Fargo Forum Reporter Would Like You To Know That North Dakota Is A Racist State
I don’t normally concern myself with the opinions of local sports reporters because, let’s face it, if they spell the players’ names right they’re a step ahead of most of their colleagues. But The Root had an interesting article about racial incidents involving hockey fans (a troubling issue, to be sure) and quoted Fargo Forum sports reporter Ryan S. Clark.
Clark talks about the problems with race in general, comments I actually don’t disagree with all that much, but then caps his comments with this bit of ignorance:
“I’ve written stories about the number of black kids playing junior hockey and why we don’t see more and someone responded by saying, ‘We shouldn’t be seeing race and hockey stories in the paper.’ Granted, I live in Fargo, N.D., and this is a state where people feel the NCAA is wrong for telling the University of North Dakota to get rid of the Sioux nickname. People have actually said up here, ‘How come Notre Dame can be the Fighting Irish but we cannot be the Fighting Sioux?’
“Race issues in hockey will never get the attention for reasons I think we already are well aware of. I still have people in shock when they find out my goal is to cover the NHL.”
Setting aside how you may personally feel about the Fighting Sioux issue for a moment, not to mention Clark conveniently forgetting that the people currently leading the charge to keep the nickname right now are actual Sioux Indians, it’s clear that this guy has a pretty low opinion of the state where he’s working. He wasn’t just insulting Sioux nickname supporters. He took a jab at the whole state.
If this were a phenomena that were unique to someone like Clark it would just be a moment of petulance not worth our attention. But it’s not. Time and again North Dakota’s media outlets hire reporters who are from far outside of North Dakota, and who harbor disdain if not outright disgust for our state (at times I get the feeling that Forum Communications, as an organization, resents that they’re based in North Dakota, but I digress).
I don’t know how much of it is that they view their time in North Dakota as just as a stepping stone out in the hinterlands that they must endure before they make their glorious entrance into larger and more important media markets. I don’t know how much of it is just genuine dislike for our state and the people who live here. But attitudes like Clark’s aren’t at all unusual among North Dakota’s press corps, unfortunately, as anyone in the state’s political circles can tell you. It’s a subject that comes up often among the state’s politicos and policy makers.
It seems as though every election cycle, on the political side of things, North Dakota sees one crop of reporters leave to replaced by a fresh crop of cubs. It’s to the point where very few of our reporters covering the most important issues in the state have any real experience in journalism, let alone experience covering the North Dakota beat.
But the media industry is changing. The days when a reporter might cover a beat for decades are all but over. J-school graduates are desperate for jobs, and with North Dakota not exactly known as a premium beat, we usually get the most desperate and least qualified candidates here.
Which isn’t to say that’s true of every reporter in the state. Some really have made a career out of covering North Dakota, and even some of the “cub reporters” who have come and gone have done a pretty good job while they’re here. But for every one of those we seem to have more who are just going through the motions, and resenting it, until they can find a job somewhere else.
I often wonder how much that plays into how poor most of our media coverage in North Dakota really is.Tags: fargo form, media bias, North Dakota News