By Ralph De La Cruz
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
First thing: Don’t call me Media.
I’ve been a journalist for 25 years. Long enough to remember when Media simply meant newspapers, television news and some radio.
But as we’ve gained channels and bandwidth, Media has come to mean any information transmitted electronically.
The foibles of celebrities, YouTube videos of people squirrel-fishing, Dancing With The Stars, or anything Kim Kardashian does – it’s all become part of this monster that we now call Media.
Media today too often means sloppy, shallow, inaccurate, self-serving …
Under those standards, we at the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting are not “Media.” We’re journalists. Newspaper people without the paper.
And so, this site and blog is devoted to news. To telling you things you may not know, and offering you stories you may not have read. To making sense of things that, at first glance, don’t seem to make sense. And to getting you to question the things you thought you knew.
For example, everyone understands that the economy is screwed up. We’re all familiar with the frightful ”10% UNEMPLOYMENT!” storyline. But what does 10% really mean?
We know people are suffering, and those lucky enough to have a job are overworked and stressed.
But if that’s the case, why is workplace violence down?
Well, if you look a little deeper, you’ll find that workplace homicide has not dropped nearly as much as the overall workplace fatality rate. And considering the drop in work hours due to layoffs, it’s not really a drop at all. And although the 237 cases of suicide in the workplace in 2009 represent a drop from the previous year, the 2008 number had been the highest level – ever.
Which meant that the two worst years occurred immediately after the Great Recession began in December 2007.
Another possible indicator of societal stress would be violent crimes and hate crimes. And again, both of those are down in Florida. A fact that law enforcement and the state Attorney General’s Office have been more than happy to trumpet.
But look deeper and the drop in hate crimes apparently didn’t apply to South Florida. Or gays, lesbians and the transgender community. Nationally, hate crimes against Hispanic immigrants has increased each of the past four years. And last week the homeless were added to Florida’s list of hate-crime victims. Good thing. 2009 was the deadliest year in terms of violence against the homeless.
And yet, the inclusion into the state’s hate crime law is also an indication that, in these days of “working-class homeless,” the issue of homelessness has finally gained some political traction.
This blog will require you to think. It’s committed to going beyond the first question. And it better. Because the world is a complicated place. It’s in constant flux. Issues and stories today rarely follow a linear path. They meander and take unexpected turns.
My job is to help you follow the trail. And let you decide where it goes.