14 Hamilton City Councillors, School board trustees and candidates who had declared a boycott of the Hamilton Spectator have issued a statement that points to a possible resumption of interviews with the elected officials.
The boycott was declared in response to the arrest of 27-year old Samson Dekamo who was charged with being an accessory after the fact in the brutal Mount hope Home invasion that resulted in the abduction and assault on Faqir Ali, and the shooting of two of his sons, one fatally.
In covering the arrest, the Hamilton Spectator, CBC Hamilton and the Bay Observer identified the accused as a former activist with the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion and his involvement with a student group calling for the end of the police liaison program in Hamilton Schools.
The coverage garnered accusations of racism. Spectator Editor in Chief Paul Berton addressed the use of the information, saying it was relevant and in the public interest. He also reiterated the paper’s commitment to anti racism, writing, “Racism exists. It is abhorrent. And we all must work harder to eradicate it. We will continue to try our best.”
The statement released by the boycott group reads
“On Thursday, November 10, we met with management at The Hamilton Spectator and Metroland Media to discuss our October 27 letter. As a result of the discussion, the Spectator has committed to reviewing its social media reporting practices, including how it frames its reporting in social media spaces, and will include the reporting that prompted our letter in its anti-racism and media bias training. We’re glad that we have been able to engage with the Spectator around this important discussion and we hope that all local newsrooms will reflect on and commit to challenging anti-Black racism in their reporting.” The statement adds, “As individuals, we will decide how to communicate with the Spectator moving forward.”
The boycott of the Spectator was greeted with significant backlash from readers, some of whom questioned how a large number of the candidates who had campaigned on the issue of transparency, could square that with refusal to communicate to constituents through the media. Constituents also took their concerns directly to individual elected officials. As a result, several of the boycott members had already resumed speaking to reporters, before the announcement today.