There were a lot of comments posted here Tuesday about the Virginian-Pilot letting two weeks go by before mentioning in an editorial column that two of its staff members were attacked by a large gang.
I got an out-of-office reply when I asked editor Denis Finley about the newspaper’s decision two days ago (managing editor Maria Carrillo then commented); today the top editor addresses the matter in a front page column. He writes:
Some have accused us of burying the incident for political reasons.
Race has entered the equation. The attackers are black; Forster and Rostami are white. A Twitter post mentioned Trayvon Martin, fueling the opinion that we are practicing reverse racism, that if a group of white people had attacked a black couple, the incident would have been front-page news.
None of this is true.
The paper didn’t cover up anything, says Finley. “What would we gain by protecting some thugs who beat up two of our reporters? The accusation is ludicrous.”
We bend over backward to treat ourselves the same way we would treat any other member of the community. In fact, we go overboard at times to make sure there is no perception that we have treated ourselves favorably. Based on the facts, this story did not cross the bar to be published because as a general rule, The Pilot doesn’t publish stories about simple assaults.
Did we go too far in holding to this standard? I don’t know; I will always ask myself that question. But we made our decision based on what we knew at the time.
By the way, officials have charged a 16-year-old boy in the April 14 attack.