In a year in which widespread protests for racial justice prompted companies to examine their own biases and histories of systemic racism, newsrooms also began examining their coverage of nonwhite communities.
In September, the Los Angeles Times editorial board apologized for decades of biased coverage of the city’s nonwhite population, which it blamed on a shortage of Indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian-American and other minority groups in the newsroom. For at least the paper’s first 80 years, it said, it was an institution that was “deeply rooted in white supremacy.”
The effort by The Star, founded in 1880, is among the boldest moves in its scope and ambition.
“I think that it is a visionary moment that hopefully other media outlets will be following their lead,” said Stacy Shaw, a lawyer and activist in Kansas City who is part of The Star’s newly formed advisory group. “A lot of times people don’t even acknowledge all of the horror that they have wrought against the community. I think that is the first step, saying, ‘We got this wrong, now how are we going to fix it.’”
Mr. Fannin said in an interview that the depth of The Star’s racist coverage was appalling — coverage that helped cement inequalities that continue to plague the city. He pointed to the paper’s founder, William Rockhill Nelson, mentoring and supporting J.C. Nichols, a developer who used racial restrictions to create neighborhoods that were all white, and remain overwhelmingly white to this day.
Not only did The Star give Mr. Nichols favorable coverage of his developments and space for him to advertise his segregated developments — “A Place Where Discriminating People Buy,” read one of them — but it also gave him a lofty eulogy when he died in 1950.
“Nichols stands as one of the very few city leaders of vision that carries beyond his time,” the paper wrote then in an editorial.
While the ambition of Sunday’s series of articles has earned The Star praise, it also has placed new scrutiny on the newsroom’s demographics: About 17 percent of the reporters are Black in a city where Black residents make up about 28 percent of the population. Until it hired Ms. Williams’s son, Trey Williams, this year to oversee race and equity coverage, the paper had been without a Black staff editor for more than a decade.
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