Albor Ruiz: reporting on migration and human rights
You wouldn’t know from the comments sections of these articles that NYC is a city of immigrants! If you happen to click over to one of Ruiz’s stories, I encourage you to leave a respectful comment in support of his reporting. You will probably be in the minority.
One of the nice things about the Daily News and the NY Post that I’ve come to appreciate is that their format is more in line with the direction journalism seems to be taking, a direction that recognizes that purported neutrality can sometimes stand in the way of truth rather than illuminate it. I used to open the Post occasionally, take a look at some Murdoch-sanctioned screed disguised as journalism, and flip to the celebrity pages in disgust. One flag-pin-wearing, war-loving co-worker at my old job used to tell me “The Times is a rag, I only read the Post.” (That’s the NY Post, not the WaPo.) I thought then that he was nuts.
Now my view has changed a bit. As much as I salute the tireless efforts of reporters like Nina Bernstein and Dana Priest to ferret out stories about human rights abuses of migrants in the U.S., you’ll never see Nina Bernstein write something like this (from Ruiz’s column today on the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act):
That [Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)] felt compelled to remind everyone that immigrants are human beings speaks volumes about how prejudice and demagoguery have succeeded in demonizing them and distorting the immigration debate.
The Times might print an editorial that says something similar, and has done so recently, for which I applaud the paper. But Ruiz’s reporting comes from a firm moral position that is more explicitly acknowledged than the more self-consciously objective reporting of others. This stands in stark opposition to an article like the one last week in the Chicago Tribune about this blog and others, in which the author betrayed no trace of a position on the substantive issues other than bemusement at the antics of “those crazy bloggers,” resulting in a he said/she said surface piece of limited probative value.
Every story has a slant, whether it’s openly admitted or whether you have to read between the lines to figure it out. More importantly, the choice of subject matter is often entirely based on the reporter's political opinions, but this will never be acknowledged by a mainstream reporter out of fear of the appearance of subjectivity. The Daily News and NY Post columnists are similar to bloggers in that they make little effort to conceal their opinions. As Ruiz has demonstrated, that can be very effective in shining light on injustices that might otherwise go unseen.