Senator Mike Johnston's apperance on cover of Denver Post bittersweet
May 13, 2009 —
Mike Johnston's election to the state Senate May 11 was overwhelming - he won more than half the votes in the first round and, by almost any standard, left the competition in the dust.
The election of Johnston, who will represent Denver's district 33, was the headline in today's Denver Post - making news in a big town (albeit on a decidedly slow news day).
Reading the article, however, once again brought home the hard realities of how media operates.
Rather than reveal how Johnston won the hearts and minds of a multi-racial district in a short, three-week campaign, the article went hard to the race angle and stuck to it throughout the story, implying throughout that Johnston's victory was due to a rising number of white people in the district.
I was there for the election and the story completely missed the point.
Mike Johnston wasn't elected by white people from Stapleton, nor by black people from Montbello, he was elected by Americans who saw him as far and away the best candidate.
The reason Johnston won so decidedly is because he is a man who sees "Education as the civil rights issue of our time," who wrote a book called "In the Deep Heart's Core" about his experience teaching largely black classrooms in the Mississippi Delta, who is fluent in Spanish, and who has worked for equality among all races for the past 15 years and more.
If the Denver Post reporter, Tim Hoover, and his editors had taken as much time to get to know Johnston as the multi-racial vacancy committee did, they would (hopefully) have realized that the story here isn't that a white man took a black man's seat, but rather that a rising star has come to Colorado's Senate.
The disconnect between the media and the people has again been demonstrated here.
Rather than awaking to the realities of our changing Colorado community, print media has once again chosen to used the same tired, inflammatory tactics in an effort to move papers.
Yet the papers aren't moving, and print media is suffering tremendously.
When I hear pundits arguing that print media is critical to a well-functioning society and must be saved, I think of articles like this one and disagree. Media must save itself, but in my opinion it will not so long as it continues to print stories of this kind.
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