Tale of Two Papers | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Tale of Two Papers 

Oh, how the city's two papers play up different stories. Is it time to call hate crimes something different? Plus, young voters are turning out in higher numbers but reports suggest they could be in the dark.

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Tale of Two Papers
These two are not the same. That is the Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune. It was a joyous day last week for U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart as he rolled out his Fairness for All Act, which he curiously believes will bring "both sides" together on LGBTQ rights. Stewart was the lead story in the D-News with a huge photo op outside the Capitol. Even the Seventh Day Adventists endorsed the act—I mean, "principled piece of legislation." This comes six months after the Equality Act, which the D-News reports shores up LGBTQ rights but reduces legal remedies available to religious objectors. Now for the Trib: Also on the front page, but below the fold. The subhead reads "The president of an LGBTQ group says [Stewart's] measure would 'erode' civil rights while 'sanctioning' discrimination." What a difference a newspaper makes.

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Misleading Hate Maybe we need to call hate crimes something else. The word hate is used too much and in too many instances to have any real meaning. You can almost hear a teenager screaming at his parents, "I hate you!" Even the U.S. Department of Justice says the term can be misleading. And after New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd opined that it's an emotional word often meant to demean women, well, she got more than 1,400 responses. So why do we insist on calling out "hate crimes?" When the Trib valiantly looked into the story behind hate crime numbers in the state, the paper got answers that were more about culture than fact. Some police officers didn't recognize crimes as "hate," and a university researcher called out implicit bias in the way these crimes are reported. So let's call these crimes something else. Intimidation, perhaps?

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Civic Duty Fiction
If you believe that children are the future, then there's good and bad news. The Census Bureau shows a 16 percentage point jump to 36% in the 18-to-29 year-old voting demographic in the 2018 midterms. In Utah, turnout rates between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections more thandoubled, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. So, they're taking their civic duty seriously. Or are they? The Daily Utah Chronicle quoted one young voter as saying they don't think their vote makes a difference. And worse yet, they might be in the dark. A Stanford study showed that students were unable to tell fact from fiction, NPR reported. What does that mean in the era of fake news? "If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed," NPR wrote, while researchers described the results as "dismaying," "bleak" and a "threat to democracy."

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses and Citizen Revolt columns. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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