Kenosha newspaper’s only full-time Black journalist quits over coverage of Jacob Blake

The only full-time Black journalist at The Kenosha News in Wisconsin resigned Saturday over the newspaper’s coverage of the shooting of Jacob Blake and the protests that followed.

Daniel J. Thompson, who had served as the paper’s digital editor, objected to a headline reading “Kenosha speaker: ‘If you kill one of us, it’s time for us to kill one of yours,’” according to The New York Times. He said the headline was misleading about the nature of the rally in question.

“The story is about the entire reaction of all the speakers and people in attendance, and that quote is one outlier falling within a flood of positive ones,” Thompson told the Times. Thompson noted that the same rally featured remarks from Blake’s father calling for protests to remain peaceful and said they would have been a better source for the headline.

“The things that frustrated me most is Mr. Blake, Jacob Blake’s father, himself personally, called for a night of peace, of no destruction, no riots,” he told the Times.

Thompson said he attended the rally outside of his duties as a journalist and that he texted executive editor Bob Heisse that evening. “I don’t even know if I can associate with the company after that,” Thompson texted Heisse. “I need to calm down, but I wanted you to know immediately.”

“Yes you should calm down. That is a public threat, and it is an exact quote at a rally that was to that point totally on message,” Heisse texted back, according to screenshots shared by Thompson.

Heisse confirmed to the newspaper that Thompson had resigned, saying, “The community depends on us and we are working under challenging circumstances. We are telling all sides of the story with photos, videos and stories, and we will continue to do so.”

Thompson later explained his decision to leave the newspaper in a video posted on Facebook. “I did what I did because today is about Jacob Blake. It’s about his family, it’s about moving forward together peacefully, and I saw that today, and that headline did not reflect it,” he said. “And when they refused to change it, I quit.”

The headline was changed by Sunday to “Kenosha speaker strays from message at rally.”

In a tweet Tuesday, Thompson said he had “confirmed EXACTLY who wrote that headline” and said he would name the person if they did not “apologize publicly or resign” within 24 hours.

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