I've read a lot about Wendy Bell in the past week.
For those who don't know the story, Wendy Bell, anchorwoman for Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV, made national news this week after posting her opinion on a black-on-black shooting in Wilkinsburg a few weeks ago. She was subsequently fired from WTAE. She says about the criminals:
“You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday. … They are young black men, likely in their teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.”
These comments, and the rest of her interpretation on the state of the black man in our nation, are undoubtedly, institutionally racist. The public is entitled to their outrage. WTAE was right to state that her views did not align with WTAE's journalistic code of ethics.
I am not convinced, though, that the consequences - after taking her out of the spotlight - need be so severe. I am talking about the death threats, the malicious comments on her posts and page. The way we so quickly respond online to any public figure we do not agree with. These happen every day. We judge others as quickly as they are to judge us.
Because of this punishment, she states, she hasn't been able to eat or sleep in a week.
Removing a public figure with views that should not be reiterated in the public eye is wise. Continuing flaggellation is not. There are other factors contributing to her post that the public should consider.
1). WTAE - did they not monitor her social media work? Or were they in line with her post, and allowed her to post it? Did they train her to speak in public? Did they give her clear guidelines on their ethics?
2). Bias - Her biases reflect a larger issue with our journalistic culture. Our media has become pervaded with opinion, blog posts. Sensationalism is not a new idea. By being human, you are subjective. There is no such thing as unbiased journalism. Everything you create, speak on, or how you walk around, what you wear, is a product of your environment. We cannot escape bias.
3). Education - this is a matter of whether or not our public figures are educated on the ideological status of culture. Did anyone educate her on racism? On the criminalization of black men in America? On socioeconomic status and how it is tied to race? It seems that, along the way, our educational system, WTAE, and those Wendy Bell had come in contact with, failed her.
I petition forgiveness, and education. In lieu of defensiveness, we must forgive the hurt she has caused, and instead shift our focus from her, and other public figures - like Donald Trump - to one of enlightening important issues in our country.
If we aren't focusing on the underlying cause, we will never rid the world of our problems, and another Wendy Bell will emerge for us to persecute, fire - and the outrage will live on.