The story of the death and burial and 15-year-old Delvon Reshad Butts, published in Baltimore’s Urbanite, ought to be read aloud in every journalism school classroom in America. Reporter Martha Thomas begins her piece with Delvon’s murder on the sidewalk around the corner from his house and somehow, without ever loosening her grip on that unspeakable tragedy, she writes of the conflicting theologies of a mourning mother and a preachy pastor; the brutal economics of burial for poor people; and African-American mourning rituals. Stories like Delvon’s are often exploited by ratings-crazy television news crews or quick hit newspaper coverage. Martha Thomas spent months with this story and it shows. You’ll have a hard time convincing me of the imminent demise of journalism so long as reporters and storytellers like Martha Thomas walk the streets.
Image by Christopher Myers.