Endorsement Creates Furor In Detroit p. 12

By: Mark Fitzgerald Black-interest newspaper's endorsement of Michigan Republican
sparks protests, boycott and rage, but circulation goes up sp.

WHEN DETROIT'S LARGEST black-interest newspaper, the Michigan Chronicle, endorsed Republican Gov. John Engler for re-election, it sparked furious protests.
Some 200 protesters burned copies of the Chronicle in front of the paper's offices Nov. 3.
Various local union officers called for organized boycotts of the paper.
The president of the local chapter of the NAACP declared that "the Chronicle as we once knew it is not the Chronicle that we have now."
Democratic politicians weighed in: Former Detroit mayor, Coleman Young, called the endorsement "a damned shame."
And a black local Democratic organization leader said Chronicle publisher Sam Logan had "betrayed" the African-American community.
Amid the furor, however, Logan himself was calm.
Not only did Gov. Engler win re-election Nov. 8 ? but Logan says the protests actually pushed circulation up a bit.
"I'll do it again, if I get this kind of response," Logan said in a telephone interview.
"We got 10, 15 or 20 subscription cancellations ? mostly, you know, for dramatization. But for every [cancellation] we received, we got 20 or so new subscriptions," he said.
"For every call I got that said, 'We're disgusted with the Chronicle,' I got about 25 people ? black, white, brown, yellow and blue ? saying it was the right thing to do," Logan added.
The Chronicle's endorsement of a Republican was front-page news in Detroit because the black-owned paper had been a reliable supporter of Democrats for decades.
The publication even endorsed the eventual Democratic candidate, Howard Wolpe, in the bitter party primary last summer.
But Logan said neither Wolpe nor his campaign team ever explained the candidate's plans for Detroit ? and never communicated with the newspaper.
But controversy is nothing new to the Chronicle, which is owned by Sengstacke Enterprises, the publisher of the daily Chicago Defender and black-interest weeklies in Memphis and Pittsburgh.
Logan recalled there were similar boycotts and protests when the newspaper supported creation of a state lottery two decades ago, and again several years ago when it endorsed the present mayor, Dennis Archer, in his unsuccessful campaign against then-mayor Young.
Organizers of the current protests were just pursuing a political agenda, Logan said.
"All the other papers made their endorsements a week before, and nobody even remotely thought about picketing them," he said. "If they've got that kind of energy to rally the troops for a protest at the Chronicle, why didn't they use that energy to get [people] out to vote?"
Logan also criticized the protesters for burning newspapers just four days after Detroit suffered a recurrence of the rash of arson cases that have been an unfortunate city tradition on Devil's Night, the eve of Halloween.


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