Last year, News 21 – the national yearly investigative reporting project from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism – spent seven and a half months researching, investigating, and documenting hate crime and hate groups in America.
The first four months were spent at our respective schools – 40 students from around the country and world – researching and interviewing online and on the phone. During this time we established focus areas for our reporting, and background research.
For the final ten weeks, we all came together at the Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix, and from there arranged country-wide travel to interview and document people with as many varied experiences as possible regarding hate crime – Law Enforcement Agencies and agents, victims, perpetrators, witnesses, citizens, past and present.
Can’t say I miss spending so much time and energy digging so deep into the culture of hate in our country. Even talking with the good guys – like Booker T. Hunter, President of the Jasper, TX branch of the NAACP – was a grim affair, recounting past violence, reflecting on current affairs, interpreting signs of the times.
Talking with and following the bad guys – Chris Cantwell, the Crying Nazi, for instance – sickened me, and boggled my mind, and only occasionally helped me to understand the hate.