Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Daniel Thompson, who said he was the only full-time Black journalist at The Kenosha News, resigned Saturday after objecting to a headline he called "grossly negligent" about a rally for the family of police shooting victim Jacob Blake.
He joins a wave of journalists of color across the country who have publicly shared stories in recent months about challenges in newsrooms led predominantly by white people. Like Thompson, many protested headlines, prompting public apologies from the Philadephia Inquirer and The New York Times.
At the Saturday event, Jacob Blake Sr. spoke about visiting his son in the hospital, a retired reverend sang songs about unity, and thousands marched behind the Blake family calling for social justice.
The large-font headline that topped the Kenosha News website for several hours quoted an unnamed participant: "Kenosha speaker: ‘If you kill one of us, it’s time for us to kill one of yours.’”
Thompson, who had attended the event, said he felt it was dangerous to headline the quote, which didn't represent the event or the messages from the family and other speakers.
The top editor at the news organization, Bob Heisse, confirmed Thompson’s resignation but did not answer questions about the dispute or why he ultimately changed the headline.
“Nothing was wrong,” Heisse said. “I just felt after a while that I would just change the headline.”
Heisse also declined to answer questions about diversity at the Kenosha News. Many news organizations recently started sharing information about diversity as part of commitments to make newsrooms reflect the communities they serve.
“It’s crucial for news organizations and news leaders to be transparent about their diversity numbers,” said LaSharah Bunting, journalism director for the Knight Foundation. “You can’t solve a problem if you're not willing to admit the extent of the problem.”