To say it is a difficult time in Evanston is an understatement. Indeed, it is a painful and traumatic time. And because of how challenging the news is these days, it is even more important that we do our job well— especially when it comes to the hardest stories.
On Monday night, we made a bad decision, and we’d like to apologize.
We are grateful to the parents we met with Wednesday who pointed out how this decision negatively impacted them. We thank them for their time, their advice, their input and their openness. We would like to believe we heard what they said.
As administrators, parents and students gathered for the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board meeting Monday, May 23, the editorial decision was that as the meeting would run late, we would publish a quick good news story about the Phyllis Ganser Outstanding PTA Volunteer of the Year Awards.
We decided the complete meeting coverage would be more difficult and that would be posted the next day.
It was the wrong call. It was tone deaf to post the Ganser award story in light of the more serious conversation we had just witnessed in the boardroom, as parents, students and teachers came to the meeting to discuss the issues of the nooses that were found on May 13.
As journalists and people who are rooted in Evanston, we are deeply affected by this racist act, and condemn in the strongest terms possible this act and any act that intimidates and traumatizes Black people. In a number of states, the mere appearance of a noose would mandate this be labeled a hate crime.
Knowing all this, it was insensitive of us to post a light story when the pain of these actions demanded a serious story which included the voices of Haven parents, students and teachers who came to the boardroom to be heard about the nooses and the investigation surrounding it. We worked to capture what occurred during this difficult meeting, but we realize we could not represent in its entirety the depth and breadth of the pain expressed by community members, who came forward to speak.
We ran a story about what had occurred at the board meeting late the next evening, and it appeared in Wednesday’s newsletter. Our lag time was not because we thought the story was unimportant. It was because we thought it was one of the most important stories we will cover for this community.
We have since added to our website a story about the history of lynching and the terrorist symbol nooses are when it comes to racial injustice. Anytime we do a follow-up story on the investigation into the nooses — and we plan to do as many as it takes — we will add this link at the top of the story.
None of this is over. We will continue to follow this story, and we will work to do a better job.