Diary

Murder in Philadelphia: Is Anybody There? Does Anybody Care?

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Sometimes an article which would deserve a laughing out loud derision is about a subject which is in no way humorous. On Friday, December 11, 2020, Helen Ubiñas published an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “What do you know about the Philadelphians killed by guns this year? At least know their names.

The last time we published the names of those lost to gun violence, in early July, nearly 200 people had been fatally shot in the city.

Just weeks before the end of 2020, that number doubled. More than 400 people gunned down.

By the time you read this, there will only be more.

Even in a “normal” year, most of their stories would never be told.

At best they’d be reduced to a handful of lines in a media alert:

“A 21-year-old Black male was shot one time in the head. He was transported to Temple University Hospital and was pronounced at 8:12 p.m. The scene is being held, no weapon recovered and no arrest.”

That’s it. An entire life ending in a paragraph that may never make the daily newspaper.

Of course, Miss Ubiñas followed the Inquirer’s stylebook in claiming that these Philadelphians were “killed by guns.” No, they were killed by bad people, people who used guns as their tools. But the Inquirer doesn’t want to ever say that part.

I’ve told the truth previously: unless the murder victim is someone already of note, or a cute little white girl, the editors of the Inquirer don’t care, because, to be bluntly honest about it, the murder of a young black man in Philadelphia is not news. Unless the victim was a Somebody, the Inquirer didn’t care. If the victim is a white male, and the shooting probably accidental, yeah, that merits not just one but two stories.

And so we come to a story in Sunday’s Inquirer:

3 dead, 9 people shot in another violent overnight in Philly

by Katie Park | December 13, 2020 | 2:23 PM EST

Nine people were shot overnight Saturday, three fatally, in a series of violent hours in Philadelphia that included a double homicide, police said.

Two men died at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center after they were shot on South Ruby Street in West Philadelphia around 1:30 a.m., police said Sunday.

One of the men, who was 33, had been shot a total of eight times — three times in each leg, once in the chest, and once in the torso, police said. The other man, 25, was shot in the chest. Police said both died within minutes of each other around 2 a.m.

Take note: this was Saturday night; the weekend was not over when the Inquirer reported the story. The Philadelphia Police Department’s Current Crime Stats page on Sunday still shows 466 homicides, but that was of 11:59 PM EST on Thursday, December 10th; it’s normally updated during the business week around 8:00 AM.

At Broad Street and Hunting Park Avenue in North Philadelphia, a man between 20 and 25 years old died from a gunshot wound to the chest during a carjacking a little before 10:40 p.m., police said. He was pronounced dead about 20 minutes later at Temple University Hospital.

We cannot expect the Inquirer to report the names of those victims in the initial stories, because families have to be notified, but the truth is that the Inquirer will almost certainly not have any further stories on these victims unless the police are able to make arrests and charges in the cases listed. That’s the part Miss Ubiñas appeared to be decrying, but, with all of the layoffs over the years at Pennsylvania’s newspaper of record, perhaps a newsroom full of the #woke doesn’t really have the time to pursue such stories.

Going back to Miss Ubiñas’ story, roughly a third of the names have hyperlinks embedded, some to a website called the Philadelphia Obituary Project, and some to news stories about their killings. Still, in a lot of cases, such as this one about 22-year-old Isaiah Carter, all that it has is a photo and “If you have any information about this victim, please contact us at [email protected] Date: 2020-08-14 Location: 200 E Clearfield St, Philadelphia, PA”.

The Philadelphia Eagles, in the midst of a really bad season, replaced starting quarterback Carson Wentz with former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, and the Iggles beat the New Orleans Saints 24-21. There will be four or five, and maybe more, stories on the Inquirer’s website about this game, in which nobody died.

I guarantee there won’t be a bunch of stories about the at least three people who lost their lives in Philly’s mean streets, because it really isn’t news, and let’s be honest, other than their families, nobody cares.
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