The following is the content of my letter to the editor of the LA Weekly in regards to their article on the upcoming Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree. Thomas brought the horrible photo that they displayed next to the article to our attention through the GeneaBloggers website.
I cannot believe the irresponsibility of your newspaper in running such an obviously inappropriate and offensive photo next to an article about an upcoming event in your area! The photo shows a complete lack of respect shown to your readers!
The genealogy event in question attracts many people from around the country to your area to attend classes in genealogy from well-respected scholarly people to discuss a hobby that is well-respected and enjoyed by people from all walks of life in all areas of the world. People whose interests include genealogy come from every profession and every socio-economic background.
The photo chosen was a stereotypical photo of “hillbillies” and implies that the discovery of hillbilly relatives would be something of which to be ashamed. The people who should be ashamed are the employees of your newspaper who allowed such a photo to make it into your paper! I am not even going to discuss the implications of the tagline of the photo! I come from a long line of “hillbillies” and “hicks” in Arkansas! Those people were good church-going folks who believed in raising their families with Christian values and respect for others! My “hillbilly” ancestors would never have shown such disrespect and contempt for people who were going to visit our area!
What is the corporate culture of your organization to allow such an offensive photo to make it all the way to distribution of the newspaper?
I also would like to comment that the photo appears to be one lifted from the internet! Your journalists don’t even understand the concepts of copyright? I think that perhaps the people in charge of your newspaper should take a good long look at the people employed there and perhaps institute some organizational education in respecting your readers and the copyright laws of our nation!
I also think that an apology should be immediately included in your newspaper and that you should show your respect for the genealogy event that you so completely disrespected!