A local paper is making national headlines thanks to a questionable word choice in one of its own news headlines.
The West View News, a monthly paper in New York’s West Village with a circulation of around 20,000, ran an op-ed from author James Lincoln Collier titled “Nigger in the White House.”
If the headline wasn’t strange and shocking enough, the New York Post reports that the op-ed is actually a pro-Obama piece, in which Collier argues that, “far right voters hate Obama because he is black.”
The West View News ran an opposing view column below Collier’s piece by African American columnist Alvin Hall titled, “This headline offends me.”
“The decision to use this headline feels misguided to me,” Hall writes. “I don’t see how its use benefits anyone, but I do feel all too clearly how it deeply offends me.”
It’s not the first time Collier, 86, has stoked controversy through his use of the N-word in publication. His 1981 historical novel Jump Ship to Freedom (co-written with his brother) uses the word repeatedly in its text. It was reportedly taken down from the shelves from several libraries over the years.
So, why did the paper decide to run a headline with such a controversial, and many might say, unnecessary, word choice? It might just come down to little more than a strange case of journalistic rivalry.
West View News editor George Capsis says Collier convinced him to use the word over objections from the paper’s editorial staff.
“In this article, however, Jim reminded me that the New York Times avoids using the word which convinced me that West View should,” Capsis says in an explanation published in the paper and reported by The Post.
The West View News has not formally responded to questions about the editorial and did not run a copy of it on its website.