By Guy Page
The tweet provides a link to a Massachusetts news website story on “the top 25 places to live in Massachusetts.” Above the link she comments, “Ugh another whitewashed Boston piece. This is what happens when white people make news according to their income and (limited) interests.” She comments beneath, “These are all extremely wealthy communities that maybe 5% can afford to live or buy in. They are also largely boring and full of white people and entitlement.”
Taken on face value, her comments appear to link white skin color with being boring, wealthy, and entitled. Vermont Daily emailed VTDigger publisher Anne Galloway last week to comment on Guha’s tweets. No reply has been received.
According to the March 17 announcement, “Guha will join veteran journalists Jim Welch and Tom Kearney as a senior editor of VTDigger, working closely with writers from pitch to publication.”
In other words, readers may not see her byline, but they will see her influence in story selection, angle, choice of language, etc.. Maybe VTDigger wants Guha to bring more racial and gender diversity and national and international news gathering balance to the senior leadership team? Welch and Kearney are both reputable, veteran journalists with extensive Vermont experience. Welch was a helpful, approachable editor when I interned at the Burlington Free Press in 1979.
One certainly can’t blame Guha’s racially-charged tweet on journalistic inexperience. The March 17 story lists her resume:
“Most recently, Guha served as northeast regional reporter for Rewire.News, focusing on social justice issues across New England. Prior to that, Guha worked for several Massachusetts newspapers, including the New Bedford Standard-Times, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle. Guha, who has a master’s degree in journalism from Emerson College, got her start reporting for television and print news organizations in Mumbai, India.”
She was let go from Rewire.com in 2019 as a seeming victim of union busting, according to a GoFundMe page by Rewire.News Union. (VT Digger is no stranger to apparent union-related dismissals. Former political reporter John Walters reportedly linked his departure with taking a leadership role in the VT Digger union.)
The ‘boring’ tweet isn’t the only comment that makes one wonder why Guha took a job in Vermont. On March 20 she tweeted about a good Maryland vaccine program, “and people wonder why I constantly dream about living outside of New England.” (Although in all fairness, by mid-March many life-long Vermonters also dream about living elsewhere, too.)
Guha’s hiring by VTDigger raises some questions. For example: does she have negative stereotypes about white people? Does she find white people “entitled” and “boring?” Boring is a real problem for journalists and their subjects. Boring people by definition have nothing interesting to say. Boring people get ignored. Vermont is 94.2% white. Has she mentally written off most or all of 94.2% of Vermont as boring, uninteresting, and having nothing worthwhile to say?
One would hope not. Perhaps her tweet merely swung and missed at making a more subtle point about the need for more diverse media coverage. Vermont Daily welcomes a response from VT Digger or Ms. Guha herself. All Vermonters can agree that it would be unconscionably racist for a reporter to tweet negative comments about a community “full of BIPOC people.” Yet recently a UVM professor was pressured to resign for protesting the anti-Whiteness campaign at UVM. Is it okay to single out white people for criticism? Why, or why not? Your constructive, civil thoughts are welcome on the comments section below this news story.