Daniel J. Thompson, who was the former digital editor and only Black journalist at the paper, attended a “Justice for Jacob” rally on Saturday (Aug. 29). The paper headlined his coverage using a violent threat from one of the speakers: “Kenosha speaker: ‘If you kill one of us, it’s time for us to kill one of yours.’”
According to The New York Times, Thompson claimed the headline was deceptive as it quoted one man whose thoughts contrasted those of the attendees and other speakers at the event. He said he sent a text message to Kenosha News executive editor Bob Heisse to express his disappointment with the title of the story and reluctance to continue on with the paper.
“I don’t even know if I can associate with the company after that… I need to calm down, but I wanted you to know immediately,” Thompson wrote along with a photo of the headline.
“Yes you should calm down. That is a public threat, and it is an exact quote at a rally that was to that point totally on message,” Heisse responded, prompting the journalist to quit his job.
Thompson later posted a Facebook video providing reasons for his departure.
“I did what I did because today is about Jacob Blake, it’s about his family. It’s about moving forward to gather peacefully, and I saw that today,” he said. “That headline did not reflect it and when they refused to change it, I quit.”
He touched on the matter once again in an interview with The Times.
“The story is about the entire reaction of all the speakers and people in attendance, and that quote is one outlier falling within a flood of positive ones,” he said. “The things that frustrated me most is Mr. Blake, Jacob Blake’s father, himself personally, called for a night of peace, of no destruction, no riots.”
The Kenosha News has since changed the headline of the story to “Kenosha speaker strays from message at rally.”