|The editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal apologized for publishing the truth about the black gunman's attack on white people and white cops in Dallas.|
This is one of those moments. [CA Editor: We got it wrong., Memphis Commercial Appeal, July 13, 2016]:
By Louis Graham of The Commercial Appeal
Simply put, we got it wrong.
Those three big words in headline type stretched across Saturday's front page — Gunman Targeted Whites — were true according to police accounts in Dallas at the time but they badly oversimplified a very complex, rapidly evolving story, and angered many of our readers and many more in the broader community.
In my view the headline was so lacking in context as to be tone deaf, particularly in a city with a 65 percent African American population. That front page minimized the broader refrain of what's happening in our country with anguish over the deaths of young black men at the hands of police. It has been viewed as suggesting that this newspaper values the lives of white police officers more than young black men who have died in incident after incident.
The checks and balances in place to avoid just this type of disconnect didn't work that night for a variety of reasons. Too few people looked at the front page before it rolled off our presses. We've taken steps to correct that. But the larger challenge is recruiting a diverse enough staff to better reflect the city we cover. We continue to work on that and will be more introspective about how we do our jobs.
In an environment so fraught with anger and anxiety we added unnecessary fuel.
That's not our role. Ours is to explore and explain. The headline required restraint and we didn't provide it.
During this, our 175th year in business, I have been unflinching in our efforts the tell The Commercial Appeal's incredible story to this community. The whole story. Several months ago we published a wrenching account of our failures during that long history, particularly on the coverage of civil rights.
Of all the criticism I've read, and it is considerable, this stuck with me most from an angry reader:
"CA has really good reporters who try to include equity of voice + this cover doesn't portray that …"
The reader is right on both accounts and I had a face-to-face conversation with her today. I will be meeting with other readers who were angered as well.
There was a very similar reaction inside the newsroom. I was particularly disturbed by a comment I received from an African American editor who said she was disgusted by the page and threw the newspaper in the trash without reading it.
This newspaper, just like this city, has work to do. This column will raise the ire of some readers who believe the headline spoke the truth; that I'm kow-towing. I've already gotten an earful from readers angry over columnist David Waters' piece last week suggesting white churches had greater responsibility to solve the problem.
We've also heard from readers who objected to our 'Bridge Shut Down' headline; they believed it should have read 'Peaceful Protest.'
Please know I have more skin in the game than my paycheck. My wife and I raised our children here. They're raising theirs here, too.
Several of you have already requested I go back to June 2015 and look at the headline — also stretched across the top of the newspaper — when Dylann Roof was accused of killing nine African-Americans inside their beloved church in Charleston, S.C.
Did it say 'Gunman targets blacks,' I've been asked over and over.
No, it simply said 'Suspect Caught.'
Like I said, we have work to do.America is irredeemable because men like Louis Graham keep their power by constantly bending a knee to Black-Run America (BRA).
What percent of the black population in Memphis is even literate?