How We Report on Jordan Neely’s Killing, Matters
Calling Jordan Neely's death a murder, we are destroying trust in institutions.
On The Daily works to be a credible news source, and how we report tragic events can shape the perception of those events. I founded this newsletter and I have to think about how we build that trust.
This post is not about running a startup newsletter, this post is about how this startup builds trust. Also, I was touched by Jordan Neely's death. My personal opinion is that the city of New York failed him as they re failing others with mental health issues.
So when we have the case of Jordan Neely there are two things we need to think about. Correct definition and correct description. Jordan Neely was a 30-year-old homeless person. He was on an NYC Metro train, shouting at passengers that he was hungry, thirsty, and tired of having nothing. He was grabbed from behind in a chokehold by a Marine veteran. After being held in a chokehold, Neely was pronounced dead at a hospital from the chokehold.
We have to look at what actually happened. Neely was killed. A killing is an unlawful, pre-meditated taking of a person's life. This was probably not premeditated, as the two did not know each other. For the most part, the media has reported this as the "death of" or the "killing of" Jordan Neely.
However, some people, including elected officials are using the word 'murder'. Why are they using that word? The word invokes fear. It invokes a sense of unfairness. It gets clicks.
Case in point, AOC.
But by calling Jordan Neely's death a murder, we are destroying trust in institutions.
Now that w have definitions out of the way, how do we describe the people involved? The marine put him in a choke hold. Is knowing that he was a Marine important or relative? Yes, it was. It goes straight to the point that he would know how to do a chokehold. I know that Jordan Neely was a Michael Jackson impersonator and busked on the subway. Maybe, but he had done that for a while. If he was performing as a Micahel Jackson impersonator when he was killed, then of course it was important.
Neither of those I would consider relevant. What I would consider relevant is that at the time of Jordan Neely's death, Neely was on the "Top 50 List" in New York City of the homeless individuals most in need of assistance and treatment. That would describe him as a person who did need mental health.
Jordan Neely has died. That is tragic, but the question is how the city can better serve those with mental illness.