Sunday, August 29, 2010
New Orleans' newspaper representation
A quick wikipedia collection of demographic percentages reveals the following about the places I've called home:
Ridgefield, CT: 96.12% white, 0.62% black, 1.97% hispanic.
New London, CT (a city with much less land but a similar total of citizens): 54.6% white, 14% black, 21.9% hispanic.
Boston, MA (the largest city in New England and twice the population of New Orleans): 56.3% white, 23.5% black, 23.5% hispanic.
New Orleans, LA (pre-Katrina-related federal levee failure): 28.05% white, 67.25% black, 3.06% hispanic.
A recent article in the Times-Picayune put New Orleans' estimated white population at 32% and the black at 61%, roughly.
You will notice that the cities are home to more racial and ethnic diversity.
One thing in common with Ridgefield's and New Orleans' newspapers is that neither regularly features many black faces. The other day, I looked through the Times-Picayune and counted African Americans in three places: the sports pages, which I don't read; the obituaries, which I don't read; and a list of criminals at large, which I also don't read.
While I wouldn't expect to find many African Americans in the pages of the Ridgefield Press, I would expect more in the Times-Picayune. According to the paper of record, little is happening in two thirds of the city. The Times-Picayne does, however feature breathless accounts of events on its society page. Nell Nolan covers that beat and, to her credit, African Americans are covered there from time to time. I have to admit though, I haven't yet been able to read the society page from beginning to end.
I suppose no news is good news but most of what is reported about New Orleans African American community skews toward the negative. This can only continue adding to the negative impressions of New Orleans' "minorities" as criminals, which, I've found by direct experience, is far, far from the truth.
I've heard this chalked up to the city's patrician culture, and I believe that does play a part. A recent, thick Sunday section dedicated to debutantes was a bewildering allocation of newsprint and ink. You can scroll down the page of Nell Nolan's Social Scene to see a representation of who is "socializing" in New Orleans.