Rapid City Journal 'deeply regrets' pain caused by headline

Posted by Mary Hudetz on 02/02/2015

The Rapid City Journal has released a statement addressing a troubling headline that ran on its front page Saturday, as the paper pushed forward with coverage over how Native students were the target of insults and other deplorable actions at a hockey game.

NAJA appreciate Executive Editor Bart Pfankuch's prompt attention to the problems posed by the story that ran under the headline "Did Native kids stand for National Anthem?" after NAJA emailed him this weekend. The headline was irresponsible and the story flawed, but the Journal has begun to take the steps necessary to responsibly address the situation. Pfankuch has our respect for his efforts.

NAJA also supports the Journal's continued efforts to keep the public informed on the ongoing case involving the incident at the hockey game.

Our thoughts are with the children and families who have had to endure so much adversity in the past week, and we hope the community and all involved will be better served by accurate and timely reporting in the days and weeks ahead.

Pfankuch's full statement published at www.rapidcityjournal.com:

A justifiable anger has resulted from a headline that appeared in the Rapid City Journal on Saturday, Jan. 31. It is now abundantly clear that the headline about the National Anthem is troubling to this community and our readers.

To some, the headline signified that there was a justification for the harassment of Native American students at the Rush hockey game on Saturday, Jan 24.  This was not our intent. There is no justification for such racist behavior. There can never be any justification for the appalling way those students and their chaperones were treated at the game.  

Questions also have been raised about the use of an anonymous source in the article. On the day the article was written, the business owner who rents the suite where the harassment took place — who was neither present nor involved — received a death threat. Publishing the name of the other source could have put that person and his family, who also reportedly had nothing to do with the harassment, in harm’s way. If law enforcement officials release the names of those responsible, we will be publish that information.

The Rapid City Journal deeply regrets the pain this headline has caused to our community and pledges to continue our efforts to fight racism and other social ills.

The Saturday, Jan. 31, front page of the Rapid City Journal.