc. this tragedy would not have occurred. While still reprehensible, it’s the only reason I can think of why a Black person would write this. His “I understand the concerns, I get it” to me sounds like he is still trying to separate his own blackness from this tragedy. I’ve read on other boards where even White readers blasted Eligon for this article, and now I’m wondering if he and his editor would have addressed this if it was only Black people critiquing the piece.

    What’s also maddening about all of this is the media being too chicken— to come out and say what they are thinking, to even acknowledge that they find ways to humanize even the worst white criminals yet demonize murdered Black people. It’s as if racism is so ingrained people don’t even realize they are subconsciously thinking that Black life has no value. When even so called liberal NYTimes takes this approach it underscores how insidious this has become.

    • Anthony

      @Vintage300, I agree about the respectability politics trap.