ABC7 photoThe metro section of the San Francisco Chronicle is the first, and often the only, section of the paper I read. It's where all the juicy local morsels that aren't quite worthy of front page coverage land. On Saturday, I was a little surprised to see bold black letters spread across the top of the page: "Dellums' difficult dealings with the media". That's news?
"Dellums" refers to the present mayor of the city of Oakland, former Congressman Ron Dellums. Christopher Heredia's article begins:
The reporter then quotes three reporters and a journalism professor on the deficiencies of Dellums' media relations. Nothing in the article explains the context in which Dellums was speaking: his very African-American city is traumatized by the broad daylight, execution-style murder of a prominent African-American reporter who was investigating a corrupt, but well-known, African-American community institution. Here's a thoughtful and vivid account of how that trauma is felt by one Oakland resident.
Okay -- I'm willing to believe Heredia and the other reporters that Dellums is hard to get a statement from. He wasn’t very accessible to constituent opinions when in Congress -- I wouldn’t be surprised if he resents the cacaphony of citizen demands now that he is mayor. He should make sure he has an efficient, responsive press office. But at least he's speaking to the real mood of his city, not writing myopic, self-centered commentary.
I am sorry if the press don't like being reminded of it, but their outlets do thrive on stories and images of mayhem and murder. And it is not unfair to point out that those accounts fit neatly into dispiriting racial stereotyping of the Bay Area's largest Black enclave. No wonder Dellums gets pissy with the media -- the pervasive frame in which Oakland events are pigeon-holed makes his task harder.
Here's what Dellums wanted to get across in the offending press conference -- these points were the last paragraphs of Heredia's article:
I don't think those are unreasonable thoughts to put to an audience of media workers.