Local newspaper apologizes for controversial cover art

Local newspaper apologizes for controversial cover art

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We are exactly one week away from Savannah's runoff elections, and Monday, Mayor Edna Jackson and challenger Eddie DeLoach met for another debate.

One of the big topics was the most recent cover of "Connect Savannah". Many are condemning the image (members of the runoff election depicted in Norman Rockwell's "Freedom from Want" or the "Thanksgiving Picture" painting) as offensive, insensitive and disrespectful to the mayor.

Both candidates where asked what they think about the cover, and they both agreed that an apology is in order.

"I don't know what I was supposed to be, but it is all about respecting me in this position and honesty, but I really felt like it was a racist attack," said Mayor Jackson.

"It's like a lot of other things. It's just, you would think some people would think, but obviously they did not and it's hurt the mayor and they need an apology and they need to go forward with it," said DeLoach.

To view the image, click here.

"Connect Savannah" has since apologized for the cover on their Facebook page with the following statement:

"We're sorry. WE MESSED UP. BIG TIME.

Here's the deal: Our most recent cover has generated a lot of anger and concern. We wanted to share an explanation of why we published the cover and also our respect for and acknowledgement of the anger it has caused.

As what is usually considered "Savannah's liberal paper," we assure you no racism or sexism was intended. The cover is based on the often-parodied, iconic painting by Norman Rockwell called "Freedom From Want" (see image). The image depicts an all-American family. The woman holding the turkey in the original painting is not a servant, but the respected head of the household.

Our intent was to depict all the candidates in the runoff as one big happy family who squabble with each other but in the end work together. In the planning process we believed the homage to the Rockwell painting to be a solid visual representation of bringing all candidates together in a comical fashion for the holiday.

However we clearly miscalculated that Mayor Jackson might be interpreted as a servant or in an inferior position. The effect was far from what we hoped to achieve.

We misjudged the humor aspects, badly. We apologize without reservations for the anger and pain we've caused and the harm we have done to a community trying hard to come together.

This cover concept clearly was not adequately thought through. It's something we now recognize and take responsibility for.
We promise to do better, much better, in the future and regard this as a teachable moment for our staff and the paper.

Connect Savannah exists to unite and inform Savannahians of all walks of life. Obviously in this case, we failed in that mission.

Let us be clear: Mayor Jackson is a talented public administrator of the City of Savannah, who's dedicated her life and career to doing the best for our city and to the cause of Civil Rights. While there will always be people who disagree with any public official, none of that diminishes the fact that Mayor Jackson is a smart, dedicated woman who has, through her own hard work, risen to a notable and respectable position in our city. WE SINCERELY APOLOGIZE TO MAYOR EDNA JACKSON FOR ANY SLIGHT WE HAVE CAST ON HER PROFESSIONALISM AND HER CAREER, AND ON HER PERSONALLY."

Mayor Edna Jackson contacted WTOC's Don Logana by phone following the debate. She had not seen Connect Savannah's apology yet. After hearing it in it's entirety, she called it "a very nice letter."

Copyright 2015 WTOC. All rights reserved.