One newspaper owns up to its intentional failure to cover the Civil Rights Movement in the sixties:

Deep into a speech on journalism ethics in May, John S. Carroll, now the editor of The Los Angeles Times, told University of Oregon students about his days as editor of The Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., where the running gag among newsroom staff members was that they should print the following “clarification”: “It has come to the editor’s attention that The Herald neglected to cover the civil rights movement. We regret the omission.” Mr. Carroll, who edited the paper from 1979 to 1991, said he was just trying to underscore the difficulty of correcting major mistakes. “I did it primarily to get a laugh,” he said in an interview. “I didn’t intend to challenge the paper to do anything.”

But a challenge is precisely what it became. When The Herald-Leader’s enterprise editor, John Voskuhl, read Mr. Carroll’s speech online a few days later, a light bulb went off in his head and he fired off an e-mail message to the paper’s new editor asking for permission pick up the gauntlet. “I knew we had skeletons in our closet,” Mr. Voskuhl said. On July 4, readers of The Herald-Leader saw the results of the paper’s inquiry: a front-page expos√©, two sidebar articles and a full page of previously unpublished black-and-white photographs describing how the newspapers – The Herald in the morning and The Leader in the afternoon – virtually ignored the civil rights movement in Lexington.

This is, so to speak, good news. But it should also be an important reminder of the widespread failure of the mainstream media to this day to cover the stories which shape the lives of the poor and people of color, and to report on the people’s movements working to change this country.

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