Sunday, April 14, 2013

EBONY BOLDING ON HOW THE PRESS "TWISTED OUR WORDS"



“Our stories, told by us.” That’s the slogan of the Neighborhood Story Project, which has high school students and others conduct interviews, take photos, and write books about New Orleans life and culture. One of those books is Before and After North Dorgenois, by Ebony Bolding. In the following excerpt, Bolding talks about how the city newspaper "twisted our words" in its coverage of a shooting at John McDonogh High School. Buy hers and other books at the organization's online bookstore


A week later Caveman was shot in the John McDonogh gym. I wasn't there and didn't see it, so I don't know how it happened. I was sitting by the gate at my high school, Clark, during the lunch break, when an undercover cop rolled up and told us to move from by the gate because they just had a shooting at John Mac and someone had been killed. I was hoping that it wasn't anybody that I knew.

I rode the Broad bus home with my friend Brittany, and she came with me to my house. By the time we got to my house most of the television crews had gone away, but there were still many policemen in the area. We were sitting on my porch just a half a block from school when a white man with a notebook came up to us and started asking us did we know Caveman and Head. He was asking me about Head, because he knew he went to Clark. Not realizing he was a newspaper reporter, we commented on what he had asked us, but it wasn't too much. He kept asking us if we liked Head and we couldn't say anything bad because we didn't really know him that well. The truth was that I would see Caveman every time that I went by my Grandfather's house on Dumaine Street in the Fifth Ward. As for Head, I used to see him at school. I didn't have anything against either one of them. To me they were cool people.

The next day they had a big write-up about the killing that included quotes from myself and Brittany. I couldn't believe how he twisted our words around. The reporter made it like we didn't like Head and Caveman. It was a big mess, and the reporter made more drama.

After the shooting, John Mac got a bad name. Stories about the shooting stayed on the news for weeks and weeks, a big beef grew between the Fifth and Sixth Wards, and Brittany and I were caught in between. People kept asking me, "Why you said that about that boy, why you said this?" I would just tell them to mind their business, because everything you read in the newspaper is not true. The conflict got to the point that people were telling me that I should watch out, that people were going to do me something. My mom got worried about me, and Brittany's mom got worried about her, so they pulled us out of school for the rest of the year.

From Before and After North Dorgenois by Ebony Bolding (page 39). © 2005 by the Neighborhood Story Project.

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