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Archive for May 5th, 2015

Page one, Omaha World-Herald, June 15, 1997I wrote this story in June 1997 for the Omaha World-Herald. At the time, President Bill Clinton was trying to focus the nation’s attention on addressing its racial divide, through a program called “One America in the 21st Century: The President’s Initiative on Race.”

We can argue here how much Clinton’s own sexual scandal and impeachment sidetracked any progress he might have made, and how much the election of Barack Obama 11 years later (and re-election four more years after that) advanced race relations and heightened the racial divide. But, as racially tinged police relations explode in city after city, and commentary about race is as polarized as ever, the racial divide is again our nation’s most pressing issue.

I present this story as a model for any journalist examining today’s racial divide. I think it was an excellent story at the time, though it had little impact. I hope you might have more impact with an updated approach, and perhaps a broader digital reach or a bigger microphone today.

This was a long story (actually, a package of multiple stories), made longer by my updating notes. If you’re considering a deeper examination of the racial divide, I hope it will be worth your time to work your way through it.

I will present the story as we published it in 1997, interspersed with recommendations today for data reporting, engagement, interactivity and updating to address how the issues have changed (if they have). The paragraphs from the Omaha World-Herald will be presented in plain text. My notes will be introduced in bold as a “Buttry note” of some kind, with the note following in light italics, either a few words or a few paragraphs.

I have posted the 1997 graphics with the relevant parts of the story. Doing it today, interactive data visualization would be an essential part of the story. At the end of this post, you can see how it was displayed 18 years ago. Sources were cited in a large block of type included with the graphic package.

From Birth to Death, Racial Gap Persists

Originally published June 15, 1997, Sunday, Pg. 1A, Omaha World-Herald

By STEPHEN BUTTRY

WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

Starting before birth, a black child faces longer odds against survival and success than a white child. (more…)

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