News Service Accused of Cultural Insensitivity in Describing Dead Boys in Crash as "Obsessed," "Arabic-speaking," "Middle Eastern"

Categories: OC Media

Abdulrahman-Alyahyan.jpg
Driver Abdulrahman Alyahyan, R.I.P.
By describing the two boys who died along with three girls in a Newport Beach Memorial Day crash as "obsessed," "Middle Eastern immigrants" who "spoke Arabic together when they hung out, which was constantly," is the Associated Press displaying cultural insensitivity?

If not, asks a media watchdog, why did the AP not report on the ethnicity, languages and country of origin of the female victims? The international news service reveals driver Abdulrahman Alyahyan, 17, was from Saudi Arabia and passenger Nozad Al Hamawendi, 17, was from Iraq. One assumes from the surnames, but not AP, that Cecilia Zamora, 17, and sisters Robin Cabrera, 17, and Aurora Cabrera, 16, are Latinas.

The Associated Press, like other news services, constantly updates, rewrites and pulls information in and out of stories. A version of the Jamboree Road crash story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch contains many of the passages criticized by iMediaEthnics, a nonprofit also known as StinkyJournalism.com that was founded by Rhonda Roland Shearer, artist, art historian and adjunct journalism lecturer at the University of Iowa's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and her late husband Stephen Jay Gould, the noted Harvard professor and scientist.

The AP source for the late boys' countries of origin is their "close friend" Mohamad Abdul Razzak, 16, who "also arrived in the U.S. last year from Lebanon." No such description of the country of origin is given to the friends of the girls quoted by the news service.

One key passage from the iMediaEthics report:

The AP described the deceased young men as being

"...part of a larger group of about 10 close friends who were either first- or second-generation immigrants from various Middle Eastern countries."

And that they "all spoke Arabic together when they hung out, which was constantly."

Later:
It is striking that the AP chose to highlight the ethnic background of only some of the victims and only one of their sources. How is the information relevant to the story? AP does not say.

Given the current climate in this country (events like the Boston bombing and hate crimes against Muslims, Arabs and Sikhs) this is ethically questionable and potentially inflammatory. And the climate is only exacerbated when combined with the AP's description of the two as "obsessed."

Nozad-Al-Hamawendi.jpg
Nozad Al Hamawendi, R.I.P.
That's the word the AP applies to Alyahyan ("obsessed with his Infiniti sedan") and Hamawendi ("obsessed with weight-lifting"). Obsessed, of course, is also a word often used to describe those who call for a ... well ... let's just say it rhymes with "bee hodd." The girls, meanwhile, are said by the AP to be "accomplished dancers" (but apparently not obsessive ones).

iMediaEthics checked other recent AP coverage of fatal crashes involving teens and found no such ... wait for it ... obsession with having to report victims' ethnicity or countries of origin. The watchdogs also checked coverage of the Newport Beach crash by the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets and found no mentions of race or ethnicity but descriptions of the boys as essentially nice lads.

The Weekly contacted the AP this morning for a reaction but has not yet heard back. This post will be updated should the news service offer a response.

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22 comments
SickSnale
SickSnale

That is important information. I like to know whether or not I should give a F and with that info, I know I don't.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

""I know Gillian, and we've worked with him her on a number of stories," Nouh said. "As a reporter, he she has a history of being culturally sensitive in his her reporting. I honestly have no reason to believe that he she had any ill-intention.""

Gender confusion. LOL.

justinhayward400
justinhayward400

Hey, I thought young Arabs liked killing themselves. What's the big deal?

OCMrsK
OCMrsK

"One assumes from the surnames, but not AP, that Cecilia Zamora, 17, and sisters Robin Cabrera, 17, and Aurora Cabrera, 16, are Latinas."

I assume they are from the Philippines considering they are Asian.  Check the facts people. The Philippines were colonized by the Spanish so many Filipino people have Latin surnames.  

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

The only thing questionable is the author mentioning that the kids "all spoke Arabic together" 

(which, in the minds of many people, is a correlation to planning a jihad).  

The language they spoke really has nothing to do with what happened, or is a significant piece of detail to paint the backstory.  


The references to immigrating from Middle Eastern countries and with being obsessed with cars and weightlifting are acceptable descriptors to help the readers profile who these kids were. 

Andrew Cusumano
Andrew Cusumano

If oc weekly could PLEASE dig into these kids and find out if one of the males had access to a black 99-05 Camry, it would mean a lot to me. A few weeks ago I was almost hit by an idiot going over 100 weaving through traffic with a full car; he looked like this kid and was around the same age. I sincerely hope that my 911 call didn't go uninvestigated and this was the aftermath of a lifestyle spiraling downward.

DAVEWENDELL
DAVEWENDELL

I LIKE THE STORY ROLLING AROUND THAT THE RECIEVED AID FOR ATTENDING IVC EQUAL THAT OF A YEAR AT CHAPMAN!!

wtf?

AlbertoBurns
AlbertoBurns

So you found some third-rate "media watchdog" site that threw a tizzy when the MSM didn't kiss the driver's ethnic azz?  Big deal, the kid killed four other people.  Insensitivity is far down the list.  Next!

TylerDurden
TylerDurden

Fuck this kid.  Only 17 and already has record:


4/20/13:

  • 12814.6(b)(1) VC Violation of provisional license driving restrictions

  • 27151(a) VC Modification of exhaust system prohibited

  • 26708(a)(2)-NP VC Material obstructing/reducing driver's view-No proof per VC 40610

10/25/11:

  • 308(b) PC Possess/purchase tobacco or paraphernalia ; under 18

UPDATES

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

How stupid.  There are a million stories out there about teenagers who are "obsessed" with this or that. Cars, video games, girls, sports, whatever.  Look around, there are millions of teenagers "obsessed" with their own race and cultural identity. It's a normal late stage of childhood development and it's not racist to say so. (Sadly, at OCWeekly, some people haven't yet matured beyond this stage). My kid, for example, is obsessed with Korean culture and spends much of her time in a club to share and celebrate it. If she ended up in a news story, it would be right and proper to give a few words to describe her interests, what gives her joy, and who she spends her time with. It's who she is. It's not racist to say so.  

What is this, racist labeling week at OCWeekly?

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

Jesus christ. We're supposed to be culturally sensitive to muslims now?!? Get out of here. They have more money than most as evidenced by the cars they give their kids. Who cares about their jihadist feelings? 

eagle_rn94
eagle_rn94

Does it make you feel better to be an ignorant FUCK. Have some respect for those who died and just give a human characterized respond next time you PIECE OF SHIT.

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

@DAVEWENDELL Umm you stupid or something. You know how college financial aid works? WELL DO YOU DAVEWENDELL DO YOU KNOW HOW ANNOYING YOU ARE TYPING LIKE DIS AND NOT MAKING ANY SENSE.

metalmot
metalmot

@TylerDurden 


No license, but give him a 40k car than can do a buck and half and turn him loose in traffic.

At least this DarwinAward hit a tree instead of someone else.

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

@TylerDurden Wow you outdo yourself. You think the real Tyler Durden would give a crap about the stupid CARB? You drive a Prius? Admit it you do. Material obstructing view? What's that mean? He had some kinda burka on his dashboard? Who cares. Oh noes he had cigarettes as well. Deserves to die for that in your sick faggoty world. Buncha nonsense. Didn't even know those scumbag cops checked for modified exhaust. I'ma do a cat delete anyways. 

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

@TylerDurden I think the real Tyler Durden would modify his exhaust. I don't think the real Tyler Durden would care about the stupid CARB and their asinine rules. Oh noes he had a lighter or some ciggies too. Let's insult a dead person because of it. 

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@JGlanton Did you actually read the story, or are you just babbling as usual?

justinhayward400
justinhayward400

@GustavoArellano

Ever notice how Gus is always on the defensive? I'm sure it has something to do with that rather large chip that resides on his shoulders.

n2bigmuscle
n2bigmuscle topcommenter

Please explain what the problem is with the AP story?  To me, it gave me more deepth. This group of friends lost a big part of their circle in done day.  It made me think that there was hope in the future that we can all just get along.  Is that just naive of me?

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

@GustavoArellano @JGlanton  Intelligence is "babbling" to people who are jammed into their own context crack.  I directly addressed the issue of racism and obsession that was brought up in this silly race-baiting story.

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