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Campus newspaper apologizes for putting photo of black women in newspaper

It will undergo diversity training

Three years ago, the University of Oregon’s campus newspaper was investigated by its bias response team for insufficient coverage of transgender people.

But who needs top-down investigations when newspaper staff are already learning to censor themselves from the bottom up?

The Reveille of Louisiana State University is the latest student media operation to apologize for failing at “inclusivity.”

Its sin? Putting a photo of black women in a Thursday article titled “Rowdy Reputation: University struggles with image; continues to rank among nation’s top party schools.”

If that version of the article remains online anywhere, it’s not obvious where to find it. The only article with that subject – both live and archived – is titled “LSU’s struggle with reputation as a party school, ‘safety school,'” and it has zero comments.

It’s not mentioned under either headline in the newspaper’s Twitter feed, and it’s not clear whether the original photo ever appeared on Twitter. The College Fix could not find tweets by others referring to the supposed controversy.

The Reveille apparently got an earful from some readers for the original article, which ran in Thursday’s print edition.

In a letter from the editor Monday, Editor-in-Chief Caleb Greene apologized for “associating partying with the black community” in the newspaper’s pairing of headline and photo. But he doesn’t specify what the newspaper will do differently going forward:

Since Thursday, I have received multiple phone calls and emails regarding the messaging of this image. It was not the intention of The Reveille to associate the University’s party image with the African-American community on campus, but we recognize our error. As editor-in-chief, I would like to sincerely apologize to any individual who found the photo offensive.

The Reveille is dedicated to inclusivity, and will take a comprehensive look at our production process to help prevent a similar error from occurring in the future. Additionally on Thursday, I spoke to LSU Vice Provost for Diversity Dereck Rovaris Sr. about the future diversity training for The Reveille staff. …

Our mistake made in Thursday’s newspaper has been taken very seriously by The Reveille management staff and myself. In good conscience, I felt that I must apologize for the error.

Greene didn’t say who prompted the conversation with Rovaris – himself, the vice provost or another person – or whose idea it was to provide diversity training in response to the incident. The Fix has asked both Rovaris and the LSU administration to explain the vice provost’s role in the response to the article.

An auto-response from Rovaris says he’ll have very limited email access” through Thursday. The email he provided for an “urgent” response bounced back.

The Fix has also asked Greene: whether the original version of the article was ever posted online, and if so, whether it was removed and replaced with the live version; how the newspaper’s editorial process would change going forward, such as avoiding photos with a single race of people in articles with negative connotations; and whether he would have apologized for a photo of white women with the same headline.

LSU’s demographics from fall 2018 (the most recent year posted) show that whites outnumber the “Black/African American” population by more than five to one, while women slightly outnumber men, but no statistic is provided that combines sex and race.

Read the apology letter and the revised article, which includes a photo of liquor bottles.

MORE: Bias response team investigates newspaper for insufficient trans coverage

IMAGE: Bjoern Wylezich / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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