This article from CJR's archives is presented as part of our 50th anniversary celebration.

In this respect, the Richmond Times-Dispatch for the same period offers an enlightening contrast. Its issues are dotted with serious Richmond and Virginia stories on desegregation proceedings in the courts and on plans for future suits by Negroes. In addition, it has desegregated news of Negroes to the point where it ran a long profile of a Negro detective on the Richmond police force. All this, when its editorial attitude toward the Birmingham demonstrations was hardly more friendly than that of the Birmingham papers.

In other words, news policies of the Birmingham papers appear to be almost as segregated as has been the city itself. (It must be observed that many northern newspapers are hardly better in this respect.) In times past, these policies could perhaps be endured as a type of social custom. Now, they get in the way of full, in-depth reporting of important news. Like the Senior Citizens, the newspapers of Birmingham may have to learn how to sit down and talk with Negroes.

 

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James Boylan is CJR’s founding editor.