City honors publisher of local black newspaper
on February 24, 2010
When residents and city leaders spoke one-by-one of their admiration for Vernon Whitmore, they didn’t talk of racy scoops or screaming headlines.
They talked about his humble consistency. They praised his willingness to tell not the prurient or provacative, but the plain, positive yarns and personal stories unfolding all over Richmond – stories that may otherwise go overlooked.
Whitmore, a longtime newspaperman and current publisher of the Richmond Globe, said that’s the role he relishes most.
“Providing the positive news on all the good people and organizations in the city of Richmond,” Whitmore said. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”
Whitmore, 60, was honored at Tuesday’s City Council meeting for being recently named president of the West Coast Black Publishers Association. The association includes prominent black press organizations in six Western states.
The Council awarded Whitmore a certificate of recognition and hailed him as an integral figure in the community, particularly during a time when trimmed news media staffs in the Bay Area often result in reduced coverage of smaller communities.
During a public comment period praising Whitmore, several residents alluded to the few stories not focused on crime, a dearth they said would be more pronounced without Whitmore’s Richmond Globe.
Richmond has one of the highest homicide rates in California, a fact that some believe results in disproportionate media coverage of local crime.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said the city was grateful that it had the Globe, which she called a voice for the positive in Richmond.
Councilwoman Ludmyrna Lopez said Whitmore is “not only a publisher, he’s a community leader.”
Resident Jackie Thompson told a little tale of her own that she said exemplified Whitmore’s role.
It was more than two years ago, Thompson said, when a young woman confined to a wheelchair, as the result of being struck by an impaired driver, came to a City Council meeting to speak about the dangers of drunk driving.
“I called Vern, and he dropped what he was doing and he came and took her photo,” Thompson said.
Not long after, the wheelchair-bound woman died.
“But it meant so much to her,” to be featured in the Globe, Thompson said. “(Whitmore) did an admirable thing.”
Whitmore worked at the West County Times newspaper from 1981-88, he said. Later, he worked for the Oakland Post, a paper aimed at black readership.
Since 2004, he has been publisher of the Globe Newspaper Group. He said his paper serves a crucial function.
“Richmond is truly a misunderstood community,” Whitmore said. “A lot more good happens in Richmond than is portrayed in the mainstream media.”
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