The answer is “black and white”. But, why (today, or ever) is inter-racial marriage even a question, Publisher Clark-Johnson?

From Poynter Online – Forums, we find an ‘forum post’ that you have to scroll ‘way’ down the page for [or, click (more…) at the end of this post]:

Black journos group on Arizona Republic photo move
9/9/2004 11:43:54 AM

It features a letter written to the Arizona Republic Publisher dated August 25, 2004. Here is an excerpt:

On June 11, The Arizona Republic ran an A1 story about how more weddings are being held on weekdays. It lead with a young couple who was about to become man and wife. The cover photo showed the young African-American woman in her dress with her godmother in the background. The story jumps to A2 where another photo is found, however, this one is even more compelling. It shows the young bride in her husband’s arms as they both stand under her veil looking to the sky.

We understand that the second picture was scheduled to run on A1, which it should have since it is a great photo. Unfortunately, the photo was moved to A2 because certain top-level editors were allegedly concerned about how readers would view it. You see, the young woman’s new husband is White.

Considering the multicultural image of Gannett, we are confused and disappointed by this decision. Especially in the 21st century.

OK, folks, what are the issues here? If this did occur, what would you have told the editors to do ‘re: the photo placement’? Should editors concern themselves with reader ‘sensitivities’? If yes, is this a ‘sensitivity’ editors should concern themselves with, at all? What has this done to the paper’s image? What can be done to vindicate the paper? What are the chances that the publisher will make a public apology? Should she make a public apology?

I have placed the entire ‘forum’ post here. Since it is a forum post, I fear that it might become hard to find from the link I posted. I just wanted you to see the ‘whole’ letter in order to draw your own opinions. I hope Poynter

Black journos group on Arizona Republic photo move
9/9/2004 11:43:54 AM

August 25, 2004

Sue Clark-Johnson, Publisher
The Arizona Republic
200 E. Van Buren St.
Phoenix, Az. 85004

Dear Ms. Clark-Johnson,

On behalf of the Arizona Association of Black Journalists organization, I would like to share with you our concern and frustration over an incident that recently happened at your newspaper, which was brought to our attention.

On June 11, The Arizona Republic ran an A1 story about how more weddings are being held on weekdays. It lead with a young couple who was about to become man and wife. The cover photo showed the young African-American woman in her dress with her godmother in the background. The story jumps to A2 where another photo is found, however, this one is even more compelling. It shows the young bride in her husband’s arms as they both stand under her veil looking to the sky.

We understand that the second picture was scheduled to run on A1, which it should have since it is a great photo. Unfortunately, the photo was moved to A2 because certain top-level editors were allegedly concerned about how readers would view it. You see, the young woman’s new husband is White.

Considering the multicultural image of Gannett, we are confused and disappointed by this decision. Especially in the 21st century.

There was nothing obscene or negative about the photo. It showed two people in love about to start their life together. It is a picture of a �diverse� couple, two “real people;” something I know the Republic tries to push heavily in its coverage. Unfortunately, it appears that management has problems understanding what diversity and real people mean, on its pages and in its staffing.

We understand that a meeting was held shortly after the incident between the editors who made the decision and editors/staff who were upset with the move. We know that promises were made that decisions like this would not be made again without input from more people. However, this precedent again sends a confusing message. Why should there ever be a discussion as to whether or not art that highlights and promotes the real, diverse community we live in be used or not? If it is a good photo and meets all journalistic and Republic guidelines, why shouldn’t the photographer, photo editor and or design editor be allowed to make the decision on placement like every other photo that appears in the paper?

Unfortunately, issues related to the promotion of diverse readers and the recruitment and retention of multicultural staff is not new at The Arizona Republic. These problems do not appear to be getting better, evident by the exodus of good staff and the difficulty in recruitment of new multicultural individuals. Because of this, The Arizona Republic currently has a national reputation of corporate and cultural insensitivity to people of color.

This ought to be of concern to the paper, because these factors eventually have an affect on profitability. We urge you to not just recognize these real issues, but to do something to change these corporate patterns of behavior. We realize that these complex issues require complex solutions. One would be to tie multicultural staff recruitment and retention to performance evaluations and compensation.

It also appears that all management staff would benefit from intense diversity training. Some of our members are experts in multicultural training and advocacy and would welcome an invitation to have a frank dialogue about these issues with key management staff who want to affect change. This cycle of cultural insensitivity has to change. We no longer can sit on the sidelines and be conscientious observers.

We choose to be a part of the solution.

Sincerely,

Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig
President
Arizona Association of Black Journalists

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