JAMESTOWN – A group of local residents are organizing a protest of the area’s only daily newspaper for what it claims is a misrepresentation of the community and publishing slurs and insults toward certain groups of people.
At least 50 people are expected to turn out Friday afternoon, February 21, in downtown Jamestown for a protest of The Post-Journal. The event is scheduled for 4 p.m. and will take place near the intersection of W. Second and Cherry Streets.
According to organizers, the peaceful protest is in response to what they claim is an effort by the newspaper to push a conservative agenda while often overlooking or ignoring other points of view.
“Certain views on politics are repeatedly being published. Certain views on social issues are repeatedly being published. And then, when I know that I myself and at least 20 other people have submitted rebuttals, they never get published,” explained Co-organizer Jamijo Williams during a recent WRFA interview.
Most recently, the newspaper ran several letters to the editor from local residents voicing their objection to Gregory Rabb, the openly gay city council president who authored a letter explaining how his work in making Jamestown a same-sex marriage destination has given a boost to the local economy.
Following his letter, Rabb was criticized and ridiculed for his sexual orientation and same-sex marriage promotion, both in a series of published letters-to-the-editor and in the comment sections of the newspapers website. While the Post-Journal also ran a series of letters supporting Rabb, some of the protesters allege the negative letters and comments went overboard with personal attacks on Rabb and could also be categorized as hate speech toward the gay community.
According to Williams, the recent issue surrounding Rabb is just one example of how the paper misrepresents the community. She says other editorials, letters and stories in the paper have also help to inaccurately portray the Jamestown area.
“If somebody in Los Angeles were to look up our local newspaper and were to read our letters to the editor, our editorials and our public forums and the things that are getting published, they would think that we were small-town, Nazi America,” Williams said. “They would think that we hated everybody and this just isn’t the case. I don’t want that view representing me, because its not who I am and its not who the people I know are, and I’m sure that there are people here who feel that way, but they don’t get to speak for everybody.”
Williams also said that because of the way various social issues are being covered and represented, she and others have decided it’s time to organize a peaceful protest of the paper and is encouraging others in the community to attend.
“If you’re tired of the way The Post-Journal is representing us – making us look like we’re anti-science, anit-gay marriage, anti-ethnicity, anti-diversity, anti-poor people and anti-domestic violence intervention – if you’re tired of feeling like you’re being represented as something that you’re not, show up and make you’re voice heard,” Williams said.
PROTEST MISSION STATEMENT
According to the event’s mission statement, organizers hope the protest will persuade the newspaper to consistently portray a balanced, civil and positive view of the Jamestown area. They will also demand the paper refrain from publishing editorial and reader-submitted content that includes slurs or insults based upon a person’s or group’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political views, religious views or physical, mental or socio-economic status. And they also want to see The Post-Journal give equal space to syndicated and reader-submitted editorial content that reflects more moderate and left-leaning views, even if they may not reflect the views held by The Post-Journal owners or staff.
The protest will take place Friday Afternoon, February 21 at 4 p.m. at the intersection of W. Second and Cherry Streets in downtown Jamestown.
WRFA was able to talk with Rabb and will air that interview Thursday night during our Community Matters program at 6 p.m. Portions of the Williams’ interview will also air.
NO COMMENT FROM THE POST-JOURNAL
WRFA reached out The Post-Journal editor John Whittaker and publisher Michael Bird to see if either wanted to respond to questions or provide a basic statement regarding the protest, along with the allegations that the paper was misrepresenting the community, preventing certain letters from being published, and allowing hate speech to be printed in its publication and online. Mr. Whitaker declined comment and Mr. Bird did not respond.
WRFA was able to reach a former senior employee, who wished to remain anonymous, who explained that during their time with The Post-Journal, all letters were reviewed and approved or rejected by the publisher or editor. They also stated the newspaper had no policy in place that either defined hate speech, nor when or if it is ever appropriate to print letters or allow online comments that contain hate speech. Instead, those decisions were left to the editor.
The Post-Journal is owned by Ogden Newspapers, Inc., based in Wheeling, W.V. and which is a diversified media corporation that publishes 34 daily newspapers and 81 weekly newspapers in 13 states.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not an endorsement, nor is it a promotion, of the planned protest of The Post-Journal by either WRFA Radio or its parent organization, the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts.