The boss of Kansas City Star on Monday apologized on behalf of the American daily for decades of racist and discriminatory coverage against the black minority.
“While we wrote this year about systemic racism in Kansas City,” after the death of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed, “we never put ourselves under the microscope to try to better understand how the Star had covered the black community for years, ”Mike Fannin, president and editor of the newspaper, told CNN.
This work of introspection comes as the United States has been reflecting since the spring on its past of racism and segregation, in the midst of a wave of historic protest against discrimination.
Mike Fannin signed a long editorial on Sunday in which he told “the story of a powerful local company that has done harm”.
“For 140 years, this company has been one of the most influential forces to shape Kansas City and its region. And yet for a long time, at the beginning of its history (…), it dismissed, ignored and despised generations of black residents, ”he wrote.
The newspaper, which has a largely white readership, published a series of six surveys on Sunday. They show coverage that for years ignored the region’s black minority, except when its members were accused of crimes.
For example, it was not until the death of Charlie Parker in 1955 that the daily really wrote about this jazz legend, a native of Kansas City. But he was only allowed four obituary paragraphs in the diary, which scratched his name and was mistaken about his age.
In 1977, the Star also focused on the flood damage to white businesses, rather than the 25 dead from the disaster, including eight African Americans.
This discrimination led to a “lack of trust and credibility” of the newspaper within the black community, deplored Mike Fannin.
“We’re definitely not perfect today,” he added. There’s still a lot of work to do, but at least it’s a start. ”