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The Prism

Eye on the Media

Gannett silences reporter's proof of GM's racism

Demetrius Patterson, a business reporter for Gannett Suburban newspapers prepared a thorough investigation of entrenched and blatant racism in General Motors' "Minority Dealer Development Program." Though well documented and published in a Westchester County, NY suburban newspaper, the article was not distributed to the rest of Gannett's news services, which would include USA Today.

I heard of this scandalous story from an excellent review by Linn Washington, writing in the Triangle Tribune, a Triangle-based newspaper owned by the Consolidated Media Group, a chain owned by and oriented in part towards African Americans in our area. (CMG also owns the Winston Salem Chronicle.)

Here's a bit of Washington's review:

Patterson's detailed report documented how GM officials deliberately placed blacks in auto stores in the worst locations... all but insuring their failure.

Other items in Patterson's report included how blacks received less financial support from GM than non-minority dealers and how GM consumer credit practices discriminated against black dealers and black customers alike. Further, the report described how GM retaliated against black dealers who complained about the corporate racism... a black GM executive was beaten bloody by a white executive in the back of a car because the black man defended a black dealer against false accusations.

...all of the allegations contained in Patterson's report were attributed to a named person, and not [unnamed] "sources." Thus, News Service editors could have called people to confirm any questions they might have about Patterson's report. ("GM wrongdoings are being stifled by the media," Linn Washington, Jr., Triangle Tribune, Sunday, May 17, 1998, p. 4A.)

So far the Tribune's coverage and contributions have made me hopeful, and Washington's observations didn't disappoint. Check it out, and if you haven't, why not check out the area's variety of more established African-American owned newspapers, such as the Carolinian, the Carolina Times, Greensboro's Peacemaker. The perspectives and coverage in these papers vary widely, so don't assume that in reading one you've read them all.

(For reasons similar to my appreciation for African-American-based papers. I'm heartened by the recent surge in the state's Latino press. Perhaps women's newspapers, even openly progressive newspapers may follow.)

—Jeff Saviano

The Global Jail

The fear of prisoners escaping their confinement has been solved by a simple expedient, technological advances that allow the entire earth to serve as a prison. New surveillance technology employing Global Positioning Satellites and wireless modules worn on the ankle may allow for complete monitoring of offenders anywhere on the planet. Leading edge companies in the surveillance field, like Pro Tech Monitoring, are excited about the possibilities of their "offender satellite surveillance system." Says PTM president Bob Martinez, "Our business aims at taking offender monitoring into the 21st century." This enthusiasm is echoed by Jason Coheneur, Sales VP for Sierra Wireless, who praises his company's "continued strategy to deliver practical, effective wireless solutions to new segments of the public safety market." Hoyt Layson, VP for PTM, praises his company's products as "the perfect option for our complete wireless solution.'' Hmm... the 'final solution?' (http://spacer.com, noted by Agitprop News.)


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