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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 5:14 am | Fair 49º


Letter to the Editor: Santa Barbara News-Press is a Mess

Santa Barbara is a city that is highly dependent on the labor and contributions of immigrant people. Yet the Santa Barbara News-Press has sought to dehumanize them through the use of the word “illegal,” a term that is irresponsible, biased and racist, and that completely dismisses the rich Latino culture that is the underpinnings of the city.

To make matters worse, the News-Press arrogantly stood by its front-page headline referring to unknown persons in line at DMV as “Illegals waiting in line at the DMV” despite public calls for a retraction.

Don Katich, News-Press director of news operations, asserted that calling people illegals “has been the practice for nearly 10 years at the Santa Barbara News-Press to describe people living in this country illegally.” The News-Press stated “it is an appropriate term in describing someone as ‘illegal’ if they are in this country illegally,” adding that they are “illegal in the eyes of this valued system and the Santa Barbara News-Press calls them so.”

We wonder what “valued system” Katich refers to? The system that exploits undocumented workers such as those employed by the News-Press itself to deliver its newspapers? Or the system that engages in union busting as when Wendy McCaw fired her unionized employees?

The Santa Barbara News-Press, under director Wendy McCaw, has frequently manipulated information, stories and headlines to create negative narratives about people of color, thus, perpetuating racism, discrimination and stereotypes in this city. Tragically, those most affected by this headline were the innocent bystanders who were photographed without permission and ousted as being “illegal,” an appellation that could jeopardize their employment.

The justification for the term “illegal” cannot be tolerated by anyone possessing the moral sensibility to respect the human dignity and value of all workers. No matter what standards government or journalism set, we as a community will continue to hold the institutions of our city to higher standards. This is an issue that affects all citizens of Santa Barbara, as can be seen in those News-Press employees who are standing up to injustices in their own workplace. This is a united effort!

Therefore, we urge the Santa Barbara News-Press to publish a correction to this headline, making use of more neutral journalistic terminology and to adhere to this higher standard in future reporting on the topic of immigration.

We expect a public response from the News-Press before Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, or we will be back on that day at 3 p.m. If the correction is not made, we will call for a general boycott of all businesses that advertise with the News-Press as we assume they support its fomentation of racism through their financial patronage.

PODER Santa Barbara
(People Organized for the Defense & Equal Rights of Santa Barbara Youth)

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