By: Bill Bergstrom, Associated Press Writer
(AP) The Philadelphia Daily News printed an apology Friday amid accusations of racial insensitivity for running on its cover mug shots of more than a dozen fugitive murder suspects, all minorities.
“The front page photos from last Thursday sent the message to some readers that only black men commit murder. That was a mistake,” Managing Editor Ellen Foley wrote.
A coalition of black community leaders and civic groups that formed in response to the Daily News cover wants Foley and Editor Zack Stalberg to resign.
The Coalition for Fair News Coverage said it planned a protest outside the newspaper on Sept. 9 over “racially and ethnically insensitive patterns” that culminated with the Aug. 22 story about 41 at-large murder suspects — all either black, Hispanic, or Asian. The coalition said it would also consider calling for a boycott of the paper.
“I think the broad community is tired of it, not just the black community,” said a coalition leader, A. Bruce Crawley, chairman of the African-American Chamber of Commerce and an adviser to Mayor John F. Street.
Stalberg rejected the coalition’s accusation that the paper is racially divisive. He said neither he nor Foley plans to resign.
Foley said in the apology that the newspaper published the article to help police catch the fugitives, and noted that two had been arrested in the past week.
Stalberg said the editors decided to apologize not because of any factual inaccuracy on the cover but because of the impression it made. “I think the cover was literally correct, but a mistake on our part because what we have to worry about is perceptions, and not just the literal truth,” Stalberg said.