Press Release: International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger today released the following statement concerning the Pensacola News Journal’s decision to print a racist cartoon on June 16:
“We rely on the sound, unbiased work of real reporters and editors to bring us the news, but on June 16, Andy Marlette and the Pensacola News Journal violated that standard by printing a senseless, confusing and bigoted illustration that should never have reached print. Mr. Marlette and the News Journal owe fire fighters and readers an unequivocal apology.
“Layoffs are never good. At their worst, they tragically hurt people who work for a living. From a business perspective, they can remove valuable experience and institutional knowledge from a work place. News Journal workers have suffered from layoffs in the past year. And the massive layoffs last week at newspapers owned by Advance Publications in Alabama that threw hard- working journalists and editors into the streets and out of jobs during a terrible economy is deeply disturbing. But none of that is an excuse to insult fire fighters — and it’s time for the illustrator and editors at the paper to stand up honorably and apologize for their ignorance.
“At a time when we need more trained, qualified journalists to cover and report the really important stories on local, regional, national and international events so the citizens of this country aren’t left to rely on biased bloggers and propagandists, editors of a newspaper in a major city must remain smart and professional. Sadly, the editors at the News Journal have proven they are neither.”
The IAFF, headquartered in Washington, represents more than 300,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics in North America and is the leading advocate for the health and safety of fire fighters.