Setting the record straight on the Inner-City News

To the Editor:

This letter is written in response to Matthew Schneider-Mayerson’s column “Yale’s inner-city blues (makes me wanna holler)” published on Feb. 11.

The Inner-City News has been New Haven’s community newspaper since 1990 and possesses strong ethical journalistic practices. This past summer, a partnership was formed in collaboration with Yale and the Office of New Haven and State Affairs and the Inner-City News to spotlight special youth programs held on Yale’s campus.

At no time did the Inner-City News compromise its integrity while doing business with Yale University. The acting editor of the Inner-City and not Yale approved all articles. There was a clear understanding that the choice in programs would include diversity which both Yale and the Inner-City agreed upon. The reporters were selected by the acting editor only, and Yale did not influence our writers or content. The only time Yale was involved was for verification of data.

Schneider-Mayerson writes that “the News would write six articles about subjects of Yale’s choice written by authors of Yale’s approval with final edit by Yale. Alongside of these articles would run ads promoting Yale in the community — though the articles were of course of little more than paid advertisements themselves. How could a ‘moral force’ like Yale commission newspaper articles that would appear objective?” The Inner-City’s articles were a series of six articles spotlighting students and staff of the S.C.H.O.L.A.R. and the National Youth Sports Program. The paid advertisements were part of the partnership but in no way influenced the editor or reporters on subject matter. The advertisements were regular ads that highlighted the work Yale is doing in the community. Again, incorrect information.

Why would Schneider-Mayerson think that the New Haven community doesn’t want to hear about inner-city youth excelling and doing positive things? Would he prefer that the Inner-City News report negative delineation of inner-city youth and programs? Given the fact that these programs have been nationally cited as excellent programs, it would appear that the authors of the article favored Yale. Far from the truth, Schneider-Mayerson.

These excellent programs provided academics and leadership for 60 students from New Haven’s Hill Regional Career High School studying science and medicine on the Yale University campus and youth from the inner city involved in a character-building program. The Inner-City News’ philosophy is and has always been to reflect the values that African Americans cherish: education, family and community. We take pride in our commentary and our objective reporting for a large multicultural audience. We are about motivating, educating and empowering the New Haven community by providing information about people, programs, national and local government that the community needs to be informed about.

Per Schneider-Mayerson’s statement: “the newspaper’s actions are deplorable rather than contemptible — in the business of journalism, small papers are at the whim of advertisers. It is sad that the economic state of the News was so poor that it felt forced into making such an agreement.” Yes, we are a small African-American newspaper, but we do not and will not compromise our ethical journalistic practices — not even for the mighty dollar.

We are part of the New Haven community, and Yale University, the Office of New Haven and State Affairs, and the NAACP have recognized the importance of our publication as the “voice” in our community.

John Penfield Thomas Jr.

February 26, 2003

The writer is the president and publisher of The Inner-City News.

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