hip hop music

December 14, 2003

Brent Batten Still Doesn't Get It

Follow-up courtesy of Dick Prince.

Naples Columnist Defends His Hip-Hop Column

Naples Daily News columnist Brent Batten rejects criticism of the column he attempted in "hip-hop" language, saying, among other things, that the piece was not racist because "the hip-hop audience is black, white and Hispanic. If I am insulting the hip-hop fans, I'm insulting a multiracial, diverse group."

In his Dec. 2 column in the Florida paper, Batten wrote about a failed concert that, his paper reported, drew only about 700 people when 7,000 to 10,000 were expected.

In a statement Tuesday night, the National of Black Journalists called the column "patently offensive, intellectually condescending and journalistically unfocused."

Returning a telephone call from Journal-isms, Batten, 44, called the language he used "an obvious exaggeration," and he said he had researched hip-hop speak before writing the piece. He said he was familiar with "Eminem, Tupac [Shakur], Snoop [Dogg] -- the ones that are kind of mainstreamed a little bit."

Batten, who has been at the paper 18 years, seven as a columnist, said he had not seen the NABJ statement but was elaborating on a letter he had written in response to other criticism on the Jim Romenesko Web site at the Poynter Institute. He said he'd received "tons" of e-mails, mostly critical.

The Scripps Howard paper, located in an affluent area with a concentration of retirees, reported having 1.2 percent people of color on its news staff for the annual census of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Batten said he had been told this was due to a lack of competitive pay at the paper and because "minority journalists were really in demand" elsewhere.

The paper did have an African American features editor who sat on the editorial board, but that journalist, Jenise Morgan, left in November 1999, he recalled.

Morgan, who is now senior editor of a book distribution company outside of Atlanta, told Journal-isms today she had been chairman of the paper's Diversity Task Force. She said she thought the column an isolated example, but that had she still been on the editorial board, "I probably would have expressed my concern had I seen something like that coming up."

The paper made outreach efforts during her time at the paper, Morgan said, but "Naples isn't one of those cities" with nightlife and other big-city attractions. A Naples native, she said she left because "I just wanted something different."

The newspaper today ran the NABJ statement, by Bryan Monroe, NABJ vice president/print, as a "guest commentary."

Posted by jsmooth995 at December 14, 2003 3:42 PM

Weblog Archives