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Author Takes On NY Times, Asian On Black Crime

OAKLAND, CA - Ishmael Reed, the novelist, poet and media critic, is criticizing the Bay Citizen, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, "public media organization" that since June has been providing local news content to the New York Times for its weekend Bay Area pages.

"You'd think that with its classy reputation that The New York Times would be different from the trashy representation of Oakland favored by the local press, whose marketing strategy seems to be that of coddling and entertaining its targeted sales demographic by embarrassing blacks," Reed wrote on his sfgate.com blog. As an example, he cited a new farmers market that has gone uncovered by the Bay Citizen. "The only food stores available to me and my neighbors are liquor stores disguised as grocery stores.There is an important urban farming movement happening in Oakland," Reed wrote.

Jonathan Weber, editor of the Bay Citizen, replied, "We report news. A nice farmers market is not news. With all due respect your criticism comes off as the standard type of complaining . . . journalists always hear when they don't report on things the way a particular interested party would like them to. The perception that there is a lot of crime in Oakland is a function of the fact that there is a lot of crime in Oakland. Sorry, but we did not create that fact. And we certainly report lots of news out of Oakland that has nothing to do with crime. If you want to critique The Bay Citizen that's great but please save your stereotypes."

In a subsequent post, Reed replied to bloggers who criticized him on racial grounds. "I'm a bigot for pointing out that some Asian American criminals operate in Oakland's black neighborhoods?" Reed wrote. "The leader of a gang that terrorized my neighborhood for four years was a Vietnamese kid whose activities not only erupted occasionally into gunfire, but he went about calling black middle class women, members of our Neigborhood Crime Watch, by the B word. He was murdered around the corner last year. Do some Asian American criminals bring drugs onto our block? Yes. Do I cast collective blame on the entire Asian American community, 38 culturally distinct groups, for the actions of a few as Oakland's black American community was blamed for the actions of four blacks, who have been accused of assaulting Chinese Americans, ACTIONS THAT I CONDEMNED IN PRINT!! No! . . . "


The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education | 663 Thirteenth St., Suite 200, Oakland, CA 94612



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