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Huckleberries Online

Thu., Jan. 25, 2007, 2:32 p.m.

Fan E-Mail: Black Firefighter Story Bombs

Original story along with comments here

Just thought I'd let you know that the black firefighter story has reached our newsroom. And I wasn't the one who brought it up, either. Mainly it seems that what people are discussing isn't the fact that it's a stupid story (why does it matter if he's black? some on the press thread ask) but that the coverage was sort of poor. The story is a big deal, for obvious reasons. There still are very few minorities - especially blacks - in North Idaho. The story didn't address it. It didn't even mention why it mattered that there was a black firefighter at the fire department now. It didn't look into how many other minorities work for the city of Coeur d'Alene. The reporter didn't even speak with the firefighter about the issue. He didn't ask him how he heard about the job or why he came here. Didn't ask him if he was concerned about racism in the area or if he thought he might be mistreated by some members of the community.

Racism is still alive in North Idaho. It may not be prevalent, but it's there. Some there see it when they drive by that billboard in ... Post Falls is it? It can't be ignored, and for people to clamor on about why it is a big deal that there is a black man in the Coeur d'Alene Fire Department is a travesty. They're ignoring the problem. Good journalism would point that problem out and explain it. Try to get at the problem - and have people in the community discussing it. That's the real reason why this was a bad story.

Sam The Reporter/Vandal Sense

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D.F. Oliveria started Huckleberries Online on Feb. 16, 2004. Oliveria's Sunday print Huckleberries is a past winner of the national Herb Caen Memorial Column contest.