Within a one-month time span two white CNN reporters have said the word n***er on air in the midst of reporting on stories involving hateful language used toward African Americans and amongst the apologies that have been issued, a lot of people are still weighing in on how appropriate or inappropriate the word is in news coverage.
Don Lemon, a CNN news anchor himself, recently spoke on the issue during the network’s racism free zone segment, which is supposed to symbolize the ability to express your opinion without judgement, and he said he doesn’t have an issue with journalists using the word. During the debate he said:
“I hate saying ‘the n-word,’ I think it takes the value out of what that word really means, especially when we’re reporting it.
I don’t care what color the reporter is, I think someone should say ‘that person called him a n***er,’ rather than ‘the n-word,’ because it sanitizes it.”
Of course, here comes the white correspondent with the argument that “you confuse white people because when you say it, we think why can’t we say it” and luckily Don Cleared that up quickly, saying by no means is he talking about the use of the word in a casual context, he’s only speaking on the aspect of reporting. I’d also like thank Goldie Taylor for pointing out the fact that no white person on this earth is confused about that word.
Don brings up an interesting point, though. It does hold more weight in a sense to have the word n***er pierce your ears but you still don’t feel the amount of hate that was behind it in its original use so I don’t think it’s really necessary to get the point across in reporting. Most networks seem to feel that way as well. Check out the full debate on the topic in the clip below.
Do you agree with Don or is saying “the n-word” sufficient to get the point across in news reporting?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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