Rosa Parks Statue Funding Approved, The Press Focuses on Online Comments

Grand Rapids Press Frontpage

Sometimes, it’s just too easy to criticize The Grand Rapids Press. Yesterday, the newspaper ran an article about negative reaction to the Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) decision to allocate $100,000 to go towards a statue of Rosa Parks. The statue is slated to be placed near Rosa Parks Circle at the corner of Monroe Avenue and Monroe Center.

Perhaps wanting to recall the debate over naming Rosa Parks Circle after the Civil Rights icon, The Grand Rapids Press titled its coverage “DDA statue gift lures monumental anger.” However, while the title implies that there is some legitimate opposition to the statue, the Press could only muster up some posts from its Mlive.com website. It writes:

“The Downtown Development Authority’s decision on Wednesday to allocate $100,000 toward a statue of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks in the park bearing her name stirred online readers — at times getting ugly.

Some of the more than 30 anonymous comments left after two stories about the project had racist undertones, while others questioned the expenditure at a time when unemployment is high and the community’s needs are great.

Others complained Parks had no direct ties to Grand Rapids.

“Nothing against Ms. Parks or her role in civil rights, but come on — this smells to high heaven of trying to be P.C. and the city just keeps playing the game. Can’t anyone just stand up for common sense?” wrote “noreaster99″ in a comment posted after the story on Mlive.com.”

It would be one thing if The Grand Rapids Press was able to cite a local politician, or someone on the DDA who was opposed to the statue–but the best it can do is mention some posts by goofballs on its website. The fact that online comments are a hotbed of racism and reactionary rhetoric is hardly news–almost any online forum associated with any of the West Michigan media sites has this. I hardly think this constitues “monumental anger”–but nice pun nevertheless.

Unfortunately, as newspapers like The Grand Rapids Press struggle to stay relevant, we are seeing a lot of this. The Press will occasionally feature quotes–always attributed to ridiculous nicknames–on various news topics. In some cases, it has even made what “happens” on its website “news.” See for example, its coverage of the “live blog” during the final episode of The Bachelor.

Can’t we just call this what it is? Laziness and an easy way to promote their online presence.

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Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org

3 thoughts on “Rosa Parks Statue Funding Approved, The Press Focuses on Online Comments”

  1. While I don’t think the GRP always pursues its articles with the finesse or professionalism expected of a metropolitan newspaper, I think your criticism of their methods is too strong here. The mainstream press as a whole is bumbling towards the digital age. Our municipalities offer far too few opportunities for citizens to react, and as the internet grows more influential, commentary in online forums should be given a closer look. After all, what are you doing reading my comment? That they’re taking comments from everyday citizens- rather than politicians- is good for democracy, even if we don’t like what those goofballs have to say. Better might be to acknowledge the bias of mlive or class issues of internet accessibility, and seek solutions to how we can expand that base. But at least we know where they’re looking: imagine what we could do if all media-mousers took an active stance on m-live and got more mainstream press for the issues we want to see broadcast!

  2. I think Erin is right about MLive. The progressive readers of this blog should be more active in the forums there, showing that a strong, intelligent, progressive voice does exist in West Michigan.

  3. Plus, I also think it is worth nothing that tons of racist nut-jobs came out of the woodwork to post about the statue, even if everybody knows that bigots are all over the place on the internetz.

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