Newspaper cartoons sparked 1898 coup

“There was no reckoning with the [News & Observer’s] role in the Wilmington coup until 2006, when Timothy B. Tyson, a historian at Duke University, authored a sixteen-page special section detailing the events. The editorial board also issued an apology….

“Without the News & Observer’s stories — and especially the cartoons — a hostile takeover would not have been possible.  ‘You can’t underestimate the heat involved in these political cartoons,’ he said. ‘They were the cable news of their day. You didn’t even have to be literate to understand them.'”

— From “On Atonement: News outlets have apologized for past racism. That should only be the start.” by Alexandria Neason, Columbia Journalism Review (Jan. 28)


It’s never too late to whitewash a front page

“North Carolina’s Wilmington Morning Star (circ. 17,866) went to press with a front-page picture of four Marine witnesses in the court-martial of Sergeant Matthew C. McKeon. As soon as the paper hit his desk, the editor on duty gulped and stopped the presses.

“He had failed to notice, in the shadowy impression on the Associated Press mat that supplied the picture, that one of the marines, Private Eugene W. Ervin of Bridgeport, Conn., was a Negro. The deskman met the crisis by ordering a pressman to take hammer and chisel to the press plate.

“Next morning Private Ervin’s ragged ghost haunted the spot where the Morning Star cut out the Negro and spited its front page.”

— From Time magazine, Aug. 13, 1956

Don’t miss the belated, bittersweet coda in this morning’s Wilmington Star-News.

Not a single surviving clipping of the infamous front page? Might the North Carolina Collection hold any evidence?