By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The newly launched Boston Guardian sparks a controversy

Looks like David Jacobs, publisher of the now-defunct Boston Courant and the new Boston Guardian, may have stepped in it. The Bay State Banner, which serves the African-American community, is blasting the Guardian on its Facebook page for heedlessly recycling the name of a historically prominent black newspaper. Here’s what the Banner has to say:

The paper formerly known as Back Bay Courant has relaunched as a paper called Boston Guardian. Are they clueless about the legacy of that is Boston’s first black newspaper founded by William Monroe Trotter. Is our history so unimportant that they would take this name to serve Back Bay residents?? Melvin Miller didn’t even use the name when he founded the Banner as the legacy of the Guardian. We have a front page of the Guardian framed on the wall of our office. This is beyond disrespectful.

Hat tip to Universal Hub. Above is our discussion about the Guardian on Beat the Press last Friday, in which we reviewed the Guardian‘s unusual origins: Jacobs shut down the Courant after he lost a court settlement and then launched the Guardian under new corporate ownership.

Update: The Bay State Banner has posted an editorial headlined “An affront to Boston’s Black History.”

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  1. Mike Benedict

    Honestly, how many different names are realistically used by papers? The same names are recycled endlessly. No one complains when a kid is named after Jackie Robinson, or even Walter Robinson.

  2. The Boston Courant and now I anticipate The Guardian was and will not a contributing member of Boston’s downtown neighborhoods. It provided few services that a newspaper should provide to the community it serves. The refusal of the publisher to publish an on-line edition because it cost some money was insulting and revealed how little the publisher felt he owed his readers in the territory he covered. He cow-towed to the local elected officials when (on very rare occasions)it came to covering a news story of relevance and importance to the neighborhood. In particular, important neighborhood stories that might counter the image of the paper serving affluent readers only were ignored unless a great deal of pressure by the right people was brought to bear. Aside from my interest in the real estate closings and anecdotally the crime reports, the paper was on no interest or use to me. I read it in the bathroom and if the washing machine overflowed I used the pile of Courants that collected in my recycling bin to sop it up.

  3. Kenneth Cooper

    It’s cultural appropriation, without the barest bit of recognition of the historic Boston Guardian, which is not only part of the city’s history, but the nation’s. That paper had a national impact. Shameless and most disrespectful.

  4. Peter Sullivan

    There are literally hundreds of different Guardian Newspapers around the world (Google it).
    It is a generic name like the Times or Herald,etc……. To claim ownership of the name based on skin color is a bit ridiculous.. I think, if you are looking hard enough to be offended you can usually find something to be offended by.

    • Kenneth Cooper

      There was only one Guardian newspaper published in Boston before now, so the geographic context matters. Curious too there had been only one Courant published in Boston until the recently closed one, and that too was a black-owned paper. Also, Peter, black people don’t have to go looking for offense, it presents itself without a search much too often already.

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