Concern Grows Over 'Metro' and Racial Statements

By: E&P Staff Controversy continues to build today over reports of racial insensitivity at the company that owns the chain of Metro newspapers, heightened by the fact that The New York Times Co. just bought a 49% share in Metro Boston.

Two days ago, reported that Metro officials had twice made racially offensive remarks at company events overseas. In one incident, Metro USA President Steve Nylund used the word ?niggers? and referred to the penis size of black men. (The company apologized for these remarks on Monday.) There are other allegations that the company fostered a culture of discrimination.

Callie Crossley, a cultural commentator and program manager at Harvard's Nieman Foundation, told The Boston Globe that it ?is incumbent" on the Times Co. ''not just to say something but to do something. ... They need to take this very seriously. This is a publication aimed at young people. What's the message here?"

?Instead of being called Metro, it should be called Retro," New York City Councilman Bill Perkins told the New York Post. "If this is true, it seems the Times has some accounting to do. I don't see how they could embrace that relationship."

A Times spokeswoman told the Post the company is discussing the allegations with Metro USA's management.

The Boston Herald reported today that top executives at the Boston Metro ?routinely joked that the freebie newspaper's team of street hawkers looked like they belonged in state prison,? according to a former Metro saleswoman.

Contacted yesterday by The Boston Globe (which is owned by the Times Co.), Leonard Alkins, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, said the reports were "very troublesome" and suggested that the Times Co. "is buying into a newspaper whose management seems to have some questionable character problems." The Times Co., he said, "needs to deal with the culture of the Metro first and then sit down with the community."

The Boston Association of Black Journalists issued a statement yesterday saying the publicized comments by Metro executives "should give the New York Times [Co.] a huge red flag about the insensitive culture within its new business partner." The association recommended a boycott of Metro.

In a statement, Globe publisher Richard Gilman said: "Of course, the incidents that have been reported are reprehensible, and as we said yesterday, the Times Co. is discussing the allegations with Metro USA's management.?

When Metro apologized for the racial remarks Monday it denied "recently published allegations that a culture of racism and sexism exists at Metro."


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