Accuracy in Media

NPR appears to be remarkably tone-deaf here. Their story following up on the Buffalo shootings bemoans the manner in which the closure of the grocery store, while investigations continue, makes the surrounding area a “food desert.” It’s possible to think that there might be other local problems at present, other than the shortage of iceberg lettuce.

But that is what they run with:

The racist massacre at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store this month has refocused attention on an issue that affects millions of Americans: lack of access to healthy, affordable food.

The shooter not only tore apart lives and families, he also struck an institution at the heart of a community: a grocery store that residents fought for years to get, in a neighborhood that hadn’t had a supermarket like it in decades.

Yes, we know that every article has to have a lede, but we’re really pretty sure that the slaughter of innocents has not made folk think about grocery supplies.

NPR then goes on to worry about food deserts, which is an area a mile or more from a store selling a wide variety of fresh food items.

Food deserts are a problem. Causes are argued about. It’s possible, as the article quotes, to think that it’s about redlining or just not caring for the poor. It’s possible to think that it’s the poverty itself – given the usual complaints about the rapaciousness of capitalists we might argue that if there was any money to be had, then someone would be there collecting it. But while the reason might be argued about the problem does exist – too many Americans don’t have immediate access to healthy and fresh food.


NPR is of course one of the major media outlets. Ranked, for arts and entertainment at No. 3 in the U.S. The radio shows are repeated across the affiliates and the website itself gains 75 million visits a month.

That food deserts exist, that there has been mass homicide, these are both facts. The attempt to tie them together, to use one as the lede into the discussion of the other. No, really, come on NPR.

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