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News and views from inside the media bubble by Xxxx

REGRET THE SLANTED COVERAGE

It would be hard to beat this notice, published by the Lexington, Ky. Herald- Leader in July 2004: “It has come to the editor’s attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil rights movement. We regret the omission.”

But the Winston-Salem Journal came close on April 19, on the eve of the unveiling of a state historic marker to commemorate Local 22.

“The legacy of the Local 22 union at RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. in the 1940s is as proud as the Journal’s coverage of the union is regrettable,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote.

The editorial went on to say that the union was decertified “after its key organizers were ‘linked’ to communism by sensationalistic reporting in this newspaper, reporting that was based on flimsy evidence.”

The piece also approvingly quotes a verdict by Journal reporter Frank Tursi, who wrote in 1996 that “even by the journalistic standards of the 1940s the newspaper’s coverage was irresponsible, hysterical and just plain shoddy. Reporters crossed the line from being observers to being participants, and the evidence strongly suggests that the publisher (Gordon Gray), whose uncle ran the tobacco company, purposely used his newspaper to bust the union.”

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