What It Is, Is Not Journalism

Photo credit: Bob Brown, Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

I never thought that I would agree with Jim Bacon on the slant of the RTD’s news coverage, but an article on evictions today just really irritated me.

It was the usual article about activists demonstrating at the Richmond courthouse and protesting evictions. (At least the demonstration on Thursday was peaceful; no smashed windows, no pepper spray, no arrests.)  The article was a cut and paste job, recounting the familiar history of the how many evictions are pending and how a moratorium on evictions has been lifted. It concluded with several quotes from college-age demonstrators talking about the corrupt capitalist society. (I had another flashback to the 1960s).

I have great sympathy for folks who are having trouble paying their rent due to the economic problems created by the pandemic. What irritated me about the article are the unasked questions. Questions such as: How many actual eviction hearings have been held since the expiration of the moratorium? What were the results of those hearings? Did the tenants have legal representation? What is the status of the pilot eviction diversion program authorize to be established in Richmond? Supposedly, the Northam administration was working on getting the program, authorized in 2019 legislation, organized and ready to go by the effective date of July 1. What is going on with that? How about the $6 million pledged by the city for eviction diversion? How is that being distributed? Or has the Stoney administration even gotten around to trying to figure out how to implement the program?

It is easy to cut and paste old stories and interview a few students who will provide provocative quotes. But, that is not journalism.