Tim Stelloh, NBC News, December 20, 2020
One of the Midwest’s most influential newspapers apologized Sunday for what its top editor described as decades of racist coverage of Kansas City, Missouri.
In a letter to readers, Mike Fannin, who has been The Kansas City Star’s editor since 2008, wrote that the newspaper “disenfranchised, ignored and scorned generations of Black Kansas Citians. It reinforced Jim Crow laws and redlining.”
Fannin pointed to the death May 25 of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the resulting racial justice protest movement — one of the largest in U.S. history — as the spark for what he called an “honest examination of our own past.”
Reporters pored over the newspaper’s archives, compared its coverage with that of local Black newspapers and talked to scholars and community leaders for a six-part package examining the paper’s past.
The reporters were “sickened” by what they found, Fannin wrote — coverage that focused on “criminals living in a crime-laden world” with no mention of the Black community’s aspirations, achievements and milestones.
“In the pages of The Star, when Black people were written about, they were cast primarily as the perpetrators or victims of crime, advancing a toxic narrative,” Fannin said. “Other violence, meantime, was tuned out.”
The newspaper covered military actions overseas but not the bombings of Black families down the street, he said.