Elliott Plack (CC BY 2.0)

Media coverage of the protests in Baltimore over the last couple of days has consisted of predictable rhetoric from the usual Murdoch-endorsed suspects, focusing on “roving gangs” and their “looting” and “attacks on reporters.”

But it appears that the venerable New York Times hasn’t been doing its best to provide the whole picture, either.

As media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) tells us:

For readers who turned to today’s New York Times site (4/28/15) for news of the ongoing Baltimore protests following the death in police custody of Freddie Gray, they found a terrifying tale of rioters throwing cinder blocks at firefighters trying to put out arson fires, as the city was beset by people with “no regard for life.”

Whose tale was it, though? Here’s the first six citations from the Times story: • “police said” • “police said” • “police also reported” • “police said” • “state and city officials said” • “police acknowledged”

Not until the 12th paragraph does the paper get around to quoting someone who isn’t a police or government official. (UPDATE: At shortly after noon, the Times edited its story to include a quote near the top from a local resident cleaning up after the night’s violence. It still included no quotes from demonstrators or anyone else actually on the scene last night. The original story lives on at other sites via the New York Times News Service.)

The Times, according to FAIR,

… has stuck mainly with government sources, even for a story that cries out for original reporting to cut through the official line. The front-page story in today’s print edition (4/28/15), which mostly focused on yesterday’s establishment of a curfew and calling out of the National Guard, cited, in order, Baltimore’s mayor, the Maryland governor, Baltimore’s police commissioner, “the police” (cited as the source of a “credible threat” that gangs were plotting to “‘take out’ law enforcement officers”) and a police captain–all before citing the pastor at Gray’s funeral as appealing for calm.

–Posted by Roisin Davis


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