Is 18 the new 17¾?
The media, for one reason or another, has been infantilizing Michael Brown, the 18-year-old St. Louis man killed by a police officer last August 9. Many outlets are referring to him as a juvenile rather than as an adult.
Mediaite’s Eddie Scarry first raised the error and the Associated Press ended up changing two of its stories as a result. Not only has AP never justified its original decision … it’s continued the practice. Even Reuters’s doing it.
Some, like the conservative blog Hot Air, suggested that some kind of calculated narrative is at work. However, if that’s the case, it certainly isn’t borne from liberal bias: Fox News has also referred to Brown as an “unarmed black teenager”… a… few times … over.
Given how pervasive the practice is, it’s hard to believe that it’s accidental.
So. Obvious question: why?
Brown, who, according to his mother, apparently turned 18 and graduated high school almost simultaneously, has been portrayed by family and those who know him as a “kid”. Perhaps the media is simply projecting the image of a young man who was still very close to teen culture. But that would still make little sense. I don’t recall news outlets ever dismissing hard data, such as an age, for softer characteristics like reputation and looks.