Jackie’s most recent issue featured an article about how to dress like Rihanna. It was titled ‘De Niggabitch’. The Barbadian music star wasn’t amused and took it to Twitter accusing the magazine of being “disrespectful” and “desperate”.
The R&B singer was not the only one to find the title of the article tasteless. But the magazine’s editor Eva Hoeke dismissed the initial criticism, claiming it was a joke and those who didn’t see it that way were “extremely sensitive”. After apologizing for the incident Hoeke stepped down as the pressure pilled up.
The magazine, however, won’t rectify the article.
A lot has been written about the (political)correctness of using such a term. Regardless of our opinion on the use of these words in social interactions, there is something to be said about using it in journalism.
A basic rule of journalism is that it is based on facts. If a magazine makes use of a disputed term as a given fact (in this case, Rihanna = nigga bitch), then it is undoubtedly making a statement.
While some words such as ‘to google’ could raise a few eyebrows for indirectly promoting a brand, others like these two will call for a greater debate. Whether we like it or not, these words contain political and social weight and are part of a greater debate regarding the shape of our society: how we see each other, how we respect each other.
Through my journalism career if there’s one thing I have learned is that there can never be too much care when reporting, and that’s because of the impact we have in society.
Among other things, through our reporting we introduce our readers/listeners/audience to new worlds and ways of life, we give them tools (facts) with which they can form their own opinions and make their own decisions.
Whether it was their intention or not, Jackie didn’t give its readers this freedom, instead it decided for them.
By using the term ‘nigga bitch’ what Jackie actually did was to tell their readers that it was ok to call people like that. It made a statement. But who is Jackie to make those words ok?