A Charlottesville newspaper asked community leaders what their hopes for the future were. Everyone interviewed was white.

C-Ville Weeky Editor Laura Longhine has issued a mea culpa for this week’s story that asked community leaders about their hopes for Charlottesville’s future. Everyone interviewed was white.

“Since publication, some readers have rightly called out the fact that none of the respondents in this piece are people of color, and that there are far more men than women represented.

While we reached out to a diverse range of sources, many did not respond to our repeated requests (or said they would get back to us, but didn’t). In a shortened production week due to the holidays, I didn’t notice how skewed the group we ended up with was until it was too late.

While this was meant to be a fairly casual survey (unlike, for instance, our 8/12 anniversary feature), we regret that the responses don’t reflect our entire community.

As editor, I’m particularly sorry to have made such a careless mistake, which is not typical of our sourcing or our work in general, as I would hope any regular readers would recognize. We try hard to elevate marginalized voices and stories, and we will continue to do so.” — C-Ville Weekly Editor Laura Longhine [source: Twitter]

Not one person of color in a story asking community leaders about their hopes for Charlottesville’s future? Given what’s been happening in Charlottesville for the last two years, wouldn’t including perspectives from leaders in the Black community [and other underrepresented communities] be first on the list? A careless mistake? The result of a shortened production week? Sources not calling them back?

When Longhine took the time to write this thoughtful Editor’s Note about the issue in question it never occurred to her that all the community leaders they asked about Charlottesville’s future were white?

In an opinion piece accompanying the cover story that highlighted the slave-owning family history of one of the plaintiffs in the Monument Fund v. Charlottesville lawsuit, which prompted a defamation lawsuit, Longhine took Charlottesville to task for not doing enough:

“In an area that celebrated Lee-Jackson Day until 2015, these are significant signs of change [celebrating Liberation and Freedom Day, County dress code ban on white supremacist imagery]. But they’re also not enough.
Charlottesville is not the same city it was in the 1920s, when influential members of the community were in the KKK, and the Lee and Jackson statues were erected in whites-only parks. Yet, these monuments to the Confederacy and Jim Crow remain the most visible signs of history in downtown Charlottesville.”

Longhine also pointed out that both the subcommittee that killed Delegate Toscano’s bill to allow localities to control their own monuments and the plaintiffs in the Monument Fund v. Charlottesville lawsuit were made up of a “small, all-white group, mostly men.”

“The lawsuit, set to go to trial March 11, hinges on the interpretation of a 1997 state law,” Longhine wrote. “But there’s a broader question at stake: In a city that was 52 percent black at the end of the Civil War, whose war stories do we tell, and who gets to decide?”

Indeed.




Media Opinion People

David McNair View All →

DTM is maintained by Charlottesville journalist David McNair. Got a news item or new listing? Contact me at dsmcnair@gmail.com.

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