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Letter: Why do readers tolerate sensationalism?

Well, once again we have been subject to the frenzy of the media. This time it is about the unfortunate shooting of Treyvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. Such specious sensationalism, unfortunately, is apparently tolerated by readers and advertisers.

When the New York Times referred to George Zimmerman as a "white Hispanic" I knew we, the readers, were in for it. This so-called leading newspaper didn't seem to get the drift that it was OK to call a person a white Hispanic because his mother was Hispanic and his father was white. But I wonder why they don't refer to Mr. Obama as a white African American? Well, we know better, but don't the Times' writers understand that what they have written makes it only more difficult for diversity to succeed in America?

Not only is the Times wrong and inconsistent, they are joined by other reporters and opinion makers on radio and TV. When Rachel Jeantel, a witness for the prosecution, had difficulties on the stand, one CNN reporter called it "humiliating." And a radio personality said that if the jury had been black "they would have acted differently." Whatever that means.

Now, when we take a serious look, we find out press people are just ordinary people like you and me, subject to error. For example, look at the following press miscues: "Mississippi's literacy program shows improvement;" "Diana was still alive hours before she died;" "Statistics show that teen pregnancy drops off significantly after age 25;" "Hospitals resort to hiring doctors;" "Federal agents raid gun shop, find weapons." And the beat goes on.

So I ask, nay I plead, that you don't automatically assume that reporters are some sort of truth givers with divine powers. Rather recognize that they are fallible. In other words, be circumspect.

Fulton Gallagher