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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Health, Housing, and Public Services
San Francisco Examiner: The Press on Market
The San Francisco Examiner's one-sided tirade against the poor and homeless...
THE PRESS ON MARKET: A MESS
On Saturday night, a group of homeless people and housing activists marched to the offices of the San Francisco Chronicle to demand fair reporting on issues important to them. A local resident showed up at the protest with a copy of the Examiner\'s Friday edition. Holding back tears, she said, "Can somebody help me?"
"I heard about the protest and I had to come down," said Karen (speaking anonymously), who lives at the Knox, on 6th Street. "I can\'t believe the news prints this kind of stuff," she said. "They always want to say people are bad around here or that its about drugs, but that\'s not true."
The Examiner article makes it clear that "[r]esidents of the street said they suspected it was a drug-related shooting. Many of them pointed to the killing as a reason for District Attorney Terence Hallinan having a reputation for being lax on prosecuting low-level drug crimes." The article doesn\'t quote "many residents" who think this, but it does quote a liquor store owner and someone visiting from Arizona.
Karen took a group of street journalists to the memorial which had been quickly put together on 6th Street. "I came to the protest hoping to find someone who could get this information out," she said. Even though the Examiner article calls her neighborhood "one of the darkest, most drug-infested areas of San Francisco," Karen insists that their coverage twists and distorts the reality. "I\'ve lived here over 4 years, and the people around here are so nice, like a community. Homeless people will give my kids money to get ice cream or something at the store."
Other local residents, standing near the memorial, also spoke out anonymously. One young woman, who lives at the Seneca Hotel, was angry about the corporate media\'s attention on a person running a live webcam there which is pointed at 6th Street: "I noticed that he didn\'t want to show his face when he was on the tv news. I wonder if he\'s scared about his privacy." Another resident said she didn\'t think there was a reason to say the recent killing was drug-related: "I was here then, no one was saying it was about drugs."
The Examiner series has been continuing to replace facts and journalism with distortions and bias. In some cases, a higher editorial power is at work, changing the news in an obvious attempt to demonize people. In another "Mess on Market" article written by Mezin, "Police sweeps aid mid-Market cleanup," she says the City Editor made the final call to publish that "[h]igh on the city\'s todo list is getting the riffraff off mid-Market Street." Mezin had turned in the article with different words: "high on the city\'s todo list is sprucing up mid-Market Street."
This prejudice against "riffraff" is prevalent throughout the article, which describes SFPD\'s plan to, among other things, get rid of "unauthorized street vending" and "homeless encampments." The article slams the neighborhood\'s poor and homeless without mercy, writing of "strong smells," a "scruffy image," and "aggressive panhandlers." Mezin didn\'t speak to any homeless people while researching the article. And according to the article, the only opposition to this plan is one quote from a local housing activist, Mary Kate Conner, who says, "[p]eople are just being swept from place to place."
According to Conner, she has grown to assume that the Examiner will not print what she really thinks: "I didn\'t see the article, but I\'m sure it was bullshit." Weeks later, Conner was pleading with the Police Commission with hundreds of other local residents to get mental health training for the city\'s police, a month after SFPD shot a young man over 20 times at the Metreon.
These residents of 6th Street wanted to make sure that their voice is heard even though corporate media ignores them. The SF Examiner\'s "Mess on Market" series has capitalized anyway it can on the daily violence of poverty around Market Street. This continuing "news" series has downplayed or ignored community health workers, housing activists and homeless people who are fighting for survival against prejudice, police harrassment and a violent climate created by sensational corporate media. The Examiner has ignored police brutality and city attacks on Food Not Bombs, a group which serves free food.
As long as the press on Market Street sells lies for advertising revenue, we will call them out on it. Corporate media outlets cannot claim "objectivity" while encouraging attacks against people in our neighborhoods. At the protest on Saturday, a homeless newspaper vendor gave everyone a wake-up call: "When you have one-sided media which targets and demonizes a minority, you have the same thing as Nazi Germany and fascist police."