Sacramento newspaper's cartoon of Mayor Kevin Johnson prompts complaint from NAACP chapter - iMediaEthics

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The News & Review's cover image of Mayor Kevin Johnson (Credit: News & Review via CBS Sacramento)

The Sacramento News & Review is starting a diversity program after the NAACP complained about its published cartoon of Mayor Kevin Johnson. The News & Review is an alt-weekly.

Last month, the NAACP’s local chapter said it wanted a boycott if the newspaper doesn’t apologize for what the chapter claimed were racist images, the Sacramento Bee reported. On the other hand, the News & Review says the cartoons aren’t racist. (Deadspin posted the Sacramento brand of NAACP’s complaint over the cartoon here.)

News & Review‘s co-editor Nick Miller told the Sacramento Bee “the illustrations of Mayor Kevin Johnson in SN&R’s July 9 issue depict him as sweaty and nervous while reading about his lawsuit against this paper and allegations of email misuse. These illustrations are based on an actual photo of the mayor.”

“We refute the NAACP’s assertion that the illustrations are in any way racist, violent, or perpetuating negative stereotypes, or that our coverage of the mayor is racially biased,” Miller added. “Such accusations are unfounded and without merit.”

Miller pointed iMediaEthics to its July 23 editorial titled “SN&R has a diversity problem.” The editorial said that Miller and co-editor Rachel Leibrock “met with more than three dozen community members” at the local NAACP to discuss the cartoon.

The editorial continued to stand by the cartoon but added that the paper does need to increase diversity.

“It’s very clear that some people are genuinely upset and offended by the illustration. We recognize this. We hear this. This is unfortunate and regrettable,” the editorial states. “At the same time, we appreciate the overwhelming support from the community, and from those who’ve come to our defense. We stand by the work of our writers and designers here at SN&R. But we’re not going to spend this editorial rationalizing our work or explaining our intent.”

The editorial added that “the big take-home” from a recent Association of Alternative Newsmedia conference was that “journalism is too damn white” and the paper realized after the NAACP meeting it “has a diversity problem.”

To help fix this, the paper said it is starting a paid internship program to increase diversity.

The mayor, Johnson, announced a lawsuit last month against the paper  over the release of his e-mails, USA Today reported.

Deadspin reported that the News & Review “has consistently taken the lead” in reporting on Johnson and “a long run of scandals involving a variety of sexual, financial, and ethical improprieties.”

Johnson’s spokesperson declined to comment on the cartoons.

Hat Tip: Romenesko


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Sacramento newspaper’s cartoon of Mayor Kevin Johnson prompts complaint from NAACP chapter

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