Story | Apr 29, 2015 | 2:48 PM
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Wandering Eye: Fact-checking the number of police killings, learning from 'Black Panthers,' and moreStory | May 8, 2015 | 8:22 AMEddie Conway has a lot of juice in Baltimore. A Black Panther who spent 44 years in state prison—he was convicted of killing a police officer named Donald Sager; many in the city's left community believe he was unjustly convicted—Conway links the city's radical past with its radical present. Even before last week's riots and protests, he appeared on radio talk shows and public forums to dispense his unique and sage view of events, historic and current. Now employed by The Real News Network as a producer, Conway is a journalist, with two books under his belt. That is why it is crucial that Conway get fact-checked in his current piece in The Progressive, which is co-bylined by Dominique Stevenson. After suggesting that youth at Mondawmin Mall were goaded into rioting by police (a claim this newspaper has also made but that is contested by police and other observers who were at the mall that afternoon), Conway and Stevenson make this claim: "Since 2012 there have been 111 people killed by the police in Maryland." It is a shocking number. And it is an error. The apparent source of the figure is this ACLU report released in March. According to the report, compiled from news reports and police press releases, 109 people died after encounters with Maryland police since 2010, two years earlier. It is still a shocking figure, and the report makes clear both the racial disparities and Maryland's apparent status as a particularly deadly place to encounter a cop: 86 of the dead were killed by police gunfire. That fact alone is shocking enough to make Conway's point. But while the nine-page ACLU report is heavy on statistical Holy Shit moments, it is light on detail. So light that it is impossible for anyone check the figures without doing arduous original research. Not even the names of these victims are included. As the authors state, "The purpose of our inquiry was not to detail the facts of individual cases, but rather to provide some sense of the overall scope of this problem in the aggregate and to convey the gravity and extent of its reach." The ACLU is generally a trustworthy source, but this is a curious report backed by a curious editorial decision. Its methodology is slightly reminiscent of the infamous, still-repeated claims by the Black Panthers that police targeted the group for genocidal assassination. In 1969 the Panther's spokesperson claimed 28 of its members had been assassinated by cops, and newspapers across the country published the figure as if it had been checked out. Two years later, in The New Yorker, Edward Jay Epstein did check it out. Read what he found out. (Edward Ericson Jr.)
Wandering Eye: Americans get the partisan government they deserve, Bloomberg helps cities use data, and more
Story | Apr 23, 2015 | 8:18 AM
Story | Jan 7, 2015 | 8:17 AM
Story | Jun 4, 2014 | 8:14 PM
Missed It: As a journalist, I'm practically required to check out Jim Romenesko's media news blog daily, but I don't, so I missed C-Span CEO Brian Lamb's Feb. 27 interview with Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. In it, Steele, says he has "no use" for The Sun due...