Why this difficult story had to be told
Why did we do it? Why did we devote so much time, effort and front-page space to a story many Nova Scotians considered over and done with?
Because newspapers have a responsibility to tackle important issues, that’s why.
Not all readers agreed with our coverage of the cross-burning incident and the story of the misguided Rehberg brothers. Some felt it was too much, that there’s no problem with racism in Nova Scotia, that it was just two drunken louts on a spree.
If that was the case, then how did a black cultural centre get torched? Why was boxer Kirk Johnson repeatedly pulled over and questioned by police?
How do we explain racist graffiti,
or cops accused of baiting black kids in Digby? There is a problem and we can’t ignore it just because we fear stirring up old resentments.
To be sure, many readers congratulated the paper for taking on a serious topic and covering it in detail. Now, as the series wraps up, it’s time to make clear that the key factor behind our coverage wasn’t whether people would cheer or jeer. We did the story because it is important to shine light on dark events, to tackle a painful issue that has long divided Nova Scotians.
Nova Scotia Burning also gave us the opportunity to explore a new form of journalism for The Chronicle Herald, through an online documentary video. We wanted to demonstrate how modern newspapers can tell stories in unconventional ways. We’re proud of what resulted and we promise you’ll see more of this innovative form of storytelling in the weeks to come.
When you get right down to it, newspapers exist to tell stories. Our role is to investigate, question and challenge. We feel we did that within Nova Scotia Burning, perhaps imperfectly, but with the unabashed goal of tackling a difficult topic in an honest and thorough fashion. Thanks for reading.
Dan Leger is The Chronicle Herald’s director of news content