Thursday, November 1, 2007

About time: Some attention to Zebra killings

At last the series of racial slayings in San Francisco known as "the Zebra murders" is getting the media attention it deserved. No animals were harmed during the murders of at least 14 people who were killed simply because of their race. If real zebras had been the victims animal rights organizations would have made sure the story never died. The street killings in the 1970s might as well have never happened for all the attention that was paid by the press in the decades that followed. Now, big names will guarantee that the horrific racial crime gets the spotlight. Former San Francisco police Chief Earl Sanders has written a book, "The Zebra Murders," and a movie is in the works that will star Jamie Foxx.
I hope the movie is called "Resurrection," because that is what is involved here. Fairness is being raised from the dead. If ever there was a double-standard in reporting, it was this case. All the victims were white and the perps black. It's hard not to wonder what the coverage in the ensuing years would have been if the reverse were true. Another reason to regard the press as just another interest group. Read all about it in "Philip's Code: No News is Good News - to a Killer."
I doubt that today reporters and editors could get away with such ineptness. The Internet, particularly now when there are papers with "comment" postings, would catch on and bark at the watchdog - as my book forecasts. I hope postings under reviews of Sanders' book and movie point to past neglect. The Internet can help journalism by making journalists accountable
I wonder if postings are paying off on other fronts. The AP series on school sex abuse is a case in point. (See that blog entry.) I had an eerie feeling recently when Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown brought in state help to fight crime in East Palo Alto. Did he read my book, in which similar action by Gov. Pete Wilson got little attention by the media in the 1990s? Brown got good press. I hope Oakland took note - just as in "Philip's Code."