Monday, February 25, 2019

Black woman replaces publisher slammed for KKK editorial

Elicia Dexter (LinkedIn photo)
"A newspaper in a small city in Alabama that drew condemnation over an editorial calling for the Ku Klux Klan to 'ride again' has a new editor and publisher: a 46-year-old black woman," Sarah Mervosh reports for The New York Times.

Goodloe Sutton stepped down from The Democrat-Reporter in Linden on Thursday and handed the reins to Elicia Dexter, a Chicago native who was hired six weeks ago as the weekly's front office clerk. She had recently moved to her father's hometown in nearby Sweet Water, Ala., Mervosh reports.

"Dexter is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in speech communication," Michael Brice-Saddler reports for The Washington Post. "She also received a master’s degree in human services from the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago and a master’s degree in counseling from Argosy University in Virginia."

Dexter told the Post she had planned to quit the paper if nothing changed after the editorial. She said she and Sutton had had an "open and honest" discussion about his comments, and that he offered her the paper on Thursday. "He told Dexter she could carry on the legacy of his family, which has operated the Democrat-Reporter for decades, by taking the paper in a 'new direction,'" Brice-Saddler reports.

"The Democrat-Reporter, which has served Linden since 1879, had been in Mr. Sutton’s family for decades. But the newspaper, which has a circulation of a few thousand, had dwindled to what amounted to a one-man show in recent years," Mervosh reports. The paper received national acclaim in the 1990s for its reporting on a corrupt sheriff, but Linden mayor Charles Moore told the Times that the paper lost its credibility when Sutton's wife Jean died. "She was a very good investigative reporter, and also a real sweet person," Moore said.

Sutton will retain ownership but no longer oversee the paper's daily operations. On Saturday he told the Times that he handed over the paper because of his age, not because of the controversy. He didn't apologize for the editorial, and said that editorials were meant to "upset people, make them take action," Mervosh reports.

Sutton "said he had hoped the editorial would draw attention to corruption in Washington and the FBI, though the editorial did not mention the agency. He said he wrote it 'in irony' to suggest that the 'lowlife' KKK investigate the FBI, which he said he held in even lower regard," Mervosh reports.

Dexter said she didn't agree with invoking the KKK, and said there are "other ways you can talk about cleaning Washington without using that group," Mervosh reports.

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