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Editorial: Tragedy overlooked

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How much is the life of an aspiring teacher from southeast Queens worth? Does life become more precious when the victim is a business woman on Madison Avenue? Two tragedies that occurred in recent weeks shed light on an inexcusable bias on the part of the city's major news media.

When a young woman who recently moved to New York from the nation's heartland was nearly beaten to death by a madman with a brick, the story made the front page of the daily newspapers and was the top story on the 11-o'clock news. And well it should have. The brutal attack reminded everyone of their vulnerability even in a city where crime is on the decline.

Sadly, a few days later when another young woman, an 18-year-old who hoped to become a school teacher, was stabbed to death by a crazed woman in a Jamaica bowling alley, it barely got a mention on the televised newscasts and was buried on the back pages in the daily papers.

What made the Madison Avenue attack so much more newsworthy? Does life suddenly become more valuable if the victim bleeds on expensive real estate? Is it the race of the victim that sets news priorities? Or is it just that the editors are oblivious to the fact that there is a world outside Manhattan? Whatever the reason, the editors of the major dailies and the news directors at every local television did not see much see the murder of Adrienne Davis as having much news value. It is a sad and aggravating truth.

This is not to say that the story of the young woman bashed on the head on Madison Avenue should not have been reported. We share in the public's outrage at this terrible crime and we hope her attacker will soon be brought to justice. We just look forward to the day when the murder of a young woman in Richmond Hill will be treated with equal importance.

This disparity in news judgment will come as little surprise to most readers in southeast Queens. Aside from the occasion Al Sharpton demonstration, most major media would be hard-pressed to find Jamaica, Springfield Gardens or Richmond Hill on a map.

Feed the hungry

Although we enthusiastically supported efforts to reform the welfare system, we have always worried what would happen to the people who fall through the cracks. As thousands were deleted from the welfare rolls, we worried about the integrity of the social safety net. In a city which every day throws away tons of food, is it possible that people, adults and children will go hungry?

The answer to this question is as painful as it is obvious. Visit the soup kitchen and pantry run by the Rev. Carl Baldwin on Guy Brewer Boulevard and you are likely to see hundreds of people who, were it not for the kindness of Rev. Baldwin and his congregation, would go hungry. Perhaps some of these people deserved to be taken off the welfare system, either because they cheated, refused to participate in workfare or have been on welfare for too long. It doesn't matter. What matters is that without the charity of Rev. Baldwin they would go hungry,

When the reform began, the mayor said he hoped that the churches would take up the slack. Unfortunately, that message didn't get to Albany. This year the state reduced funding for Baldwin's food pantry and soup kitchen from $12,000 to $4,000. This makes no sense. If the state wants to reduce welfare spending, it must increase support for those church-run pantries and soup kitchens that are picking up the slack.

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