Friday, November 07, 2008

Daily paper in town with one-third black population ignores election of Obama

In Terrell, Tex., where about a third of the 13,600 residents are African Americans, there was considerable surprise and disappointment Wednesday when The Terrell Tribune, a daily newspaper with a circulation of about 1,900, carried no story on the election of the first black president of the United States.

About 25 residents, who said they had hoped to save the local paper with Obama's victory noted front page, picketed the newspaper's office Thursday," reported Byron Harris of WFAA-TV in Dallas. "Protestors pointed out that on Election Day, the Tribune had printed a John McCain-focused story as their lead story on the front page."

Publisher Bill Jordan, right, told Harris, "We run a newspaper, not a memory book service. We covered the local commissioner's race. We thought that was more important." Jordan declined to be interviewed on camera, and did not reply to a request from The Rural Blog for comment.

Harris reported, "For those who may believe race played a part in the decision, the publisher pointed out that Democrat J.C. Jackson, who was at the center of the main story and who won the race for county commissioner, is an African American. But while there were a few Obama-related stories within the paper, there was no story devoted to the presidential victory." (Read more)

Our search of the newspaper's Web site found no stories with the word "Obama." Another paper in Kaufman County, the 4,200-circulation Kaufman Herald, a weekly in the smaller, county-seat town of Kaufman, ran an 85-word, unbylined story on Obama's election, which noted that McCain got 67 percent of the vote in the county just east-southeast of Dallas.

UPDATE, Nov. 9: The Daily Herald of Sapulpa, Okla., didn't report Obama's victory though "One paragraph on the front page did report the majority of Creek County voted for McCain," reports Krista Flasch of KJRH-TV. "More than a dozen protesters stood in front of the Herald's downtown office Friday morning to get answers from publisher Darren Sumner."

Sumner agreed that the election was a big event, but said the 5,000-circulation, afternoon paper focuses on local news, and that's what readers expect. "I'm sure they read about it (the election) and watched it on TV, or got on the Internet and followed it, as many people did, and knew complete coverage before we were gonna go to press." (Read more) In 2000, Sapulpa was 3.8 percent black, 8,7 percent American Indian and 5.2 percent two or more races. Creek County's census had similar figures.

1 comment:

sporcupine said...

All small-town papers are in the memory-book business. That's why they run photos of so many many births, weddings, luncheons, awards, and ball games.