Great Minds ......Confidentially Speaking

On Wednesday [9/17] and again on Thursday [9/18],  I pointed out -- in e-mails to Richmond City Press Secretary Tammy Hawley and to City Attorney Allen Jackson, various postings on FaceBook and on this blog -- that Mayor Dwight C. Jones' excuses for not releasing the "confidentiality agreements" he is demanding Richmond City Council members sign in order to be briefed about the CAO's Byron C. Marshall's abrupt departure are bogus: 

" ..... It is absurd to say that an agreement is an attorney-client privileged communication because it was prepared by a lawyer.  If that is all it takes to preclude disclosure of the document, then no contract would be discoverable because they are almost all prepared by lawyers and then communicated to their client."
  • However, your stated rationale for refusing to provide even an unsigned copy of the so-called Confidentiality Agreement and a list of the City Council members who signed it (or did not sign it), raises the question of just who is the client in this matter.
  • Clearly, the client is NOT City Council members individually nor collectively since they did not ask counsel to prepare such a document prior to learning (or not learning) the details of Mr. Marshall's departure from Richmond City Hall and the terms of his buyout package.
  • "Consequently, this document and the information contained therein has already been disclosed to "non-clients."  As I am sure you are aware, Mr. Jackson, disclosure to a third party constitutes a waiver of attorney-client privilege.
  • "The idea that the terms of an executive's employment contract -- in fact, the highest ranking official in Richmond City government -- can be shielded from the public and taxpayers because it is a "personnel matter" is ethically offensive.  This logic might work in private business, but it has no place in public policy.
  • "If the details of employment and the details of the departure from public employment can be shielded, the city could enter into outrageous contracts and never need to reveal what is happening to public money.  

Today [9/19] the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial page published this brilliant editorial (excerpted here): 

" ..... That rumble you hear is the thousands of lawyers across the state laughing their guts out.   Attorney-client privilege does not mean any document drawn up by a lawyer can remain hidden from public view. It covers only a very narrow category of information: information provided (a) by a client (b) to a lawyer (c) for the purposes of obtaining legal advise and counsel. The purpose of privilege is to ensure that, for instance, a defendant in a murder case can tell his lawyer exactly what happened on that fateful night, without having to worry that what he says in confidence will be used against him in court.
What’s more, attorney-client privilege ceases to cover information that is shared with a third party. Since the members of the City Council are not the clients of the lawyer who drew up the confidentiality agreement, they qualify as third parties. So even if the confidentiality agreement had been a privileged communication, it ceased to be the moment it was presented to council members.
The claim that the agreement is a personnel record is equally ludicrous. A confidentiality agreement not to disclose a discussion about an employee is not, itself, a record regarding that employee’s performance — any more than a medical nondisclosure form contains the contents of a blood test. Indeed, it would defeat the entire purpose of a nondisclosure agreement if the agreement contained within it the information that was supposed to be kept secret.
The mayor’s insistence on concealing not only the reasons for Marshall’s departure, but also even the confidentiality agreement he asked members of the City Council to sign, does nothing but fuel suspicion. And the nonsensical reasons he has offered for the secrecy reek of desperation.
In short, this all looks very bad. It’s time for the administration to drop the nonsense and come clean."

Very bad, indeed.

Preacher Mayor Dwight C. Jones Needs to Read His Bible ...

"For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known."  

~  Luke 12:12, King James Version

Mayor Dwight C. Jones and former Richmond CAO Byron C. Marshall must think the citizens of Richmond are a bunch of fools.  I hope that after you read my e-mail correspondence with city officials this week,  you will let your elected representatives know that they need to get their backbones and brains in motion and let Hizzoner know we are not going to let him get away with this.

-----Original Message-----
From: wolfies@aol.com
To: Tammy.Hawley@Richmondgov.com, Allen.L.Jackson@Richmondgov.com
Sent: Wed, Sep 17, 2014 12:25 pm
Subject: Re: FOIA Request ...


Ms. Hawley, Mr. Jackson: 
Iis absurd to say that an agreement is an attorney-client privileged communication because it was prepared by a lawyer.  If that is all it takes to preclude disclosure of the document, then no contract would be discoverable because they are almost all prepared by lawyers and then communicated to their client.

However, your stated rationale for refusing to provide even an unsigned copy of the so-called Confidentiality Agreement and a list of the City Council members who signed it (or did not sign it), raises the question of just who is the client in this matter.  Clearly, the client is NOT City Council members individually nor collectively since they did not ask counsel to prepare such a document prior to learning (or not learning) the details of Mr. Marshall's departure from Richmond City Hall and the terms of his buyout package. 

Consequently, this document and the information contained therein has already been disclosed to "non-clients."  As I am sure you are aware, Mr. Jackson, disclosure to a third party constitutes a waiver of attorney-client privilege.

The idea that the terms of an executive's employment contract -- in fact, the highest ranking official in Richmond City government -- can be shielded from the public and taxpayers because it is a "personnel matter" is ethically offensive.  This logic might work in private business, but it has no place in public policy. If the details of employment and the details of the departure from public employment can be shielded, the city could enter into outrageous contracts and never need to reveal what is happening to public money.  Recall the case of what happened in Bell, California. (http://timelines.latimes.com/bell/).  The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize for their investigations into what was dubbed "Corruption on Steroids," a scandal about a small city "whose leaders paid themselves outsized salaries."

I hope you know that I have no personal issue with either of you.  I know you are simply trying to do your jobs.  Having served as an elected official and as a journalist, I know there are dedicated individuals in government who are truly public servants doing their utmost to safeguard the public's money and trust.  That said, I hope that you will reconsider your decision that the documents I have requested are shielded and not subject to public disclosure. And Mr. Jackson, I ask that you recognize that the public offices -- and not the people who occupy them -- as well as the citizens of Richmond are your real clients.

Meanwhile, Ms. Hawley, I ask that you please provide a copy of the job description for CAO that was in effect prior to 2009 so I can determine what changes were made immediately prior to employing Mr. Marshall.  Additionally, the information you provided in your e-mail of Sept. 4, 2014 concerning Ken Johnson and the compensation he and his company have received from the City of Richmond was "interesting," but non-responsive to my FOIA request.  I look forward to receiving the remaining information from my Sept. 2, 2014 e-mail to your office. 

Respectfully, 
Carol A.O. Wolf
-----Original Message-----
From: Tammy.Hawley@Richmondgov.com
To: wolfies <wolfies@aol.com
Sent: Tue, Sep 16, 2014 5:35 pm
Subject: RE: FOIA Request


Hello Ms. Wolf,
In response to your FOIA request below, please be aware of the following:


1. The requested confidentiality agreements, which were executed by legal counsel and handled under the direction and advise of legal counsel are being withheld under the attorney/client privilege exemption (Va. Code § 3705.1(2)) as well as the personnel record exclusion.

2..  The document is a personnel record not subject to disclosure under the FOIA, Va. Code §§ 2.2-3705.1(1) and 2.2-3705.8(A)(i). The separation agreement itself also provides for confidentiality.

3. All such documents (however many there may be) are personnel records not subject to disclosure under the FOIA, Va. Code §§ 2.2-3705.1(1).

4.  Attached is a copy of the employment agreement and a record of compensation (real and deferred). I have also attached a reproduced copy of the job description for the position of CAO as available on the city's website.


Thanks.


From: wolfies@aol.com [mailto:wolfies@aol.com]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 1:52 PM
To: Hawley, Tammy D. - OPS; Jackson, Allen L. - City Attorney
Subject: FOIA Request
Ms. Hawley: 

Please provide: 

1.)   the names of the City Council members who signed confidentiality agreements with any agent(s) or representative(s) of the City of Richmond concerning the recent resignation of Byron Marshall as CAO;
2.)   any and all documentation that provides the details of the severance package and any and all other financial agreements between Byron Marshall and any agent(s) or representative(s) of the City of Richmond;
3.)  copies of the resume and all other documents Byron Marshall originally submitted when he applied for employment with the City of Richmond and all documents submitted since that verify his education and employment history;
4.)  and copies of all employment agreement(s) between Byron Marshall with any agent(s) or representative(s) of the City of Richmond, including all addendums, job descriptions and duties, including all forms of compensation, real and deferred. 

Respectfully, 
Carol A.O. Wolf

804.972.2156
804.264.8015


THE RICHMOND LISTS

By John R. Butcher
As we have seen, even with the wholesale upward “adjustments” to the pass rates, only eleven of Richmond’s forty-five schools were fully accredited this year (with three schools yet to be determined).  Here is the list:
imageThose “adjustments” saved the bacon of five schools on the math tests:
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On the subject of pretty good high school scores, earned by wholesale dropouts of poorer students, the mainstream Richmond high schools, TJ excepted, show the effect in their awful graduation rates:
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“GCI” is VDOE’s “Graduation and Completion Index;” an 85 is required for full accreditation.

John R. Butcher Tackles the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) in his latest "Cranky" blog posting.

FUN WITH NUMBERS

By John R. Butcher
As I discuss at length elsewhere, VDOE has a secret and byzantine process for transforming pass rates into accreditation scores that are divorced from actual performance. 
One has to wonder why they bother: They write the tests and they can make them as hard or easy as they wish.  Nonetheless, they “adjust” the scores.
They briefly outline the process here.  There’s no way to infer the algorithm from that, but we can compare the “adjusted” scores to the actual scores to get a feel for what’s going on.
Well, to a degree:  There are two English tests but they report only one “adjusted” score.  There’s no straightforward way to compare the actual to “adjusted” numbers.  But they report a single math pass rate for each school.
2013 was the second year of the new, tougher math test, so the three year running average included an old, generally higher, number that boosted many scores.
This year, all three years were under the new test, and the generally increasing math scores mostly eliminated the running average adjustment.  Thus, the “adjustments” were smaller, albeit with the same effect of increasing the number of schools that reached the 70% “adjusted” pass rate.
image
The average boost was 2.8%; the maximum, 29%.
Notice how the number of schools with scores below the magic 70% decreased while the number with scores >70% increased:
image
Indeed, 1245 schools scored 70% or more but, after the “adjustments,” 1372 schools made the 70% cutoff.
Caveat: VDOE reported math pass rates at fifteen schools for which they did not report “adjusted” scores; they reported “adjusted” scores for fifty schools for which they reported no pass rate.  I deleted all sixty-five of those schools from the analysis above.
This post already is too long.  I’ll do the Richmond scores tomorrow.

The Scores! A School-By-School Breakdown ...

(Bravo to John R. Butcher and his CrankyBlog for all his hard work crunching the latest SOL Scores! Check back later for more news and analysis of what City of Richmond School Board and RPS Superintendent Dana Bedden intend to do to combat these scores.)

Here is a first look at the 2014 test scores by school.  I’ve included a five year period to provide some context for the effect of the new math test in 2012 and the new reading test in 2013, both of which reduced the statewide average scores and torpedoed the Richmond scores. The tables are sorted by decreasing 2014 scores. 

First, reading.  
(Elementary, then middle, then high schools.)
image
image
image
I’ve listed Richmond Alternative with the middle schools although it could as well be listed as a high school.  Here are the 2014 memberships at Alternative:
 image
Note the plunge in Alternative’s scores between ‘13 and ‘14.  Among the middle schools, note King and Henderson wrestling for last place.
I included Franklin with the high schools although it also is a middle/high school hybrid:
image
It’s probably not fair to compare either of those schools directly to its listed peers.
Now, math.
image
image
image
Looks like there is a fine math department 
(and a not-so-fine) English program at Marshall.

What Do the Latest SOL Scores (Really) Mean for Richmond?


SOL SCORES: OUT OF THE BASEMENT (BARELY)


VDOE released the 2014 test scores this morning, both in their (very convenient) database and in spreadsheets linked from a press release).  They had the scores in time to decide who could graduate last May but they waited until five days before Labor Day to release them.  Do you wonder what they have been doing with those numbers for those three months?  Look here and here here for some ideas.
Turning to the scores.  You may recall that the new reading tests in 2013 dropped the scores statewide and dropped Richmond to the lowest score in the state.  This year, Richmond moved up toward the state average by three points and advanced from dead last to next to last:
image
image
By golly!  We beat Petersburg!
On the math tests, the new tests in 2012 produced another statewide drop and a plunge in the Richmond scores.  This year, Richmond advanced from fourth to fifth from the bottom, 0.6% behind Petersburg:
image
image
At this rate, Richmond will reach the median on both subjects in a mere sixty-six years.
Hyperbole aside, Superintendent Bedden has been in the saddle only since January.  These awful scores are actually the residue of the Brandon “leadership.”  Next year will be the first test of the new School Board and the newer Superintendent.
Stay tuned for an analysis of the residue of Richmond’s (former) cheating on the VGLA.

Students from Low-Income Families Have High College Aspirations, Report Finds

Nearly all ACT-tested students from low-income families in the United States aspire to go to college—at an even higher rate than students overall—but many lack the academic preparation to reach this goal, according to new report released today by ACT and the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP).
While 95 percent of ACT-tested students from low-income families said they wish to pursue some type of postsecondary education—compared to about 87 percent of all tested graduates—only 59 percent of those students immediately enrolled in postsecondary education after graduating from high school, compared to 71 percent of all students.
The findings in the report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013: Students from Low-Income Familiesfocus on student progress relative to college readiness measurements based on the 54 percent of the 2013 graduating class who took the ACT® college readiness assessment. Students who report a family income of less than $36,000 per year are classified as low income for the purposes of this report.
The research shows that only 69 percent of ACT-tested students from low-income families took a recommended core curriculum in high school, compared to 84 percent of students from high-income families. ACT defines the core curriculum as four years of English and three years each of mathematics, social studies and science.
“This report underscores the disconnect between students’ plans for their educational future and their preparation to put those plans in action,” said Scott Montgomery, ACT vice president for policy, advocacy and government relations. “There’s great room for improvement and an urgent need for reducing the barriers faced by students from low-income families.”
According to the research only 20 percent of students from low-income families met at least three of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, compared to 62 percent of students from high-income families (defined as family income of more than $100,000 per year). In addition, nearly half (49 percent) of students from low-income families met none of the benchmarks.
The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are scores on the ACT subject area tests (English, mathematics, reading and science) that represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher, or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher, in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses.
“Students from low-income families have the aspiration and drive to make it to and through college, but they need to be met with supports and the tools to succeed,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, president and chief executive officer of NCCEP. “College access programs such as the federal GEAR UP program provide research-based interventions to help ensure high-needs students meet key benchmarks and are not left behind.”
The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships will feature this report at the NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference, July 20-23, 2014, in Washington, D.C.
The report uses data from approximately 1.8 million ACT-tested high school graduates from the U.S. class of 2013. Of those, 428,549 identified themselves as being from low-income families. During ACT registration, students are asked to provide information about family income, high-school course taking and postsecondary aspirations.
The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013, Students from Low-Income Families report can be viewed and downloaded for free on the ACT website at: http://corp.inetu.act.org/newsroom/data/2013/states/lowincome.html

Newspapers and the Civil Rights Movement: 1954-1957

Reposted with permission of David R. Davies
In the early postwar years newspapers struggled with a challenging, continuing news story--black Americans' civil rights struggle in the years before and after the United States Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. The civil rights story revealed newspapers' profound difficulty in covering social upheaval. Reporters and editors were as slow to come to terms with the civil rights story as they had been with television, print journalism's other continuing challenge of the 1950s. The complicated story of long-term societal change would eventually strain relations between Northern and Southern editors, exacerbate journalists' questions about objectivity, and sharpen newspapers' competition with television news. Moreover, newspapers' treatment of black Americans in their news pages highlighted the print medium's resistance to change. Desegregation would indeed prove a difficult story to tell.

Before the Supreme Court transformed desegregation into a national imperative, black Americans had long been virtually invisible in the pages of the nation's daily press. By and large, blacks were not mentioned in most white-owned newspapers unless they committed a crime or died a violent death. On the rare occasions when blacks did merit a mention in the newspaper, they were further identified by race, and in many journals "black news" was segregated from "white news." In the late 1940s and early 1950s, however, journalists' treatment of blacks had begun to improve by degrees.
In the early postwar years, some newspapers had retreated from their policy of identifying blacks by race in news articles, and a few had even begun to use courtesy titles. This development was in response to the pleas of black leaders, who believed that racial identification of blacks in crime stories had hurt the public image of the entire black race.(1)

The New York Times had announced a new policy of omitting racial designations in an editorial August 11, 1946. "This may seem like a small thing," theTimes' editorialist wrote. "The Negroes don't think so." The Times, echoing the complaints of black leaders, said that racial designations, particularly in crime articles, increased ill will toward blacks. "The press, we believe, has a special and heavy responsibility, not merely editorially . . . but in its treatment of news." The Times' policy was not to refer to race unless doing so would serve a legitimate purpose, as in articles about a race riot or the search for a suspect in a crime. The new policy was enough of a departure from standard newspaper procedure to attract coverage by Time magazine.(2)Members of the Sulzberger family, owners of the Times, were sensitive to ethnic labels and rigidly enforced the newspaper's policy. Once, for example, after a reader complained to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger that the Times had referred to Lena Horne as a "Negro singer," the publisher demanded an explanation from executive editor Turner Catledge.(3)

A 1952 survey of thirty-four Deep South dailies by the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger found that only half were using courtesy titles for blacks or running regular columns or pages of black news. Still, that represented progress. The Ledger's Robert W. Brown said the figures reflected "a significant change in [the] attitude of the press toward the Negro in the last decade."(4) By 1955, NAACP executive secretary Walter White believed that newspapers were becoming increasingly mature in their treatment of racial matters. "In 1955 a majority of American newspapers were presenting news about Negroes and other racial minorities, unfavorable and favorable, without racial tags," White observed.(5)

But a report on Southern newspapers' coverage of racial news released in 1949 by the Southern Regional Council (SRC), a biracial group of educators based in Atlanta, gave Southern newspapers mixed reviews. "The past ten years have seen a marked improvement in the coverage of racial news by Southern newspapers," the report said. Still, while the Southern press was largely free of the race-baiting common in previous decades, the Council reported, blacks continued to be ignored in most newspapers unless they committed a crime against a white. And many newspapers persisted in inequitable treatment of news of the two races.(6)

"North and South, most newspapers are consistently cruel to the colored man," observed the 1946-47 class of Harvard University's Nieman fellows--nine veteran reporters from around the country--in a 1947 book, Your Newspaper. "As pictured in many newspapers, the Negro is either an entertaining fool, a dangerous animal, or (on the comparatively rare occasions when a Negro's achievements are applauded) a prodigy of astonishing attainments, considering his race."(7) More often, blacks were simply ignored. Simeon Booker of Jet--a black-oriented magazine--in 1955 examined the numerous daily newspapers Jet received and found that most in both North and South included no obituaries or local social, civic, church, and business news about blacks. "It is shocking to appraise the sum total of so-called Negro news," Booker concluded.(8)

Even at liberal newspapers such as the Washington Post, black news did not rate publication. Ben Bradlee, later the Post's managing editor, had just begun work at the newspaper in 1948 when he volunteered to cover a crime he had heard about on the police radio. "Naw," the night city editor told Bradlee, "that's black." At the Post as at other newspapers, Bradlee recalled, "Incidents were routinely not covered because they involved blacks."(9)

"[T]he only time a black man ever got in the paper was if he were in trouble," recalled Ira B. Harkey, Jr., the editor and publisher of the Pascagoula (Miss.) Chronicle from 1948 to 1963. "He'd been arrested for something, he'd been accused of something, he'd been executed, he was being searched for as a fugitive. Particularly in the smaller newspapers, there was never a positive story about a black--blacks winning honors, graduating from school, getting scholarships and so on, nothing of that sort appeared in the newspapers." Such policies applied at most daily newspapers in cities both large and small, North and South. At the New Orleans Times-Picayune, where Harkey worked before and after World War II, photographers had standing instructions not to publish pictures of minorities. "If there was a crowd shot, and black faces were here or there," Harkey recalled, "they would be cut out or they would be airbrushed out or airbrushed white."(10)

Harkey, like a few other liberal and moderate Southern editors, challenged some of the prevailing newspaper practices regarding race during his ownership of the Pascagoula Chronicle. Harkey's egalitarian ideals held that blacks and whites should be treated equitably, and he applied that philosophy to his newspaper. After Harkey bought theChronicle, the newspaper began covering more news of the black community and dropped the practice of separating black news from white news. Harkey gradually began to give the courtesy title "Mrs." to some prominent black women, and, without telling even his staff, he dropped the Negro tag in virtually all news articles. The policy went unnoticed by the public until a local father was charged with beating his four-year-old stepson in 1950, and Harkey's stories about the crime were picked up by the wire services. Sympathetic letters flooded the local police and the victim's home until an Associated Press photographer obtained a picture of the boy, who was black. The show of sympathy halted immediately, and some readers were chagrined. "If you have to write about niggers," one reader told Harkey, "call 'em niggers right up at the top so I don't waste my time reading about 'em." Throughout the 1950s, Harkey unsuccessfully urged his colleagues in the Mississippi press to drop racial tags.(11)

The few Southern newspapers that did print black news often segregated it on special pages, as the Pascagoula Chronicle had done before Harkey bought it, or relegated it to "colored editions" delivered only to black neighborhoods. The St. Petersburg Times, for example, started its "Negro makeover" page in 1939, remaking one newspaper page a week of black news in editions distributed only in black neighborhoods. The special page, printed daily beginning in 1948, was defended on the ground that it gave blacks a dignity not afforded them elsewhere.(12) Such "Negro editions" were not uncommon. The Montgomery Advertiser and the Alabama Journal each published separate editions for blacks for more than thirty years, finally discontinuing them in the 1960s because they were too costly to produce.(13)

An important factor in newspapers' coverage of racial news was the racial makeup of daily newspapers: Most journals had virtually all-white staffs. Blacks were rare in both newsrooms and in journalism organizations, though black reporters made a few important inroads into print journalism in the early postwar years. The Nieman program at Harvard University, one of the journalism profession's most prestigious fellowships, selected its first black Nieman fellow, Fletcher Martin of the weekly Louisville (Ky.)Defender, in 1946. The following year the United States Senate press gallery admitted its first black reporter, Louis R. Lautier of the Atlanta World, then the nation's only black daily. The Standing Committee of Correspondents had denied Lautier admittance because he also worked for a black press association, and committee rules required reporters to work exclusively for a daily newspaper. The Senate Rules Committee overruled the correspondents and admitted Lautier anyway. However, the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE)--the nation's most influential organization of newspaper editors--remained all-white well into the 1950s. Society officials said the scarcity of black daily newspapers had limited blacks' opportunity for membership in the group. ASNE members reported in 1955 that no black had ever even applied for admission to the organization. A.M. Piper of the Council Bluffs (Iowa) Nonpareil, an ASNE veteran, said he'd never seen a black editor at the society's annual convention.(14)

But black reporters made inroads at a few newspapers in the 1950s. The Milwaukee Journal hired its first black reporter, Bob Teague, a former star halfback at the University of Wisconsin, to cover sports beginning in 1950. But the newspaper's city desk did not hire a black worker until 1963.(15) Unusual among Southern dailies, the St. Petersburg Times hired a full-time black reporter, Calvin Adams, in 1951 and even took the dramatic step of integrating both the drinking fountains and the restrooms in the Timesnewsroom.(16) The Detroit Free Press hired Collins George, formerly of the black weekly the Pittsburgh Courier, as the newspaper's first black reporter in 1955.(17)Fletcher Martin, the first black Nieman fellow, began work at the Chicago Sun-Times in the early 1950s after being turned down by the Louisville Courier-Journal, whose city editor had told Martin that the all-white staff would never tolerate a black reporter.(18)By the mid-1950s, black journalists were working at the Denver Post, the Fort Wayne(Ind.) News-Sentinel, the Toledo Blade, the Minneapolis Tribune, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Portland Oregonian, three newspapers in Chicago, two newspapers in New York, and at two of Cleveland's three dailies. But in all, just twenty-one black reporters were at work on white-owned daily newspapers in 1955, according to a study by researchers at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. The pioneering black journalists were concentrated at newspapers in the Northeast and Midwest. It would be years before blacks would enter newsrooms in significant numbers.(19)

Despite their thin ranks, black reporters attracted notice for their pioneering coverage of desegregation. Carl T. Rowan of the Minneapolis Tribune, for example, won wide praise for a three-week series of articles he wrote about the South in 1951. Ted Poston of theNew York Post, George Brown of the Denver Post, and William Brower of the Toledo Blade also did ground-breaking work in the South.(20) But the strain of covering segregation took a heavy toll on some of these journalists, such as Simeon Booker, hired in 1952 by the Washington Post as the first black reporter at a capital city daily. "God knows I tried to succeed at the Post," Booker recalled. "I struggled so hard that friends thought I was dying, I looked so fatigued. After a year and a half I had to give up. Trying to cover news in a city where even animal cemeteries were segregated overwhelmed me." Booker quit the Post in 1953 and went to work for Jet.(21)

The United States Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 pushed newspapers into writing more about blacks and about desegregation. The Browncase, a consolidation of school desegregation lawsuits in Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware, struck down segregation in public schools as unconstitutional. Segregation, the court found, violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The 1954 Supreme Court decision, coupled with the court's 1955 decision ordering desegregation to proceed "with all deliberate speed," transformed race relations and school desegregation into one of the most important running news stories of the postwar years.(22) School desegregation, as one veteran Southern editor observed in 1955, was "the biggest regional story of the century."(23)

A few of the nation's leading newspapers responded admirably to the challenge of covering desegregation, devoting considerable attention and resources to this complex and continuing story. In breadth and depth of coverage of civil rights, the New York Times was the undisputed leader among newspapers. The Times covered the Browndecision in detail from the beginning, publishing ten pages of background and interpretive material on the day of the decision. In 1955, executive editor Catledge dispatched a team of ten Times reporters to fan out across the South on a five-week survey of desegregation efforts in seventeen Deep South and border states and the District of Columbia.(24) The Times both undertook extensive efforts to explain theBrown decision and supported the decision editorially. "No driving force has been more consistent and insistent in beating the tom-tom for the rights of this black minority than the New York Times," the Chicago Defender wrote of the years after Brown.(25)

The Times had first assigned a correspondent to cover the South in 1947, when Catledge, a Mississippi native, had tapped Virginia-born John N. Popham to report on the tremendous social change brewing in the region. Popham quickly established himself as the premier journalistic authority on the South. "There was hardly a cow patch or a shade-tree mechanic below the Mason-Dixon line he did not know or a mayor or sheriff who did not know him, his Jim Dandy hat, and his extraordinary Tidewater Virginia accent," recalled Popham's colleague at the Times, Harrison E. Salisbury.(26) On his rounds Popham met with black leaders, college professors, and moderate Southern editors, from whom he received what he described as "interpretive help."(27)

Popham's reputation for hard work and fairness was legendary among newspaper reporters. After his hiring in 1947, Popham set up shop in the Hotel Patten, near the office of the Chattanooga Times, also owned by the Sulzberger family. He bought a Dodge coupe, paid for with deductions against his Times paycheck, and began a long series of travels across the South, putting 40,000 to 50,000 miles a year on his car. "By now," he wrote Catledge after years of travel, "every hotel clerk in the South knows me personally." His reporting won him both praise and awards. In 1953 he was named the South's most outstanding journalist by Sigma Delta Chi, now the Society of Professional Journalists. Colleagues admired his writing's emphasis on the complicated background of Southern racial strife. "I have a deep love and regard for the South, my people were in on the founding of it in 1607, and I assure you that I never approach an assignment without a measure of diplomacy," Popham wrote to Catledge in 1952.

"I'll always do my best," he added, "to give you good coverage in the fullest sense."(28) Popham worked at the New York Times until 1958, when he left to become executive editor of theChattanooga Times. His replacement was Claude F. Sitton, a New York Times copy reader and former wire service reporter whose reputation on the civil rights beat in the 1960s would rival Popham's.(29)

Just as the Times' coverage was a model for newspapers around the country, so too was the reporting of the Southern School News, the monthly newspaper of the Southern Education Reporting Service (SERS) in Nashville. SERS was founded in 1954 by a group of Southern newspaper editors, as the News once put it, "to tell the story, factually and objectively, of what happens in education as a result of the Supreme Court ruling that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional." Correspondents from Southern and border states provided reports to the News, which quickly developed a monthly circulation of 30,000 among educators, journalists, public officials, and libraries. The newspaper included detailed monthly reports on desegregation issues in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its correspondents were reporters from the larger dailies in each state. The News and SERS provided journalists across the nation with a clearinghouse for unbiased accounts of desegregation-related developments, serving as both a resource and a model. In addition, scores of journalists, both print and broadcast, used the service's extensive library.(30)

But while the New York Times and the SERS led the way in desegregation coverage, the vast majority of other daily newspapers followed far behind. In both the quality of their news coverage and the vitality of their editorial leadership, many daily newspapers were lacking. Newspaper editors in both South and North reflected the biases of white society and of their readership in racial matters. "Most of the press, no less than most of the politicians, responded miserably," recalled Mississippi editor Hodding Carter II of the years before and after the Supreme Court's desegregation decisions. "For many editors and publishers the response was honest: they shared the values of the land they inhabited and felt it was their duty to reflect them."(31) J. Oliver Emmerich, veteran editor of theMcComb (Miss.) Enterprise-Journal, recalled that it was difficult for most editors to see Southern treatment of blacks as wrong. "The prejudices were recognized as traditions and not as prejudices," Emmerich said. "It was very difficult for some editors even to grasp."(32)

James McBride Dabbs, longtime director of the Southern Regional Council, said Southern newspapers' bias was to be expected. "Local newspapers, with exceptions so small as to be negligible, are owned, published and edited by Southern whites," Dabbs once wrote. "Their subscribers are white; their advertisers are white. Is it not going a little far to expect complete objectivity and candor of a white Southern editor in discussing the duties of his subscribers and advertisers to members of a race that brings him no bread and butter?"(33)

To their credit, at least, newspapers both North and South spoke out against violence. The unanimity of Southern press sentiment was demonstrated in a pamphlet entitled "The South Speaks Out," a compilation of Southern editorial sentiment published in 1958 by national religious groups. The purpose of the publication was to demonstrate that while lawlessness in response to Brown had received national attention, most Southerners--and virtually all Southern newspapers--opposed violence whatever their reaction to Brown. The pamphlet reprinted editorials from across the South opposing race-related violence. "The Southern press," the pamphlet's compilers asserted, "accurately mirrors the sentiments and firm convictions of millions of Southerners that civil order and obedience to law are supreme values overriding any subsidiary issues."(34)
But beyond an opposition to violence, most of the nation's daily newspapers had been slow to exercise editorial leadership on the race issue. Time magazine's media correspondent concluded in 1956 that, with a few exceptions, Southern newspapers in particular were doing "a patchy, pussyfooting job of covering the region's biggest running story since slavery."(35) Jere Moore, editor of the weekly Union Register in Milledgeville, Georgia, said newspapers had failed to exercise much leadership. "They have been weak-kneed when they should have been strong," Moore said.(36)

Southern newspapers were indeed offering little support for the law of the land, in sharp contrast to the enthusiastic support offered by Northern dailies, the black weeklies, and the nation's one black daily, the Atlanta World. Of the thirty largest dailies in the South and border states, the SERS concluded in 1957, all were hostile to Brown except for a dozen in the border states of Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. "Once away from the border states," the SERS found, "no single large newspaper has emerged as enthusiastically integrationist." However, a few large and influential newspapers, such as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Louisville Courier-Journal, had urged compliance with Brown. Others, such as the Nashville Tennessean and Carter's Delta Democrat-Times, had favored gradual integration.(37)

Reed Sarratt, a Southern editor and astute student of the press who had worked for the SERS, believed that in covering desegregation, public opinion molded newspaper opinion, not vice versa. In the 1950s, Sarratt recalled, "most editors were looking over their shoulders to see who was following them." Thus, opposition to Brown tended to be most heated in the newspapers of Deep South, staunchly segregationist states. As Sarratt summarized Southern newspapers' editorial stance by region,
The general pattern is clear. In the border area, where the Supreme Court decision was widely accepted, the major newspapers supported the ruling and urged compliance. Around the outer fringe of the eleven Southern states, public reaction was to recognize the authority of the Court but to hold compliance to a minimum; this was the position taken by most newspapers in these states. In the Deep South the controlling whites denounced the decision and resolutely resisted compliance; the majority of newspapers were in tune with this point of view.(38)

The South had some, but not many, moderate or liberal newspaper editors. Harry S. Ashmore, editor of the Charlotte (N.C.) News in the late 1940s and the Arkansas Gazette in the 1950s, two moderate newspapers, recalled that there were fewer than a dozen Southern newspapers that were liberal in racial matters in these years.(39)Hodding Carter, for thirty years the editor of the Delta Democrat-Times in Greenville, Mississippi, said Southern newspapers reflected the conformist attitudes of the towns and small cities of the South, a factor that diminished the number of Southern moderates and liberals.(40) The few moderates and liberals did not necessarily favor integration; they were simply more likely to favor obeying the law of the land in the Supreme Court's decision or to favor equal treatment of black citizens. The South, as Carter once wrote, was the "only place in the western world where a man could become a liberal simply by urging obedience to the law."(41)

The few outspoken editors who favored upholding the law were vilified in the South but honored by their peers in journalism. In the ten years after 1954, six of the Pulitzer Prizes in editorial writing went to Southern editors who took a stand for moderation during desegregation crises in their communities. The prizes went to Buford Boone of the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News in 1957; to Harry S. Ashmore of the Arkansas Gazette in 1958; to Ralph McGill of the Atlanta Constitution in 1959; to Lenoir Chambers of theNorfolk Virginian-Pilot in 1960; to Ira B. Harkey, Jr., of the Pascagoula Chronicle in 1963; and to Hazel Brannon Smith of the Lexington (Miss.) Advertiser in 1964. These and other moderate editors--such as Mississippi's Carter--often provided the only voices of reason during the backlash of massive resistance following Brown. "The whole state was so racist that I was totally surrounded by people who didn't believe what I believed," recalled John Herbers, who worked for the Jackson, Mississippi, bureau of the United Press in the 1950s. "They were backed up by tradition, religion, and the law. I'd get up every morning and ask myself, `Is there something wrong with me?' I'd think I was crazy, and I'd see people like Hodding and know the real world was out there . . . If it hadn't been for him I would have left. He gave us hope."(42)
The vast majority of newspapers in Southern states, however, opposed Brown; the South Carolina and Virginia press were typical. Andrew McDowd Secrest, editor of the weeklyCheraw (S.C.) Chronicle in the 1950s, believed that editorially, the South Carolina press was ineffectual in racial matters in these years. "The press as a whole was at best irrelevant in the struggle for equal rights in South Carolina and, at worst, an exacerbating, agitating element in the situation," recalled Secrest, who subscribed to or exchanged papers with all of the state's major weeklies and dailies in the 1950s and 1960s. "Its repeated calls for `law and order' were usually overshadowed by the more insistent theme of resistance to so-called Negro `agitation' and federal intervention with the `sovereign rights' of the states. The treatment by the leading newspapers of racial issues and related problems amounted to a combination in restraint of trade in new ideas."(43) Secrest and others believed that persistent press opposition to Browndiscouraged racial moderates from speaking out. "There are plenty of sensitive people here, and they can be awakened if the right words are said," one prominent educator wrote to Secrest in 1955. "But they are afraid as yet to say so."(44)

In Virginia, as in South Carolina, most newspapers--like the state's political leadership--bitterly opposed desegregation. James Jackson Kilpatrick, editor of the Richmond News Leader, the state's most influential daily, launched a campaign in 1955 favoring "interposition," a novel but long-discredited legal doctrine that held that a state could reject Supreme Court rulings that trampled upon its rights. "Once state policy pointed toward resistance," longtime Virginia newspaperman Benjamin Muse observed, "nearly all of the press had fallen into line with it."(45) The one exception was the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, whose editor, Lenoir Chambers, while not an integrationist, opposed massive resistance. Chambers believed that Virginia newspapers were decades behind the times in using illogical and emotional arguments against school desegregation. "I do not mind the expression of contrary points of view," Chambers wrote to fellow editor Ashmore in 1958, "but it has astonished me, shocked me, depressed me, to read much of the attempted rationalizing of points of view and the entirely illogical reasoning that is set up. Most of the press of Virginia has been . . . a discouraging spectacle."(46)

As for newspapers' reporting of the civil rights movement, journalists in the 1950s agreed that the desegregation story after Brown was difficult and that the press had a spotty record of covering it. Press coverage generally concentrated on crises of desegregation as opposed to explanations of social change, said Carl E. Lindstrom, longtime editor of the Hartford Times, in 1960. "The desegregation story is as thorny a challenge as the American press has ever faced," Lindstrom observed.(47) C.A. McKnight, the first executive director of SERS, told the 1955 ASNE convention that newspapers had given the desegregation story considerably less coverage than it had deserved in the first year after Brown. In the fifty Southern dailies clipped by SERS, desegregation had received minimal attention. This McKnight attributed to inexperienced and inexpert reporters, editors' fear of offending readers, and a general lack of initiative at newspapers. McKnight said he knew of only three full-time education reporters in the entire country: Popham, Max Gilstrap of the Christian Science Monitor, and Ed Lahey of the Knight newspapers.(48)

Newspapers not only gave too little coverage to the desegregation story, McKnight observed, but what little coverage there was tended to be "unbalanced and frequently distorted." Articles about racial issues often lacked context and emphasized conflict rather than progress, even though many of the earliest desegregation efforts in border states had been successful. "It is my impression that many of our regional newspapers are still looking at the desegregation issue as something apart from the context of a rapidly changing region," McKnight said. The story, he said, deserved better. The "handling of the race problem in the United States is one of the biggest and one of the most important stories of our lifetime," he said. "Is it asking too much to suggest that there is a field for original, enterprising reporting in the months and years after the forthcoming [Supreme] Court decrees in the school desegregation cases?"(49) McKnight told a North Carolina press group in 1955 that newspapers too often concentrated on legal and philosophical questions surrounding school desegregation while ignoring the practical administrative problems it posed.(50)

The volume of desegregation-related articles in Southern newspapers picked up substantially, the SERS reported, after the Supreme Court's 1955 decision ordering desegregation to proceed.(51) A 1960 Southern Regional Council study of five large Southern dailies found that their handling of racial stories was remarkably similar. Their news stories showed little bias or distortion, but newspapers usually relied upon the wire services rather than their own reporters to cover desegregation news. Southern newspapers were ignoring the opportunity to cover and interpret a story in their own backyards, leaving readers with event-centered wire service accounts that offered little interpretation of complicated events. Still, the Council's study concluded, "Southern newspapers generally are doing a conscientious, thorough, and predominantly fair job of reporting racial news. They are conforming more closely to the accepted standards of good journalism than the atmosphere of the times or the charges of their critics would indicate."(52) Numerous other studies in the 1950s and after found that in reporting the bare facts of desegregation, Southern papers were often fair and balanced but displayed little reportorial initiative or editorial daring.(53)

The desegregation story was difficult because it was a complex story of societal change, a long-term process hard to chronicle for event-oriented daily newspapers. As a result, newspapers tended to play up day-to-day desegregation difficulties while overlooking, as McKnight had pointed out, the longer-term successes of desegregation elsewhere. Sam Ragan of the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer complained in 1957, for example, that the Associated Press (AP) had overlooked "something of a social revolution" when three schools in his state had integrated successfully. Peace and progress, he noted, seldom attracted as much journalistic notice as disorder or bloodshed. "Violence--be it in connection with integration or anything else--is always a better story," Ragan told a meeting of the Associated Press Managing Editors. "That is one of the facts of life in newspapers. Peace doesn't seem to be much of a story."(54)
As desegregation efforts increased in the late 1950s, Northern newspapers turned greater attention to the South, prompting an influx of reporters from Northern news organizations into the region. "There are as many Yankee reporters dropping off planes and trains as there were carpetbaggers in the 1860s," complained the segregationist Thomas R. Waring, editor of the Charleston (S.C.) News and Courier, in 1956. The South's leading moderate, Ralph McGill of the Atlanta Constitution, said of the mass of incoming journalists, "It's been like waves beating on a stern and rockbound shore."(55)Sixty reporters were on hand at the University of Alabama riots in 1956. Seventy-five had flocked in 1955 to the Sumner, Mississippi, trial of the men accused of killing fourteen-year-old Emmett Till.(56)

The Till trial had been a turning point in increasing coverage of racial friction in the South. The murder, as journalist David Halberstam has observed, was "the first great media event of the civil rights movement."(57) Reporters, photographers, television cameramen, radio announcers, and newspaper columnists from across the country crowded into tiny Sumner for the trial of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, half-brothers accused of killing young Till. The Chicago youth had been visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, when he had either whistled at or spoken suggestively to a white woman in a grocery. Kidnapped from his uncle's home, Till's body--tied to a cotton-gin fan--was found several days later in the Tallahatchie River. The crush of outside press for the trial of Bryant and Milam prompted the judge, Curtis Swango, to enlist the New York Times' Popham to coordinate press security. "I've got all these reporters coming in--seems like there must be 100 of them--and I've never dealt with anything like this before," Swango told Popham. "I can pledge to you that as far as I can, I'll run a fair and honest trial, but I'd like your help in dealing with the press."(58) Popham complied, stunned at press attention given to a racial story in the region he for years had covered alone. "Never in our region," marveled the Mississippi Sun during the Till trial, "has so much out-of-state interest been taken in a case involving white and negro."(59)

Reporters took over Sumner's only hotel, the Delta Inn, to cover the trial. Popham oversaw press accommodations, obtaining housing for the black reporters in Mound Bayou, an all-black community, and also riding herd on the Northern reporters to ensure they complied with Southern customs, racial and otherwise. Popham once chastised theNew York Post's Murray Kempton, for example, for wearing British walking shorts at dinner.(60) At the trial, reporters sat at segregated tables in the courtroom. Sheriff H.C. Strider had laid down the law to the visiting black journalists; any mixing between black and white reporters would result in ejection from the courtroom. Jet reporter Simeon Booker believed the sheriff's treatment of black reporters was in retaliation for their perceived mistreatment of the South in the news columns.(61) "[T]he Till case was unbelievable," recalled James Hicks of the National Negro Press Association. "I mean, I just didn't get the sense of being in a courtroom." Dan Wakefield of the Nation admitted, "I am not ashamed to confess that I was afraid."(62) At the trial's end, Milam and Bryant were acquitted by an all-white jury.
If the Till trial was the first great media event of the civil rights movement, the largest was the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. The court-approved admission of nine blacks to Central was opposed by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, who called out the Arkansas National Guard, ostensibly to preserve order at the school. Faubus' actions eventually prompted President Dwight D. Eisenhower to nationalize the Arkansas Guard and to enforce integration with federal troops. Only five out-of-town reporters were in Little Rock when Faubus called out the Guard; four weeks later there were 225. Little Rock was "transformed into a kind of giant press room," said NBC reporter John Chancellor.(63)

In covering the Central crisis, reporters faced anger both from Faubus and from the mobs that gathered in front of the school. Faubus was irritated at the pro-integrationArkansas Gazette and believed that its editors were indoctrinating visiting newsmen with prejudice against him. The mobs surrounding the school equated the out-of-town reporters with the enforcement of integration. At various times, members of the mob taunted journalists, called them "nigger lovers," jostled them, and rocked telephone booths when reporters tried to make calls. "Bigots and psychopaths don't like outsiders watching them," reflected Chancellor. "Reporting their activities is sometimes dangerous and always depressing."(64) In all, six white reporters and four blacks were beaten while covering the Central crisis. One burly agitator charged up to Bobby Jones, a slight reporter for the Pine Bluff (Ark.) Commercial, and shouted, "Here's one of those Northern reporters. Let's get him!" The man knocked Jones to the ground. Informed that Jones was an Arkansan, not a Northerner, the assailant turned and walked away. "Oh," he replied. "Sorry."(65)

Scripps-Howard reporter Dickson Preston said that while most reporters had acted with restraint at Little Rock, some "extremists" had acted irresponsibly. On occasion television camera crews had incited crowds to demonstrate for the cameras. And some reporters, such as the New York Times' Benjamin Fine, had appeared openly sympathetic to the nine black students and had angered crowds with pointed questions. "Fine asked the kind of questions that would get anybody's hackles up," Preston said. "He symbolized to Southerners the kind of `Yankee reporting' they dislike."(66) In fact, Fine was sympathetic to integration and had often tangled with crowds. "They hurled insulting remarks and told me to go back North where I came from," Fine reported after one encounter with a mob.(67) A National Guard officer led Fine away and and warned him and other reporters that they would be arrested if they incited violence. Fine's emotional involvement in the desegregation story prompted Times editors to remove him as the newspaper's education editor in late 1957.(68)

At a panel discussion in late 1957 on the press coverage at Central, reporters agreed that journalists had improperly made news by staging pictures and by getting attacked by the mob. Even worse, many reporters--not just Fine--had taken sides. "The Northern newspaper reporter has been definitely tied in with the machinery of enforcing integration," concluded Bob Allison of CBS News.(69) Accordingly, he and other Northern reporters now felt unsafe in the South, whereas before Central reporters had mingled safely in crowds. "Today I feel I am up against a hard wall," Allison said. "Apparently now there is a solidified conviction in the South that the reporter from the North is going to do everything wrong."(70)

Southern resentment against Northern journalists was widespread. Southern editors, particularly those conservative on racial matters, had long resented the influx of Northern reporters covering Southern racial news after Brown. A schism developed among some editors, who divided according to North vs. South and moderate vs. conservative. Southern editors, particularly those who defended Southern racial practices, considered Northern newspapers as overplaying Southern racial strife while ignoring Northern racial problems. Southerners also resented many Northern editors' agreement with the Supreme Court's decision that segregation was inherently unequal and unjust. This North vs. South dispute was evident in public feuds between editors and in spirited, sometimes heated debates at editors' meetings.(71)

Tempers flared at the 1956 ASNE meeting when Southern editors took the floor to complain about Northern reporters during a panel discussion on the difficulties of covering integration. "[D]own in our part of the country we wish you Northerners would ease up just a little bit on the pressure," admonished the Texarkana (Tex.) Gazette's J.Q. Mahaffey. He charged that Northern editors habitually ignored or downplayed their own racial disturbances and racial disputes, a charge that prompted a spirited denial from a contingent of Chicago journalists. Then Harry M. Ayers of the Anniston (Ala.) Star took the floor to defend segregation and to lament the alleged inferiority of blacks, but he was cut off as he was about to undertake a forceful denunciation of racial intermarriage. "The consuming desire of every Negro is to possess a white woman," Ayers declared in what turned out to be his closing remark, which prompted, observers said, a collective shudder from the assembled editors. The day's discussion concluded with editors agreeing that newspapers were adequately covering breaking developments about integration but failing to explain much beyond that. "Our sins, as always, are those of apathy and provinciality, rather than venality," said Forrest W. Seymour of the Worcester(Mass.) Telegram and Gazette.(72)

The most outspoken Southern opponents of Southern race coverage were Waring, of theCharleston News and Courier, and Grover C. Hall, Jr., of the Montgomery Advertiser. Waring declared in speeches and articles that the Northern press was printing propaganda, writing in Harper's in 1956 that "the metropolitan press without exception has abandoned fair and objective reporting of the race story."(73) Hall, a moderate in racial matters, was nonetheless so offended at a New York Post reporter's coverage of race relations in Montgomery that he challenged Post editor James Wechsler in 1956 to provide him with a guided tour of New York for a profile of that city's race relations. Wechsler declined.(74)

In Mississippi, state officials were so convinced of the bias of most Northern accounts that they invited a group of twenty New England editors to Mississippi in 1956 to view the state's race relations firsthand. The weeklong visit was arranged and partially financed by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, the state agency formed to fight desegregation efforts.(75)The segregation story proved especially vexing for the wire services, which served both Northern and Southern newspapers, whose editors were always scanning the wires for evidence of bias. So many Southern editors complained that the wire services were overplaying Southern racial problems that both the United Press and Associated Press assigned reporters on several occasions to cover race problems outside of the South. At the urging of Southern editors, the United Press agreed in 1958 to send a Georgia-born correspondent to assess school segregation problems in the North. The correspondent, Al Kuettner, wrote a series called "A Southerner Looks at New York Schools," which highlighted racial friction in response to school integration.(76) Similarly, the Associated Press in 1956 had assigned a staffer to survey Northern racial difficulties. His 1,800-word piece was widely used by member newspapers. The piece was part of a conscious attempt by the wire service to cover the explosive topic of desegregation as neutrally as possible. "It is the committee's view," the AP's Domestic News Committee concluded in 1956, "that in this situation the AP walked reasonably straight along the Mason-Dixon line."(77)

Editors in both North and South wanted the wire services to cover racial problems outside their region, on the assumption that racial problems in the other fellow's territory were being downplayed. A Southern-born AP reporter who had worked during the 1950s in bureaus in Jackson, Mississippi, and Little Rock, Arkansas, grew increasingly exasperated at the conflicting demands of AP member newspapers. Each time he had filed a story involving race from Jackson or Little Rock, the correspondent recalled, Northern editors telephoned him to complain that he had failed to tell the entire story and that he was imposing a white supremacist interpretation on his account. After transferring to an AP bureau in the North, the same correspondent was subject to complaints from Southern editors. "The whole process is reversed up here," the correspondent complained to his superiors in 1957. "Now some of my Southern brethren think every once in a while that we're covering up here, which leads me to this conclusion: If the newspapers in both sections would concentrate more on objectivity instead of making us--the AP--prove that the Negro is treated worse in a different section than he is in their own backyard, all of us would be better off."(78)

Editor & Publisher noted with dismay the emotional dispute over desegregation coverage. "[W]e have rarely seen the heat that is now being generated between editors of two sections of the country over the desegregation issue," editor Robert U. Brown observed in 1955, after the trial in the Till case.(79) Northern and Southern differences, a 1957 editorial said, were compounded by the rise of interpretive reporting and by the intense emotionalism evident on both sides. The two camps should recognize the differences in their points of view and desist from name-calling. "We do not condone this situation," Editor & Publisher's editorialist wrote. "Neither side helps its own case by charging the other with errors."(80)

The civil rights story, beginning especially with Central High, also marked the coming of age of the newsgathering capabilities of television news reporters. Television covered the crisis extensively, sometimes with live broadcasts and with dramatic pictures of high impact. "The thing about Little Rock is that it was where television reporting came to influence, if not to maturity," recalled Harry Reasoner, who covered Central as a young reporter for CBS News. "You could not hide from news as delineated by TV."(81) Even to some of the print reporters, such as Wallace Westfeldt of the Nashville Tennessean, it seemed that the new medium might have outperformed print for the first time.(82) The civil rights movement, as former New York Times television critic Peter J. Boyer once observed, was "the first running story of national importance that television fully covered. . . . Television brought home to the nation the civil rights struggle in vivid images that were difficult to ignore, and for television, it was a story that finally proved the value of TV news gathering as opposed to mere news dissemination."(83)

But both television and print reporters fell short at Central, as they had in other civil rights news stories of the 1950s. "The cowboy reporters rode in to the scent of blood,"Arkansas Gazette editor Harry Ashmore recalled in a 1958 speech. The reporters had failed to consider the broader picture of social change in Little Rock and in the South, he said. Reporters had been too concerned with "the sound and the fury on the surface." They had ignored the failure of national leadership before the crisis and its contribution to the rise of extremists afterward. "I think we have got to get over the notion that objectivity means giving a villain equal space with a saint--and above all of paying the greatest attention to those who shout the loudest," Ashmore said. "We've got to learn that a set of indisputable facts do not necessarily add up to truth."(84)
Facing the challenges of both television and of covering rapid social change, newspapers had struggled to adapt. Both challenges increased in the 1950s, and both pointed out the slowness with which newspapers and print journalists responded to change. By decade's end, with the civil rights movement picking up momentum and television growing in influence, newspapers had begun to adjust or at least had recognized their deficiencies. But the process of change was slow, as contrasted with the rapid shift of the media environment. While the rise of television and a shifting social landscape were newspapers' biggest challenges in the mid-1950s, other trends were simultaneously shaping the newspapers in ways that were becoming increasingly clear by decade's end. Observing the wide range of emerging newspaper problems, Barry Bingham of the Louisville Courier-Journal observed in 1959 that newspapers were in crisis. "I think journalism is in the grip of a process that is painful to every human being: the necessity to change," Bingham said.(85)


1. "Dailies' Cooperation Asked in Solving Negro Problem," Editor & Publisher, 4 August 1945, 7; Robert B. Eleazer, "Churchman Sees Peril in `Negro' Headlines," Editor & Publisher, 27 December 1947, 24. Pressure for the elimination of identification by race had also come from white churches.
2. "Race in the News," New York Times, 11 August 1946, 8E; "Answer," Time, 19 August 1946, 60.
3. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger to Turner Catledge, 23 December 1963, Turner Catledge papers, Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi. Hereafter cited as Catledge papers. Sulzberger pointedly asked Catledge to answer the reader's complaint; the publisher's memorandum was addressed to "Dear Protestant Catledge" and signed "Jewish Sulzberger."
4. Robert W. Brown, "Newspapers of Deep South Liberalize Negro Policies," Editor & Publisher, 13 December 1952, 9.
5. Walter White, How Far the Promised Land (New York: Viking, 1955), 203-204.
6. Southern Regional Council, Race in the News: Usage in Southern Newspapers(Atlanta: Southern Regional Council, 1949), 1-4.
7. Leon Svirsky, ed., Your Newspaper: Blueprint for a Better Press (New York: Macmillan, 1947), 23-24.
8. Simeon Booker, "The New Frontier in Daily Newspapers," Nieman Reports, January 1955, 12-13. A study that quantitatively documents the extent to which such news was underplayed in one Deep South state is Susan M. Weill, "African Americans and the White-Owned Mississippi Press: An Analysis of Coverage From 1944 to 1984," Master's thesis, Jackson State University, 1993.
9. Ben Bradlee, A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), 125.
10. Ira B. Harkey, Jr., "Jim Crow Days--The Way We Were" (speech given 28 October 1992 at Bennett Auditorium, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi). Harkey later gained fame as the lone Mississippi newspaperman to defend James Meredith's right to desegregate the University of Mississippi in 1962. He won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing the following year. Harkey's career as a liberal editor in Pascagoula is detailed in his memoir, The Smell of Burning Crosses: An Autobiography of a Mississippi Newspaperman (Jacksonville, Ill.: Harris-Wolfe, 1967).
11. Harkey, Smell of Burning Crosses, 54-55, 60-61, 65.
12. Robert N. Pierce, A Sacred Trust: Nelson Poynter and the St. Petersburg Times(Gainesville, Fla.: University Press of Florida, 1993), 146.
13. Roger M. Williams, "A Regional Report: Newspapers of the South," Columbia Journalism Review, Summer 1967, 30.
14. "Negro Gets Press Card by Appeal to Senate," Editor & Publisher, 22 March 1947, 13; Gilbert W. Stewart, Jr., "He Erased the Color Line," Nieman Reports, October 1947, 12; ASNE Proceedings, 1955, 93.
15. Robert W. Wells, The Milwaukee Journal: An Informal Chronicle of Its First 100 Years (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Journal, 1981), 377, 415.
16. Pierce, A Sacred Trust, 143.
17. Frank Angelo, On Guard: A History of the Detroit Free Press (Detroit: Detroit Free Press, 1981), 195.
18. "How Integration Worked on One Newspaper Staff," Nieman Reports, October 1956, 39.
19. Armistead Scott Pride, "Low Man on the Totem Pole," Nieman Reports, April 1955, 21. Earlier surveys, Pride reported, had found fifteen blacks employed at newspapers in 1948 and twelve in 1952. In 1971, a Temple University study found that blacks represented only 2.55 percent of reporters at 196 daily newspapers surveyed. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported the same year that blacks and other minorities represented just 6.8 percent of all newspaper employees. (M.L. Stein, "The Black Reporter and His Problems," Saturday Review, 13 February 1971, 58-60; Christopher H. Sterling and Timothy R. Haight, eds. The Mass Media: Aspen Institute Guide to Communication Industry Trends [New York: Praeger, 1978], 225.)
20. Pride, "Low Man on the Totem Pole," 21; John M. Harrison, The Blade of Toledo(Toledo, Ohio: Toledo Blade Co., 1985), 336. For Rowan's reporting in the South later in the 1950s, see his book Go South To Sorrow (New York: Random House, 1957).
21. Quoted in Bradlee, A Good Life, 280; Howard Bray, The Pillars of the Post: The Making of a News Empire in Washington (New York: Norton, 1980), 160-162.
22. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954); 349 U.S. 294 (1955). For a history of the Brown decision, see Richard Kluger, Simple Justice (New York: Knopf, 1976).
23. C.A. McKnight, "Text of Talk to N.C. Press Group," Southern School News, 3 February 1955, 11.
24. "High Court Bans School Segregation; Nine-to-Zero Decision Grants Time to Comply," New York Times, 18 May 1954, 1, 14-23; "Report on the South," ibid., 13 March 1956, S1-S8; "Ten Reporters Traveled in South for Weeks on Integration Story," ibid., 13 March 1956, S8; Arthur Hays Sulzberger, "`The Word Negro is Not to Appear Unless,': One Publisher's Attitude on Race," Nieman Reports, October 1957, 3-4.
25. Chicago Defender clipping, 1963, in Catledge papers.
26. Harrison E. Salisbury, A Time of Change: A Reporter's Tale of Our Time (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 44. Popham's accent was significant. Catledge had purposely selected Southerners to cover the South, and Popham's thick accent left little doubt of his Virginia roots. Claude F. Sitton, Popham's successor at the Times, once compared Popham's accent to "dollops of sorghum syrup sprayed from a Gatling gun."
27. John N. Popham quoted in Eugene Patterson, "John N. Popham, Managing Editor, Chattanooga Times," in Gentlemen of the Press ed. Loren Ghiglione (Indianapolis: R.J. Berg and Co., 1984), 337. A synopsis of Popham's career by historian Robert J. Norrell is found in the pamphlet The Media and the Movement: The Role of the Press in a Changing Society (Birmingham, Ala.: Birmingfind, 1981), the program for a 1981 conference on the media and the civil rights movement.
28. John N. Popham to Turner Catledge, 12 December 1947, 1 December 1952, 31 December 1954; Turner Catledge to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, 7 April 1953, Catledge papers. Popham's frequent travels quickly wore out his car, and eventually the Timesstarted buying a new vehicle for him every two years or so. "As you know, Johnny does extensive driving at high speeds," Catledge wrote to his superiors, "making it desirable that he have a sound automobile." (Turner Catledge to Orvil Dryfoos, 24 March 1958, Catledge papers.)
29. Turner Catledge to Lester Markel, 14 May 1958, Catledge papers.
30. "The Reporting Service...and How it Grew," Southern School News, 4 May 1955, 1; "SERS Reference Library Now Has 55,000 Items," Southern School News, March 1957, 1.
31. Hodding Carter, Their Words Were Bullets: The Southern Press in War, Reconstruction, and Peace (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1969), 64. A 1956 Gallup poll found that only one in seventeen Deep South whites favored desegregation. (John M. Fenton, "Only 1 in 17 Deep South Whites For Integration," Jackson (Miss.)Clarion-Ledger, 27 February 1956, 3.)
32. Interview with J. Oliver Emmerich, 1973, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Miss.
33. James McBride Dabbs quoted in Harry Ashmore, Civil Rights and Wrongs: A Memoir of Race and Politics (New York: Pantheon Books, 1994), 63.
34. The South Speaks Out for Law and Order: A Roundup of Southern Press Opinion(National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America et al, 1958), 4.
35. "Dilemma in Dixie," Time, 20 February 1956, 76.
36. Jere Moore quoted in ibid.
37. Don Shoemaker, ed., With All Deliberate Speed; Segregation-Desegregation in Southern Schools; Prepared by Staff Members of the Southern Education Reporting Service (New York: Harper, 1957), 31-34.
38. Reed Sarratt, The Ordeal of Desegregation: The First Decade (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 248.
39. Ashmore, Civil Rights and Wrongs, 63.
40. Carter, Their Words Were Bullets, 65.
41. Hodding Carter, "`Conservatives' Blandly Disregard Rights," Greenville, Miss.,Delta-Democrat Times, 7 November 1948, 4.
42. Quoted in Ann Waldron, Hodding Carter: The Reconstruction of a Racist (Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books, 1993), 251. For background on massive resistance, see Numan V. Bartley, The Rise of Massive Resistance (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1969).
43. Andrew McDowd Secrest, "In Black and White: Press Opinion and Race Relations in South Carolina, 1945-1964," Ph.D. dissertation, Duke University, 1971, xiii.
44. James McBride Dabbs to Andrew McDowd Secrest, 6 October 1955, quoted in ibid.
45. Benjamin Muse, Virginia's Massive Resistance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1961), 94.
46. Lenoir Chambers to Harry Ashmore, 6 February 1958, quoted in William Howard Turpin, "Editorial Leadership in a Time of Crisis: Virginia's Massive Resistance, 1954-1959," Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1976, 138.
47. Carl E. Lindstrom, The Fading American Newspaper (1960; reprint ed., Glouchester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1964), 32.
48. ASNE Proceedings, 1955, 81-86.
49. Ibid.
50. McKnight, "Text of Talk to N.C. Press Group," 11.
51. Shoemaker, With All Deliberate Speed, 31.
52. Walter Spearman and Sylvan Meyer, Racial Crisis and the Press (Atlanta: Southern Regional Council, 1960), 27. The New York Times and a black weekly, the Norfolk(Va.) Journal and Guide, were studied along with the five dailies, the Atlanta Constitution, the Charleston (S.C.) News and Courier, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and the Raleigh News and Observer.
53. For studies of newspaper coverage of civil rights issues, see Roy E. Carter, Jr., "Segregation and the News: A Regional Content Study," Journalism Quarterly 34 (Winter 1957): 3-18; Warren Breed, "South's Newspapers Hew to Objectivity," Editor & Publisher, 28 September 1957, 40; Thomas Browning Cox III, "The Georgia Press Reacts to the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1964," M.A. thesis, University of Georgia, 1980; and W. Lance Conn, "Crises in Black and White: The McComb Enterprise-Journal's Coverage of Racial News," M.A. thesis, University of Mississippi, 1991.
54. APME Red Book, 1957, 79.
55. T.R. Waring and Ralph McGill quoted in "Invasion of the South," Newsweek, 2 April 1956, 86.
56. Ibid.
57. David Halberstam, The Fifties (New York: Villard Books, 1993), 437.
58. Quoted in ibid., 438.
59. "Latest News on Till Trial," (Charleston) Mississippi Sun, 22 September 1955, 1.
60. "Mississippi: The Place, the Acquittal," Newsweek, 3 October 1955, 24, 29-30; Halberstam, The Fifties, 438.
61. Simeon Booker, "A Negro Reporter at the Till Trial," Nieman Reports, January 1956, 13-15. See also Warren Breed, "Comparative Newspaper Handling of the Emmett Till Case," Journalism Quarterly 35 (1958): 291-298.
62. James Hicks and Dan Wakefield quoted in Stephen J. Whitfield, A Death in the Delta: The Story of Emmett Till (New York: Free Press, 1989), 36-37.
63. John Chancellor, "Radio and Television Had Their Own Problems in Little Rock Coverage," Quill, December 1957, 9.
64. Ibid., 10, 21.
65. Ray Moseley, "Northern Newsmen Withstood Mob's Abuse to Report Little Rock Story," Quill, December 1957, 8, 18.
66. Quoted in "Preston Raps Press Antics at Little Rock," Editor & Publisher, 2 November 1957, 66.
67. Benjamin Fine, "Guardsmen Curb Newsmen's Work," New York Times, 6 September 1957, 8.
68. Benjamin Fine to Hal Faber, 5 September 1957; Fine to Orval Dryfoos, 18 November 1957, in Catledge papers.
69. Philip N. Schuyler, "Panelists Agree: Journalistic Code Violated at Little Rock,"Editor & Publisher, 2 November 1957, 11.
70. Ibid., 66.
71. See, for example, "Interviews with Southern Newspaper Editors," U.S. News & World Report, 24 February 1956, 44-50, 134-144.
72. ASNE Proceedings, 1956, 72-98. The New York Post wrote that Ayers' remarks "evoked visible pain among Southern and Northern editors." Ayers later defended his speech in letters to Southern newspapers. (New York Post, 22 April 1956; Harry M. Ayers letter to editor of the Journal, 1 May 1956, Harry Mell Ayers collection, Wm. Stanley Hoole Special Collections Library, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.)
73. Thomas R. Waring, "The Southern Case Against Desegregation," Harper's, January 1956, 39.
74. Hall's invitation to Wechsler is reprinted in "Is Race Friction in North Being Fully Reported?" U.S. News and World Report, 23 March 1956, 48-50.
75. "Say Race Problems Sure to Increase," Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger and Daily News, 14 October 1956, 1; "Twenty New England Editors View Mississippi Race Relations on Tour," Southern School News, November 1956, 3.
76. "Southerner Studies North for the U.P.," Editor & Publisher, 1 March 1958, 59.
77. APME Red Book, 1956, 87.
78. Unnamed AP correspondent's letter to Paul Mickelson, reprinted in ibid., 79, 82.
79. Robert U. Brown, "Shop Talk at Thirty," Editor & Publisher, 12 November 1955, 80.
80. "Emotionalism in the News," Editor & Publisher, 19 October 1957, 6.
81. Harry Reasoner, Before the Colors Fade (New York: Knopf, 1981), 58-59.
82. Wallace Westfeldt cited in Halberstam, The Fifties, 681.
83. Peter J. Boyer, Who Killed CBS? (New York: Random House, 1988), 229-230. Emphasis in the original. A useful documentary source on television and print coverage of the civil rights movement is "Covering the South: A National Symposium on the Media and the Civil Rights Movement," April 3-5, 1987, Center for the Study of Southern Culture, University of Mississippi. See also Robert J. Donovan and Ray Scherer, Unsilent Revolution: Television News and American Public Life, 1948-1991(London: Cambridge University Press, 1992), especially Chapter 1, "Police Dogs, Firehoses, and Television Cameras," pp. 3-22.
84. Harry S. Ashmore, "The Story Behind Little Rock," Nieman Reports, April 1958, 3-7. The article is the text of the Nieman Lecture the editor delivered at Harvard University in February 1958.
85. Barry Bingham, "Newspapers in Crisis," Nieman Reports, October 1959, 17-18.

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