Jackie Robinson West: Man Bites Dog

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The news coverage of Jackie Robinson West, well deserved for remarkable achievement, comes from white journalists more so than African-American journalists. So, let it be stated that these young men are tremendous and mature athletes. One can only hope that they all succeed in life. Perhaps even becoming professional athletes in Chicago, bringing historical and actual excitement to a sport that — to some — reminds people of watching paint dry. Yes, to use a cliché.

I am left to wonder, not that a white team would have received less coverage, but if people have stereotyped the south side of Chicago as beyond redemption due to the isolated-by-neighborhood gun violence that white journalists report on — to once more reference the fact that we seem to have fewer African-American journalists than we have white journalists. In terms of Chicago, it seems that most journalists live on the north side of Chicago, such that these young men have been stereotyped. Indeed, we are all human beings — and so, that said, I do not mean to “rain on the parade” that Mayor Rahm Emanuel created with so much necessary propriety.

Jackie Robinson West are amazing for their work ethic, modesty and perseverance of their coaching and playing. They should not astonish through the cynical and literal-minded pursuits of white journalists who — void of opinion or not — become or are racist without knowing it. I am curious to hear from African-American journalists who live and work on the south side of Chicago. They, no doubt, would acknowledge the adversity without wallowing in the same or self-same adversity.

Just as all the guns in Chicago seem to come from states commanded by Republican Governors, the news media in my city has become conservative through the urge to be liberal, relative to that particular American history of voting rights being denied — not to mention the horrifying realities of “Forty Acres and a Mule.” True, I live on what would be called the “North Side,” in that I am far from the media-clichéd and all-to-real violence of certain parts of the south side. But, why not report on thriving South Side neighborhoods like Pilsen, as much we see reports of three year old children being shot; as much as we heard about the murder of Hadiya Pendleton; as much as we hear about the violence-in-full that also seems to engulf certain parts of the west side of Chicago?

I can only ask, would only ask, that the term “newsworthy” not become or remain exclusive to death itself. “Man Bites Dog” — an old expression in journalism which means that the news must be the opposite of our societal expectations – has become absurd in the negative and not the positive. “Man Bites Dog” should not apply to the tremendous work ethic of Jackie Robinson West. Their work ethic should be considered as natural and human as anybody’s work ethic. In terms of language, adjectives of all kinds do indicate opinions. And, journalists should never use adjectives – because we should not allow them to express their opinions. Midnight Basketball was not a joke. Midnight Baseball would not be a joke, either.