I am writing to express my extreme disappointment at the way the Portland Press Herald described allegations of racist harassment by Florida tourist Randall Hunt against Shay Stewart-Bouley.

In particular, I take issue with three aspects of the coverage. First, by making reference to the topic of Ms. Stewart-Bouley’s conversation, the paper wrongly insinuates that this is somehow relevant to the racist behavior of Mr. Hunt. Second, the paper published a photo of Ms. Stewart-Bouley, rather than the perpetrator who was arrested for his behavior. Moreover, the photo was accompanied by Ms. Stewart-Bouley’s name and personal information, subjecting her and her family to substantial risk of further targeting. Third, the story notes that Ms. Stewart-Bouley was the “victim in another racial incident.” This insinuates that Ms. Stewart-Bouley is the problem here, i.e. for consistently drawing attention to racist harassment that black people experience on a regular basis in Maine. Combined, this serves to make Ms. Stewart-Bouley appear to be partially at fault for Mr. Hunt’s racist behavior. This is wrong.

I realize that the paper has already made some adjustments to the web version of the story after the print version was released. However, this is not sufficient. A great deal of damage has already been done that can’t be easily undone. Ms. Stewart-Bouley deserves a printed apology from the paper. Further, I hope that this will prompt greater reflection and awareness among the writers and editorial staff with regard to how they frame stories dealing with race in the future.

Meaghan Daly

Biddeford

Note from the editor:

We erred in the way we presented Saturday’s story about a racist incident on Peaks Island. We should not have used Shay Stewart-Bouley’s photo, and we should have focused more on the suspect than on her. When we realized our errors in judgment Saturday morning, we immediately made changes to the online version of the story. We are discussing the lapses and will address them so they can be avoided in the future. We offer our apology to Ms. Stewart-Bouley.

Cliff Schechtman

Executive Editor

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