The editor of Missouri's Kansas City Star newspaper is apologizing for decades of racially biased coverage, writing that for much of the Star's early history, "through sins of both commission and omission, it disenfranchised, ignored, and scorned generations of Black Kansas Citians."
In his Sunday article, Mike Fannin decried the role the 140-year-old newspaper played in reinforcing Jim Crow laws and redlining, saying that for "decade after early decade it robbed an entire community of opportunity, dignity, justice, and recognition." It is "well past time for an apology," he added, and the Star's staff acknowledges that "the sins of our past still reverberate today."
Fannin said after the death of George Floyd in May, Star reporters and editors began discussing how the newspaper's past could shape its future, and soon they were examining the Star's coverage of race and the Black community, going back to 1880. They looked at articles, court documents, and minutes of meetings, and "reporters were frequently sickened by what they found — decades of coverage that depicted Black Kansas Citians as criminals living in a crime-laden world."
This hurt the Black community and deprived white readers "of the opportunity to understand the true richness Black citizens brought to Kansas City," Fannin said. The newspaper started changing course about 43 years ago, with a more diverse staff and a different outlook on how to cover stories. Today, the Star is dedicated to ensuring everyone is heard, Fannin declared, with minority voices amplified in the newspaper's pages. "Our history doesn't have to own us," he said. "We are grateful for how far we've come. We are humbled by how far we still have to go."