An opportunity the Star Tribune should seize

The letter below was written by Anthony Morley and submitted to the Star Tribune on May 10. Mr. Morley is a former Star Tribune editorial writer. He makes the case that the paper should support the revival of the Minnesota News Council and ‘seize the opportunity’ to engage with other media outlets and the public on questions of unfair coverage, particularly in light of complaints from well-known voices within the African American community. The Star Tribune declined to print Mr. Morley’s letter.

 

To the editor:

It’s time to revive the Minnesota News Council. For 40 years till 2011 the council provided an independent “jury” of journalists and lay citizens, where the public and the media could jointly engage with questions of reportorial fairness.

If the council still existed, it could well take up the strong chorus of current complaint about Star Tribune reporting from prominent African-American citizens.

In a May 1 Counterpoint (“Star Tribune unfairly maligns Urban League”) Steven L. Belton charged the newspaper with “misleading innuendo” and “unsubstantiated” negative reporting. Belton is interim president of the Minneapolis Urban League. He made his complaints specific regarding Star Tribune coverage of results and financing in Urban League education programs.

Belton’s complaint echoes and amplifies similar charges by other well-known African American community voices. Their grievances too regard Star Tribune reporting on African American organizations and political leaders. Two Twin Cities African American weekly newspapers have reported and brought forth these accusations. The Star Tribune has not.

In this situation Minnesota needs a public, professional and dispassionate forum such as the News Council once provided. Here is an opportunity the Star Tribune should seize! Not so long ago it understood the need and strongly supported the News Council function. It could now do itself and the public a major service by putting its strength behind a revival — with the Star Tribune itself as the first to engage its serious citizen critics.