Monday, March 18, 2019

Black editor, who replaced Alabama publisher who called for KKK to night-ride, steps down after he asserts control

Elecia R. Dexter (Democrat-
Reporter photo via N.Y. Times)
After rural Alabama publisher Goodloe Sutton was widely criticized last month for an editorial calling for the Ku Klux Klan to "night ride again" against Democrats who want to raise taxes, he said he was handing over control to a black woman who had recently been hired as the paper's front office clerk. "The new editor and publisher, Elecia R. Dexter, said she wanted to make the newspaper, The Democrat-Reporter, more reflective of the community it serves in Linden, a small town in western Alabama that is about 59 percent white and 41 percent black," Sarah Mervosh reports for The New York Times. "But now, after only a few weeks, Ms. Dexter has stepped down."

Red marks Linden, in Marengo County
(Wikipedia map)
After supposedly giving Dexter the reins, Sutton continued to assert partial control over the content of the paper, which he still owned. He emailed to local news outlets and advertisers an altered version of the Feb. 28 edition that replaced an article about his retirement with one that defended his editorial and criticized The Montgomery Advertiser for its coverage, Mervosh reports. He also interfered with the March 14 paper, which Dexter said obliged her to put out a press release saying that the edition didn't reflect her "views or thoughts."

Dexter's departure "complicates the future of the weekly newspaper, which was once hailed for its journalism, and reflects the thorny reality that healing from racially hurtful acts is rarely a once-and-done process," Mervosh reports. Dexter told her, "You can be mad at him, but we can’t keep making this about him . . . People like him will exist. That’s just the reality of life. The point is not to give those people all the energy."

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