By: Dorothy Giobbe
DISAGREEMENT OVER NEWS and editorial coverage of an African-American city official has lead to a boycott against the Galveston County (Texas) Daily News.
A recently formed alliance of two church groups in the area accuse the Daily News of unduly harsh coverage of a black city manager. The groups, representing a total of about 50 churches, are using fliers and leaflets to contact subscribers and advertisers.
“We believe there is an all-out attempt by the newspaper to attack African-American males in leadership roles,” said Rev. Kerry Tillmon, pastor of West Point Missionary Baptist Church and a leader of Galveston County Movement for Justice, participants in the boycott.
“Over a ten-month time space, there were more editorials written on [the city manager] than there were on O.J. Simpson,” Rev. Tillmon added. “All those were negative. The newspaper never has anything positive to say.”
So far, the boycott has lead to about 80 subscription stops for the 28,670-circulation newspaper.
The boycott has had “zero impact” on advertising, said editor and publisher Dolph Tillotson.
The publisher added that the scrutiny the city manager has received is not related to race. The Daily News has extensively covered allegations of fiscal mismanagement within departments under the manager’s jurisdiction, he said.
“This is a story of immense financial and political significance,” Tillotson said. “It’s a story we can’t just not cover.”
Though Tillotson has been asked to attend an upcoming meeting of the Galveston County Movement for Justice, he turned down the invitation because he doesn’t think the meeting will be productive.
“The way it’s being promoted I don’t think will promote constructive discussion,” Tillotson said. “It’s more a way to threaten and intimidate the newspaper.”
A reporter from the Daily News will cover the meeting, he added.
Tillotson said he is “eager” to meet with representatives from the boycott group in private.
“We would like to resolve this and we are anxious to talk about the issues,” he said. “But so far they have been unwilling to do that.”
Rev. Tillmon said the meeting should be held in public because “that’s where [Tillotson] does his dirt.”
“The way it’s being promoted I don’t
think will promote constructive discussion,” Tillotson said. “It’s more a way to threaten
and intimidate the newspaper.”