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City’s New Editor is Problematic. Here’s Why? | An Op-Ed
As avid City Newspaper readers and supporters we have been excitedly watching as the paper embarks on a new journey with WXXI. As weekly readers we knew that this acquisition would come with transformative changes to the alternative paper that we know and love. That was until earlier this week when City announced the hiring of the paper’s new editor. To be quite honest, were dismayed at the naming of David Andreatta as editor of City Newspaper.
The Towlers have built a progressive newspaper that brings forth top notch explanatory reporting while supporting the arts, culture, food, and politics; all while utilizing the brightest voices that our journalism community has to offer. What we loved most about Mary Anna Towler’s editorial direction is her unique ability to give spotlight to Rochester’s underserved and non-mainstream communities and culture, while at the same time calling out the challenges that we face during a very tumultuous time in the history of Rochester and the nation. City has maintained an inclusive stance in its reporting that in our view is the polar opposite of the brand of incendiary, sometimes tone deaf, anti-black, sexist and discriminatory opinions that have been expressed by David Andretta during his decade long tenure at Democrat and Chronicle.
To put this simply David has a history of racially charged microaggressions and implicit and explicit biases in his reporting and when called out has repeatedly dismissed concerns relating to racism and misogyny in his work. Here are some examples:
- In a column about Hon. Melissa Barrett’s residency, Andreatta employed dog whistles and innuendo. (You can read a lengthy critique here.) The column repeatedly referred to the desirability of living in the city, the car she drives, and cronyism. It even alleged voter fraud – without any proof. Despite the column’s many problems, Andreatta responded to criticism by focusing on a his use of the word “carpetbagger” and declared himself innocent. If he had taken any time to speak with African Americans, he would have learned the term “carpetbagger,” no matter how often-used in politics, does indeed have racist origins.
- In this same column, Andreatta referred to Mayor Lovely Warren as Assemblyman David Gantt’s protegee. Referring to the female mayor as a protégée is sexist, as she’s been in office for six years and is clearly her own person with her own accomplishments. Further, it’s racist to constantly suggest that when black people engage in cronyism, it’s corrupt, but normalize when white people engage in the same behavior. For example, does the press often refer to County Clerk Adam Bello as Rep. Joseph Morelle’s protégée?
- Andreatta wrote a column saying Gantt must go because he doesn’t support a certain bill. Andreatta failed to mention then-Assemblyman Morelle also didn’t support the bill.
- Andreatta lectured a black school board member who works with black children every day in her job at Baden Street Settlement about racism.
- Andreatta wrote gratuitous columns about Leticia Astacio, contributing to the online and in-person harassment of the former judge. The coverage of Astacio was racist, as it was out of proportion to her offenses and she was used as clickbait by media organizations.
- Andreatta regularly blocks people on Twitter and Facebook who respectfully disagree with him, even when they point out concerns about racism and sexism in his reporting and social media commentary. It’s not appropriate for a journalist to refuse to engage legitimate and thoughtful discussion about his work. We say this as people who, unlike Andreatta, have experienced severe online harassment.
From our vantage point Andreatta (a white man) has been rewarded for behavior steeped in white fragility and male privilege. From a cultural and historical perspective this appointment joins a long list of white male professionals who take no accountability when they are called out and only seem to fail upwards. To be clear, we are not suggesting that people cannot grow and learn from their mistakes, or that past grievances cannot be forgiven. But we cannot help but call out the optics of a substantive appointment for a person that has seemed to take little to no accountability when they have been called out for biases and microaggressions by marginalized communities in our City.
Where do we go from here?
So where do we go from here? We all have to do work to unlearn what we have been taught to believe about ourselves and our society. No one expects perfection. However, we do expect reflection, dialogue, and a willingness to consider other perspectives. We hope Andreatta finally listens to those asking him to take steps to join this important conversation especially given this elevated position, influence and voice that this role carries for City Newspaper and our City. We also suggest WXXI and CITY utilize an ombudsman. Andreatta’s track record of blocking, automatically disagreeing with criticism and refusing to discuss his coverage suggests a refusal to be held accountable. Members of the public need a place to go when we have concerns. So far, we’ve been ignored and this is not ok!
This article was co-written by Rachel Barnhart & Calvin Eaton
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About Rachel Barnhart
(she/ her/ hers) Rachel Barnhart spent 18 years as a journalist. She is now the Democratic nominee for the 21st District of the Monroe County Legislature. She is a graduate of Cornell University and completing her executive Master Degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University. Barnhart works as a public relations and advocacy communications consultant.
(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton aka theglutenfreechef (www.theglutenfreechefblog.com) is a digital content creator, social entrepreneur, and educator whose area of expertise includes antiracism, diversity, inclusion, K-12 curriculum writing and teaching, gluten free plant based living, and higher education.