Patterico's Pontifications

5/1/2011

How the L.A. Times Slants Crime News

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:28 pm

Another reminder of how the L.A. Times distorts the news.

The story is simple. Woman babysits a newborn baby and physically abuses the child. She fractures the child’s skull, and breaks his ribs and legs. The broken bones have healed but the child still has damage to his optic nerve. The defendant is convicted and sentenced to six years in state prison. State law says she must serve 85% of that time, but prison officials mess up the paperwork and make her serve only 50%. The mistake is discovered after she is released. Although she is now pregnant, holding down two jobs, and has not had problems on parole, she is rearrested and sent back to prison to serve the balance of her term.

I just told the story that I read in the paper, in a fairly straightforward and balanced fashion. That’s one way to tell the story. Not very dramatic or exciting — perhaps because it’s not, really.

There is another way you could tell it, of course. Include a headline about the baby’s injuries; show a picture of the injured child with his parents, together with a caption about their anger at the woman’s early release — why, you could even stick in a snide comment, perhaps couched in a quote from the victim’s family — about the sort of discipline her own child will face.

Or, you could spin everything the other way, to make her seem like a victim.

How do you think the L.A. Times portrays the story? You already know the answer:

Editors know most people will only see the headline and the picture, and maybe read the caption. Hey, all the other stuff is in there, they would defensively insist if you called them on it. They would maintain their story is balanced and fair.

And it’s true, all the facts are seemingly there. But the way it is presented — the headline, choice of photo, and recounting of the tale from her point of view — is designed for drama and sympathy. You have to read the whole thing to get the full picture. You have to get to the seventh paragraph to learn about the fractured skull; the 20th paragraph to learn about the broken legs and ribs; and the 21st paragraph to learn about the child’s continuing problems with his optic nerve. But the fact that the woman is pregnant and a “model parolee” is helpfully crammed into the first two paragraphs.

Much more dramatic that way, you see.

Those few readers who make their way through the whole story will feel that they have been misled regarding the alleged unfairness of the system’s actions. But how many such readers actually bother?

It would be infuriating . . . if this sort of pro-defendant media slant had not occurred so many times before.

Disclaimer: I personally know Oscar Plascencia, the prosecutor quoted in the article. He and I have not spoken about the story or the case.

31 Responses to “How the L.A. Times Slants Crime News”

  1. in a just world she would have had a 22 Short Cerebral Hemorrhage shortly after her conviction and expiration of all appeals.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  2. Articles like this one are why the public holds media in such poor regard. This is an example of journalism as advocate. Who is the bad guy here, some prison functionary who hit the wrong button on a calculator? If the grocery clerk gives you too much change, the right thing to do is to give back what doesn’t belong to you.

    This babybeater is not a victim.

    TimesDisliker (a76820)

  3. Prisoners are heroes on Planet LATimes.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (28546f)

  4. Bin Laden found? Obama to speak.

    angeleno (2ffd38)

  5. you’re not supposed to hit

    happyfeet (760ba3)

  6. Multiple sources report Bin Laden is dead.

    Well done, CIA.

    Well done, President Obama.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  7. Trump is not going to be pleased.

    JD (318f81)

  8. Screw you. IMP.

    JD (318f81)

  9. “I’ve never come across a situation like this,” he said. “It is an inhuman response to a woman with a high-risk pregnancy.”

    This was a comment from her lawyer. What about the inhuman response she showed to injure that child the way she did. I can’t believe she will be allowed to keep her current child and a new one.

    But the LA Times is just doing what they do best.

    PatAZ (81cf34)

  10. Congrats to the people that actually had something to do with this. Good job. Well done.

    JD (318f81)

  11. he’s been dead for many moons I think

    happyfeet (760ba3)

  12. I think I will start the deather movement anyone want to volunteer to bring cookies to the first meeting?

    happyfeet (760ba3)

  13. “Bin Laden dead, supposedly.”

    He had Obama’s birth certificate, which explains the delays.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  14. And what incompetent functionary in the Bureau of Corrections will be terminated for his/her Grossness?
    Answer:
    No one; they’ll probably get a promotion and a raise. If they’re anything like the Orange County social worker mentioned in Steven Greenhut’s column in today’s OCRegister, they’ll be put in charge of training new personnel, even though they were succssfully sued for misconduct with a verdict of $5MM+.
    And they wonder why we resent them!

    AD-RtR/OS! (4eede7)

  15. Sarah Palin got bin Laden is what I heard.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  16. Osama’s been dead for an awfully long time. There’s a reason we haven’t seen him on video.

    Bush is the reason Osama was shut down, and Al Qaida splintered. It was his policies that made it so.

    I do credit Obama for following Bush’s lead on these policies, but I resent that Obama campaigned against them. Either way, it’s good for the USA if Osama bin laden’s likely years dead body has been discovered. I hope the democrats aren’t too ghoulish in trying to score points, but we all know what to expect.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  17. with bin laden out of the way the US will stand VICTORIOUS!!

    ha HAH!!

    Smart Powah! Smart Powah! Do the cabbage patch do the cabbage patch.

    Mommy if bin laden is dead why come gas is $4 a gallon.

    Shhhhh timmy the president is about to speak.

    happyfeet (760ba3)

  18. The global war on terror is now over.

    JD (318f81)

  19. Mishandled. The announcement that the the pres would speak came before 9:30 central. In the ensuing 30 min. all the network talking heads have made the announcement about Bin Laden and are discussing. The pres should have given the speech before releasing the info. As usual, O blows his moment.

    elissa (459bad)

  20. I have opened a Bin Laden thread so Bin Laden comments should now be left there.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  21. Seriously, it’s been a long time coming and I’m glad the bastard is dead and I don’t think I will go to hell for thinking so.

    Ag80 (6134b7)

  22. Patterico, this reminds me–did you do a 2010 wrap up on the LA Times? Did I miss it?

    Arizona Bob (aa856e)

  23. Why does the L.A. Times have a pro-criminal slant?

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  24. They are not criminals; they are the sociologically disadvantaged victims of the oppressive trickle-down economy that the Rethuglicans imposed on us.

    The real criminals are the Wall Street fat cats and evil billionaires like the Kochtopus and Christofascist exploiters of law-abiding undocumented immigrants who toil in sweatshops to make Bushitler happy.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (28546f)

  25. “So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view.”

    Gesundheit (aab7c6)

  26. #24, ME asked, “Why does the L.A. Times have a pro-criminal slant?”

    For the same reason that Leftist judges let criminals off the hook. The more upset and discord introduced into society, the quicker a majority of the population concludes the system is broken and can’t protect them.

    Which makes them more likely to accept a Socialist/Communist solution to the problem of keeping order. It’s an easy sell, give up your freedom and liberty, and the benevolent commissars will deal with the murderers and crooks.

    ropelight (2a3aae)

  27. I only sincerely hope that this woman’s soon to be born child will be taken from her and all parental rights revoked so that the child can be adopted immediately and never know his mother is a worthless sack of fecal matter.

    Rorschach (c5574d)

  28. Gotta’ agree with you here. Baby-beaters should serve their entire terms. Newspapers should stick to the facts.

    Joel MaHarry (d2d442)

  29. Joel do you love chicken abuse?

    DohBiden (15aa57)


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