Re: We will do better, June 25.
When the community rises up in outrage due to your failure to see the oppression you help to perpetuate in your editorial choices, saying “we will do better” is not enough.
I also question the publisher’s comment that “We actually had our first face-to-face editorial meeting since mid-March to … gather insight on how we can avoid missing shortcomings in our work” which seems to imply that a lack of face-to-face meetings might have led to the very hurtful editorial choice. The pandemic is not an excuse for a lack of critical judgment in my workplace and it should not be in yours.
Your readers and backers deserve to see a concrete plan.
You say you will “reach out” to leaders of the local Black Lives Matter movement and other People of Colour in the community on ways to move forward. What exactly will that look like? You as journalists know how an issue can come to the forefront only to be put on the back burner once the demands of new stories take its place. This issue must stay at the forefront, for all to see, in order for you to gain your readers’ trust again.
Some suggestions might include: participate as a whole staff in diversity training and report on what you discovered. Invite those leaders and POC you mention to at least one editorial meeting and actually listen to what they suggest to make your paper more inclusive. Make addressing racism and creating equity a standing agenda item in your regularly scheduled meetings so these issues are not forgotten in a week or a month.
And as reader David Taeger suggested, commit an entire edition of the paper to these issues and to the voices of local Black/Indigenous/Persons of Colour, including resources where community members can learn more, after learning from them yourself.