There has been a large and somewhat heated response on Facebook to this week’s Review editorial which was headlined “Turbulent bars.”
We want to make a couple of points and then an invitation.
How do our editorials happen?
It is a collective process within our small staff. Each week the Review offers one or two editorial opinions on local issues. They’re unsigned because, by long tradition in the newspaper industry, they are intended to reflect the long-term editorial view of the newspaper itself rather than an individual editor, reporter or publisher.
These days at the Review, ideas for the editorials come from Maria Maxham, our editor; from Dan Haley, publisher; or from another reporter or freelancer. Most often the topics come from reporting we’ve done recently in the Review. Haley writes the editorials and they are then edited by Maxham and at least one other editor in our newsroom.
Some of the Facebook comments have mistakenly assumed that Maxham wrote this editorial. Not the case. Haley wrote this editorial and has written the Review editorials for several years.
Was this editorial racist?
The response from Facebook commenters would say yes. A majority of the commenters accuse the Review of being racist toward Black patrons of local bars. A subset of critics suggest the Review is racist for even suggesting that race is a factor in the complicated issues of crowds, noise and nuisance this spring on Madison Street.
We don’t believe our editorial is racist. We’d urge commenters to go back and read it again – or for the first time. Here’s a link: https://www.forestparkreview.com/2021/05/05/turbulent-bars/.
First, as the editorial acknowledges, the challenges around bars in Forest Park this spring are complex. A portion of the crowds come with the belief, mistaken, we believe, that we are living in a post-COVID world. Time to party. First warmer spring weekends always turn out a crowd and that means more alcohol, more shouting, more celebrating, more energy, more fights, more litter — just more activity in general at closing time.
That makes neighbors inevitably grouchy and leads to more complaints for a variety of reasons.
Taking all that as a given, the editorial also made this point: Forest Park has put up with a lot of rowdy, carousing white college students for decades with a wink and a “head on home now” attitude.
The reaction this spring feels different to this newspaper’s editorial staff and we believe we need to allow that the focus of residents’ complaints coming on three bars with largely Black clientele has an element of race attached. But we understand that race may not be the sole, or even the dominant, element.
That’s it. We’re not blaming anyone. We’re saying that like everything else in a country infused with systemic racism, there is a racial component to this discussion. We’ll do better if we factor that into possible solutions.
We’d like to hear from our readers and our critics on this editorial. We want to listen. We want to have a civil discussion. So, this Tuesday at 7 p.m. the Review is hosting a Zoom conversation that is open to all. Michael Romain, our equity editor and ombudsman, will moderate. Dan Haley and Maria Maxham will take part, too.
You are welcome to join us. Here’s the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81132300904?pwd=SVlramgrd01mYnRxS2ZBd1dwSEtJdz09