The Kansas City Star, one of the most influential news sources in the Midwest, has admitted to over 140 years of racist coverage. The Star is now apologizing for what it’s calling decades of “robbing an entire community of opportunity, dignity, justice, and recognition.” The apology does not stop at a simple acknowledgment of past wrongs. The Star is publishing a six-part series addressing its tainted history.
Mike Fannin, president and editor of The Star, wrote, “Reporters were frequently sickened by what they found — decades of coverage that depicted Black Kansas citizens as criminals living in a crime-laden world. They felt shame at what was missing: the achievements, aspirations, and milestones of an entire population routinely overlooked, as if Black people were invisible”.
After a year of racial reckoning across the country, this is a small step in righting over a century worth of wrong in Kansas City. Newspapers are a cog in the machine that is systematic racism. Before the advent of the internet, 24-hour news channels, and social media, newspapers were the primary source of information for most people. As The Star has admitted, that information was intentionally skewed to dehumanize Black Americans, thus making segregation, Jim Crow laws, and redlining acceptable to its readership.
Moving forward, the Star says it is encouraging other Kansas City businesses to examine their own histories as well, and also announced the formation of The Kansas City Star Advisory Board to help guide coverage in the future. The move was met with hesitant praise by Mayor Quinton Lucas, who stated, “A positive step by the (Kansas City Star) with more needed.”