Author Archives: Roy Malone

Avis Meyer outlasts St. Louis U. adversary

Though he has announced his retirement, Prof. Avis Meyer will still advise student journalists putting out the U. News at St. Louis University. But for a four-year stretch earlier this decade, he was barred from the newsroom by SLU President Rev. Lawrence Biondi, who apparently saw Meyer as his nemesis.

After 43 years of teaching journalism and writing courses, Meyer will teach part-time in an emeritus role and continue to mentor students. During his newsroom exile students met with him privately for his writing and headlines advice.

Biondi, 78, is retired and reportedly has been transferred to Chicago by the Jesuits. He was lauded by his board of directors, alumni and St. Louis civic leaders as a builder for the university over his 25-year presidency and for helping to preserve the mid-city area around the campus on Grand Avenue.

But many of the school’s professors rose up against him a few years ago for the way he treated faculty and subordinates. One member of the Faculty Senate called Meyer “Exhibit A” among those who Biondi targeted.

Meyer said he usually was blamed whenever Biondi saw something objectionable in the U. News. Meyer said he never proposed articles for the students to write, including one that disclosed Biondi once delivered a personal-story homily that was very similar to one given by a priest in California.

Meyer, 73, was never officially named newspaper adviser, but fulfilled that role by invitation from students for a number of years. Meyer worked part time as a copy editor at the Post-Dispatch for 23 years. He can name in chronological order the names of 41 past student editors he has worked with. He knows where many are living and working today as they stay in touch with him. The current editor, Paul Brunkhorst, was not around for the Meyer-Biondi jousting, but once told Meyer, “He’s gone. You’re still here.”

Administrators suggested Meyer’s name not be listed as adviser in the paper, but editors left it there. A few other professors were appointed as advisers to the paper, but they either weren’t accepted by the staff or decided not to continue. When it looked as if the paper might be pushed off campus, Meyer sought to preserve the name by getting it documented with the Missouri Secretary of State. This was a mistake by Meyer, and a costly one. Biondi hired a big downtown law firm to sue Meyer over copyright infringement. The litigation drained Meyer of more than $100,000 in legal fees and U. News ran a cartoon calling it a frivolous lawsuit. A spokesman for Biondi criticized Meyer saying he thinks he “owns the newspaper.”

Meyer, who saw his salary largely frozen, has tenure and said this was the reason he was not fired. But tenure doesn’t protect against plagiarism. He learned that someone in the administration was checking in the library on his dissertation about well-known authors who had started as newspaper writers. The apparent search for plagiarism was fruitless as Meyer had attributed key elements in his footnotes.

Meyer is a film buff. He also loves old cars (he’s had 40). He has a 1949 Buick Roadmaster and recently bought a seven-year-old Mercedes Benz listed for $145,000 new. He paid about one-fourth of that. “That V-12 is the most beautiful sedan I’ve ever seen,’’ he said. “It’s my retirement gift to myself.”

Asked how he felt about the Biondi years, he responded, “There was once resentment and anxiety. Now it’s relief.”

Editor’s note:  Meyer’s retirement party will be held on Tuesday, April 30, 2016.

The Mission By Joseph Pulitzer In 1945

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It was 70 years ago that Joseph Pulitzer, editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reported from Europe that the holocaust was far worse than the American public had been told. He came back to Missouri to launch an information project to disclose the extent of the Nazi atrocities.

He was stunned to view the two German death camps that he visited – Buchenwald and Dachau. “The brutal fiendishness of these operations defies description,” he wrote.

At the time, Pulitzer was revered as one of the best newspaper editors in the nation. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch earned nine Pulitzer Prizes during his 44-year tenure as publisher and editor. He was the son of the famous Joseph Pulitzer who had founded the Post-Dispatch in 1878 and also the Pulitzer Prizes in journalism.

This second Pulitzer was one of 18 editors from newspapers and magazines who were invited by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to view the evidence of the death camps. He said that before going he was aware of the controversy that existed between those decrying the killing of Jewish citizens and those who called it just propaganda and denied that Germany could have done something so horrible.

But after viewing the camps and seeing the corpses, Pulitzer in a bylined dispatch to the paper, said: “It is my grim duty to report that the descriptions of the horrors of the camp (Buchenwald), one of many which have been and will be uncovered by the Allied Armies, have given less than the whole truth…. They have been far worse than previously reported.”

He was there for two weeks, just after World War II ended, and wrote several articles which were later compiled in a book called “A Report to the American People.” He called Adolf Hitler “This miserable freak of nature who came to power in 1933 ,” but said “the members of the German General Staff are the guiltiest of all the war criminals….they should be be properly tried and when found guilty, be sentenced and shot.” When they are “under the sod the prospects for World War III will be substantially reduced.”

He also blamed the Gestapo, S.S., industrialists and financiers. He said the majority of the German population had to know what was going on. Intellectuals and democratic advocates were also targeted. The goals of the Nazi regime were to overpower other states and their populations and to exterminate anti-fascist opponents, he said.

“More than 7,500,000 men, women and children died of abuse or were killed outright; most died in some 100 concentration camps,” he reported. He quoted an official in Antwerp as saying: “Hitler didn’t create Germany. Germany created Hitler.”

Pulitzer was so obsessed with describing this dark chapter of history that he knew what he must do. He launched an information campaign that included U.S. Army Signal Corps films and large photos of the atrocities. They were shown at public places in St. Louis and elsewhere such as libraries, banks, large businesses, Kiel Auditorium and other venues. He discussed the mass killings on local radio stations. Pulitzer even spoke in Washington and before the Missouri Legislature in Jefferson City. Transcripts were made available to schools and more than 50,000 persons who saw the exhibits were given pamphlets documenting the atrocities.

One of Pulitzer’s goals was to put an end to the denials. He said people who refuse to believe what happened “should go to their doctors to have their heads examined and also their hearts.”

Author’s note: Roy Malone is a retired reporter from the Post-Dispatch.

Scandals will fade but lobbying still drives the Missouri legislature

A series of sex scandals that revealed tawdry affairs among top officials in Missouri’s state capital made for titillating reading this summer and stirred up a controversy about journalistic ethics.

Sex scandals in Jefferson City are nothing new, say veteran statehouse reporters. Bad behavior by lawmakers and lobbyists has plagued the legislature for a century.

What is new is the social media technology that ensnares straying legislators and the willingness of the press to name names. The decision by the Post-Dispatch’s veteran and highly regarded statehouse reporter, Virginia Young, to name a female former aide of the governor’s who was involved in a night of hard drinking, attracted national comment and criticism.

The business of lawmaking – and it often is controlled by business – has always involved politics and money – gifts by lobbyists, and campaign contributions. Many lawmakers, cajoled by the lobbyists into thinking they are hot stuff, take all the freebies they can – tickets to sporting and cultural events, free meals, liquor, travel, you name it. All they have to do is vote the way they’re told.

Add to that the sexual affairs some lawmakers think they are entitled to when they are away from home four days a week when the legislature is in session. They figure they’ll behave again when they return home.

Two legislators who resigned this summer were attracted to legislative interns – college girls — in their offices. Both were middle-aged and married family men.

The first, who resigned in July, was Speaker of the House John Diehl, a Republican from St. Louis County. An intern saved text messages from him and said he had propositioned her. The messages made for juicy reading in the Kansas City Star and then in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The next to resign, a few weeks later, was state Sen. Paul LeVota, a Democrat from Independence. An intern accused him of sexual harassment by propositioning her. Another intern made similar accusations during the time she worked in LeVota’s office five years earlier.

In between these scandals, the Post-Dispatch reported on a possible rape case in Jefferson City involving a former aide to Gov. Jay Nixon. She said she had an affair with Diehl, though it had ended. She is a 31-year-old lobbyist who contacted police after a night of drinking and partying. She said she had a blackout and thought she had been raped, but wasn’t sure. Neither were police, who interviewed a number of people, including Diehl. Police ended the investigation due to “lack of victim cooperation.” Her lawyer later said she did cooperate with police.

The Post-Dispatch story about the alleged rape named the woman, based on the police report. The paper was criticized for naming a possible rape victim.

The Riverfront Times, an alternative weekly in St. Louis said the Post was wrong and had “shamed” the woman. The Poynter Institute ran a story saying that naming the woman made it appear she was not raped. It added: “It’s not the job of the media to judge whether someone was or wasn’t sexually assaulted.” The Columbia Journalism Review said Young should have conducted an off-the-record interview with the woman, which Young had declined to do.

A Post political editor, Christopher Ave, defended the story saying it had “political significance.” He said the Post relied on the police report which showed “no evidence of a crime.”

Young had omitted parts of the police report unfavorable to the behavior of the woman. Young declined to comment on the story except to say she did not regret writing it. Young has been a top reporter at the Post-Dispatch for decades. She recently announced her retirement.

Regardless of who is right, Young’s reporting was notable for exposing shenanigans in the legislative culture, something the media has largely ignored over the years. Many veteran reporters can recall “sexcapades,” drunkenness and other misdeeds of legislators that never got reported. Fred Lindecke, a longtime legislative reporter for the Post, put it this way: “The code was that we didn’t use it” if it didn’t affect the person’s official duties.

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The full article will be included in the forthcoming print issue of GJR.

Pathologist challenges quotes in Ferguson leak

The killing of Michael Brown Jr. in August by a white Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, has produced a stream of controversial local and national news stories that portray the unarmed black teen as either the victim of police violence or a thug who got what he deserved in a “good shoot” by the officer.

A recent story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes a forensic pathologist, Dr. Judy Melinek of San Francisco, as viewing Brown’s autopsy report and saying that Brown was shot in the hand while struggling with the officer at his car and was “going for the gun.” She is also quoted as saying the several shots fired at Brown after he ran, did not show he had his hands up (as in surrendering) as several eyewitnesses have said.

Trouble is, Melinek says her words were taken out of context and they are inconsistent with the comments she emailed to the reporters Christine Byers and Blythe Bernhard. Melinek said their report was “misleading and inaccurate.”

The Post-Dispatch’s report was picked up by other media, including the AP and Washington Post. Melinek had to try to correct them. She appeared on MSNBC’s show with host Lawrence O’Donnell who criticized the Post-Dispatch  report saying it was aimed as corroborating the police officer’s account of why he shot Brown. O’Donnell noted that Post reporter Byers, who covers crime, had tweeted earlier that she was told by police they had a dozen witnesses defending Wilson. She did this while on family leave and her report was not used by the Post.

The Washington Post ran an editor’s note saying Melinek said she was quoted incorrectly.  The Post-Dispatch said she was quoted correctly. This week it attached an editor’s note stating that Melinek had said the autopsy “supports Officer Darren Wilson’s statement that Brown was reaching for the gun but that other scenarios are possible.”

The leaking of information by law enforcement sources has been mostly favorable to the scenario attributed to Officer Wilson. This has caused U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to say he was “exasperated” that the leaks were an apparent attempt to justify the shooting of Brown.

The growing opinion of protesters in Ferguson, and supporters of Wilson, is that he will not be charged by a St. Louis County Grand jury. Officials of six school districts, fearing violence if and when such an announcement is made, have asked the county prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, to announce it when school is not in session.

St. Louis acts to address wrongful arrests

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated.

The St. Louis Police Department has instituted a new mobile fingerprint identification system in its North, South and Central Area Stations, as well as at the St. Louis City Justice Center, to help avoid wrongful arrests, according to Chief Sam Dotson.

The new fingerprint technology was put into the stations after a series in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year maintaining that about 100 people had been arrested mistakenly over a seven-year period, serving a total of 2,000 days in jail.

Robert Patrick and Jennifer Mann, the Post-Dispatch reporters on the series, wrote that modern fingerprint identification could have prevented some wrongful arrests.

Among the cases cited in the series was one involving a city bus driver who was arrested in front of her crying children and jailed because her name was similar to another woman who had died months before. This was the result of a clerical error, but she lost her home, savings and her job, temporarily.

On March 4, without fanfare, the department launched its new Mobile Automated Fingerprint Identification System at its three area patrol stations and prisoner processing at the city’s downtown jail.  The mobile units allow police to take fingerprints on a small wireless scanning device that returns prompt results from the Missouri Highway Patrol and FBI fingerprint records. Dotson said a few mobile devices are being used by officers on patrol and more will be added so prints could be taken, on a voluntary basis, from persons at crime scenes, disasters and on the street.

Chief Dotson said he had been working on a new electronic fingerprint I.D. system even before the Post articles came out. Planning and pilot stages occurred prior to the stories and the system was fully implemented after publication, he said.

“People lie to us on occasion,” and use aliases,  he said. “We always want to make sure we know who we have,” and that means to check fingerprints “at the very front end of the incarceration process.”

While the Post and city disagree about the accuracy of some of the cases cited by the Post-Dispatch, mayoral aide Eddie Roth says improvements have been made and will continue to be made to reduce risks of error. Roth, a former police board president and Post editorial writer, has criticized the Post stories on Facebook, Twitter and in stories in GJR.

“The mis-identifications are rare. Our goal is to get to zero,” Roth said. “Our system is not perfect, but it is strong.” He said the reporters rightfully pursued an important cultural issue (wrongful arrests) but he didn’t think the stories were fair.  Roth thought the numbers of misidentifications were exaggerated, most of the cases were old and that reporters did not heed warnings that their research methods were flawed because they did not have access to all relevant records.

Patrick said the mayor’s office and circuit attorney mounted “a successful PR campaign” to downplay any harm done and “it changed the discussion to – is the story right?’

In one case the Post said a man was jailed when he had not been. A brother used the man’s name and it was the brother who was jailed. The Post corrected the mistake that had been based on city records that were incorrect. Patrick accepted the blame for not having interviewed the man.

The Board of Aldermen, state legislature, civil rights groups and many judges didn’t urge new rules to curb the wrongful arrest problem. The Post editorial page has been silent on it, though the paper’s editor Gilbert Bailon has strongly defended the stories. Lawyers are working on a federal class-action suit, but class certification initially was denied.

Student paper at Webster University faces cuts

The longtime student newspaper at Webster University, the Journal, was facing an uncertain future this spring as the administration’s budget ax was about to swing.

The weekly Journal, reporting on its own chances of survival, said its 30 issues a year might be cut to four or five in the 2015 budget, and the number of student staffers receiving pay could be cut from 10 to two.

Some students and faculty believe the administration is upset over controversial stories the Journal has done, and one way of putting a clamp on the upstart newspaper is through the budget. But this is disputed by Webster’s public relations spokesman, Patrick Giblin.

Eric Rothenbuhler, dean of the School of Communications, said in an email to Gateway Journalism Review March 31 that “the budget plans are still under discussion.” He added that when the university’s board of trustees finally approves the cuts in May, the story will be about “what we are doing to improve our journalism program and the student media here at Webster.”

The Journal has reported that Webster has predicted a budget shortfall for the second year in a row, and that the 2015 budget needs to be reduced by $6 million from last year’s budget. Webster’s total budget for the 2014 year was $221.4 million, with 95 percent of revenue coming from tuition. Webster has struggled with declining enrollments over the past few years, according to Journal stories.

Cuts also would be made for the Ampersand student magazine and the Galaxy student radio station. But the Journal cuts have aroused the most opposition among students, faculty and media advisers, causing a large turnout at a Student Government Association meeting in March.

Rothenbuhler told the Journal that when students heard about the proposed cuts, “it was unfortunate, but it happened.” He said his plan was to make the School of Communications “more digitally oriented” so as to follow other universities that are moving to digital student media.

“It is possible to save a little money on printing and shift some resources from print to digital,” Rothenbuhler was quoted as saying.

The faculty adviser for the Journal, Larry Baden, said the budget cuts proposed by Rothenbuhler would cut the Journal’s printing budget, going from about $30,000 a year to $5,000 a year, thereby reducing the number of issues to four or five.

“I’m greatly concerned,” Baden said. “It’s important there be a printed newspaper, and that people have access to it.”

He said he was not in favor of switching the Journal’s reporting to mainly digital media, because he believes not as many readers would go online. He also said he thinks the newspaper provides a better opportunity for the student journalists to learn about reporting, editing and layout.

Gabe Burns, a junior, will become the Journal’s editor-in-chief next year, but he wonders how he will be able to put together a staff if the budget cuts are made.

“It will severely hurt the program,” Burns said.

He noted that the Journal pulls in about $27,000 a year in advertising, with 70 percent going back to the university. He said he’s also concerned that most of the paid positions will be eliminated.

“It’s more than just the money,” Burns said of his newspaper experience. “It helps my education.”

He said the Journal is respected by students, faculty and university employees, and it keeps the campus community informed and entertained.

When asked if he thought the cuts might be less severe, Burns replied, “I’m hopeful, but not optimistic.”

Some believe the Journal’s aggressive reporting have made it a target. Here are some stories that may have rankled school officials:

  • The university bought replacement homes to house its president, Elizabeth Stroble, and its provost, Julian Schuster, costing $935,000 and $385,000, respectively.
  • The university spent heavily to establish a chess team by luring grandmaster Susan Polgar and her team from Texas Tech.
  • Funding was found for two associate dean positions in the School of Communications.
  • A professor at the Geneva campus of Webster University was charged, along with three others, in the slaying of a man in California. She is in custody awaiting trial.

Some observers think the Journal is quick to shine an unfavorable light on the administration, but they add that administration officials are too thin-skinned and can’t tolerate criticism. Rothenbuhler, who students think is not well-versed in newspapering, and Baden have been at loggerheads, with Rothenbuhler coming to the Journal office to voice his concerns regarding stories.

Baden said there often is contention between university student newspapers and school officials.

“I’ve been assured that this (controversial stories) has nothing to do with what’s being proposed,” he said. “I’m hopeful that’s the case.”

The Rev. Biondi: Still swinging away

image-meyerThe Rev. Lawrence Biondi, as outgoing president of St. Louis University, used his last monthly newsletter to take a final swing at a professor he’s battled for more than two decades.

The two-page rant, against Avis Meyer, was near the end of Biondi’s long missive to faculty, staff, students and others. But it was longer than any of the other subjects he discussed during his 25-year tenure as head of the Jesuit university.

Meyer outlasted Biondi’s attempts to dis­lodge him as unofficial adviser to the student newspaper, the University News. Meyer was ordered never to set foot in the newspaper’s office. But the student journalists respect Meyer and meet separately with him to get his editing advice for each issue. Meyer said Biondi blamed him for any articles he sees as critical of him or SLU.

In the newsletter, Biondi rehashed his criticism of Meyer, whom SLU sued in fed­eral court for copyright infringement several years ago. Meyer had sought to incorporate the newspaper’s name when it appeared it might be driven off the campus. When this didn’t happen, Meyer relinquished the name. Nevertheless, Biondi instigated the lawsuit six weeks later, hiring a large law firm to go after Meyer. After 18 months the suit was settled out of court, with Biondi claiming victory and blaming Meyer, who had to spend more than $100,000 defending himself and give up $6,000 from a summer course he taught. (“I’m broke,” Meyer said). SLU, it is estimated, spent more than three times what Meyer did on the lawsuit, which a U. News cartoon called “frivolous.”

In a newsletter three years ago, Biondi wrote: “The court’s order shows that Dr. Meyer is responsible for all that has trans­pired … and led to a lengthy court case that the university would rather have avoided.” The U. News called this explanation “mean spirited” and noted Biondi never mentioned that Meyer had relinquished the newspaper’s name six weeks before the lawsuit was filed. And Biondi still didn’t mention that fact in his last newsletter attack on Meyer.

Biondi’s moves against the newspaper, and Meyer, had always been carried out by his subordinates. (The two men never talked to each other). Many SLU administrators were forced out over the years, including Joseph Weixlman, the provost who had to tell Meyer he was barred from the newsroom.

While members of the SLU’s board of directors saw the friendly and efficient side of Biondi, staff and faculty members expressed fear about getting on his angry side. Meyer openly called him a bully.

Yet many faculty members earlier this year rose up to produce a no-confidence vote against Biondi. This led to his announcement in May that he would resign the presidency, which he did as of Sept. 1. Still, there are reports that out­spoken professors on Biondi’s enemies list were being punished through denial of ordinary pay raises, which Biondi controlled.

Biondi has called his critics “isolated mal­contents.” He said he will take a yearlong sab­batical; Bill Kauffman, a Biondi confidant and general counsel for SLU, will be interim presi­dent, apparently until a new one is selected.

Biondi said in the newsletter he was responding to a letter to the editor in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in August by Charles Klotzer, founder of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Klotzer defended Meyer, criticized the lawsuit and called Biondi vindictive, uncaring and self-absorbed. Biondi wrote: “I wish to clarify for the general public and our own SLU community the comments in Mr. Klotzer’s letter.”

Biondi wrote: “The university sought to resolve the matter amicably and, in fact, participated in mediation with Dr. Meyer. Only after these attempts at resolution were unsuc­cessful did the university file a lawsuit.” Meyer disputes this, saying, “That’s not my memory of what happened. There was no purpose for the lawsuit. I had already relinquished the name. They wanted to ignore that.”

One former administrator, Phil Lyons, had to tell Meyer in the summer of 2006 that he was being removed as faculty adviser to the U. News, and that Meyer was being denied a $1,500 yearly stipend that came from ad revenues. Lyons said in an interview that he regretted what he was forced to do, especially since it came after Meyer’s grown son, Jason, had died of a congenital heart ail­ment on June 12, 2006.

At the time, Lyons was associate vice president for student development, chaired the U. News advisory board and oversaw the paper’s fiscal affairs. He said he requested that the action against Meyer be delayed because of the grieving that Meyer and his family were doing. An assistant to Biondi forwarded the request, but it came back that it had to be done without delay, Lyons said. He said he regretted doing it because he and the student journalists respected Meyer.

Lyons left the next year, after 15 years at SLU; he now is vice chancellor of administra­tion and student life services (chief financial officer) at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie.

Lyons said the warring between Biondi and the U. News dates back to the time SLU sold St. Louis University Hospital, and many in the community and at the university criti­cized Biondi for it.

“Biondi is a shrewd businessman and the university has prospered for it. … Biondi’s impact has been on bricks and mortar,” Lyons said, while others at the university have influenced students and their development. He said Biondi was good at handling SLU’s finances, and the fact that he spent so much to go after Meyer indicated “this meant quite a bit to him.”

As for Meyer, Lyons said that, with his tenure protection, “the only one who can remove Avis is Avis. … He’s the only one to take a punch from Biondi and is still standing.”

Editor’s note: Meyer is on GJR’s board of advisers.

Media History: The Jefferson Bank — St. Louis’ Selma

A protest 50 years ago this summer – beginning on Aug. 30, 1963 – pitted angry St. Louis business and civic leaders against young organizers of the Committee of Racial Equality who demanded more hiring of blacks by employers, especially the Jefferson Bank.

By the time the demonstrations stopped, and when legal actions ended almost four years later, about 500 persons had been arrested in civil disobedience actions at the bank and other businesses.

There was no violence, but there was a sea change in hiring of blacks. CORE leaders called it the most effective struggle for equal rights in the city’s history.

Jefferson Bank had two blacks among its 80 employees; one was a custodian and the other a messenger. It stubbornly refused to negotiate and got a restraining order against interference by picketers and sit-ins. Over the next few weeks the bank hired five more employees, all whites.

Violation of the court order led to 19 CORE members being jailed, convicted and sentenced to long terms and heavy fines.

One of those arrested was Norman Seay, a teacher and longtime civil rights activist. He said before the bank moved two blocks south, to Washington and Jefferson Avenues, from Franklin and Jefferson, it somehow got rid of its two black bank tellers.

“I guess by the process of osmosis those black tellers were eliminated,” he said.

Acts of civil disobedience were new to St. Louis. The demonstrations at the bank started two days after 250,000 people joined the March on Washington, demanding passage of civil rights legislation. Other civil rights groups, such as the local NAACP and Urban League, shunned CORE’s tactics.

A key leader in the bank demonstrations was William L. Clay, a young black city alderman. He received the longest of the sentences: 270 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. He often was criticized in the news media for breaking the law, and unsuccessful attempts were made to oust him as alderman. In 1968, he was elected Missouri’s first black congressman, serving 32 years.

Clay, in 1963, had published a 27-page survey called “Anatomy of an Economic Murder.” It contained data from major businesses in St. Louis on how many employees they had, and how many were blacks. He mailed letters of inquiry on his aldermanic stationery and said the results would be turned over to the mayor for his consideration in formulating a fair employment policy.

The survey showed 37 blacks out of 7,325 workers at breweries; 69 blacks out of 3,107 sales and office jobs at five department stores; 51 blacks among 1,505 at nine dairies; 279 blacks (most in menial jobs) among 1,303 soft-drink workers; 277 blacks (99 percent in minimum-wage jobs) of 5,133 at 16 banks; 22 blacks out of 2,141 at seven insurance companies; and 42 blacks out of 2,550 employees at the two major newspapers.

None of the five inner-city car dealers had a black salesman or mechanic. Neither of two industrial firms (each with 900 employees) had a single black on the payroll. No blacks worked as salespersons in downtown department stores, and no black drivers for beer, dairy and soft-drink companies. The electric, gas and telephone companies, employing thousands, did not hire black linemen, telephone operators, meter readers, stenographers or clerks.

Clay was criticized for the manner in which he got the data. The survey was embarrassing to the firms and to St. Louis, which had worked hard to polish its image as a progressive city in race relations.

While Jefferson Bank, which received city revenues, refused to change its hiring policy, other employers did, some out of fear they might be targeted by CORE. Black employment started to rise, and CORE gained more backers for its protests.

One tally showed 1,300 blacks had gained jobs as a direct result of the demonstrations.

The bar unsuccessfully tried to disbar two lawyers working with CORE. But a third CORE lawyer was disbarred on an allegation he thought was settled years earlier. Police had spies infiltrate CORE to snitch on the group’s plans.

Clay said of the news coverage: “The media was shameful in its biased coverage of the Jefferson Bank protests. The Post-Dispatch, Globe-Democrat, KMOX-TV, radio and the rest of the media became front organizations for the Establishment.” He said the media, except for the black weeklies, called the demonstrations a “disruptive attempt by a small group of radicals seeking to harm the solid advancement in the city’s race relations,” and were trying to intimidate businesses into hiring unqualified blacks.

He said the newspapers had no black reporters, ad salesmen or black pressmen.

“The most the Post could point to was a black receptionist,” he said. “There were no blacks as newsmen or women in radio or television. … These facts that the media refused to publicize were as clear as a goat’s behind going uphill on a clear day.”

“The Post, over and over,referred to the guilt and irresponsible (CORE) leadership and misguided defendants,” Clay added. And the Globe-Democrat tried to link CORE to communists.

Martin Duggan was a news editor at the Globe-Democrat at the time of the Jefferson Bank demonstrations. “We played it straight down the line,” he said of the news coverage. He said he thought civil disobedience was “a proper procedure to express a beef,” as long as it didn’t harm others.

Said Duggan: “I considered Jefferson Bank not a villain. Why did they go after Jefferson Bank? It was never a big player. Maybe it was easier to intimidate. … The whole thing was unfortunate. It put an unfavorable light on the city and banks.”

He added that “Bill Clay was always antagonistic to the Globe. The Globe never approved of his tactics.”

Clay published a book in 2008 called “The Jefferson Bank Confrontation, The Struggle for Civil Rights in St. Louis.” He is critical of circuit judge Michael Scott for his harsh sentencing. The CORE appeals went to the U.S. Supreme Court; in the meantime, Clay and others were released from jail. After thee years the high court declined to hear the case, and Clay and several others were ordered back to jail. Scott insisted the remaining time be served, but he offered to cancel it if the protesters apologized for their behavior. Some did, but Clay and two others refused; even so, they were released from jail.

Some rancor from the bank case remained. The front of the book shows Clay’s daughter Michelle picketing with a sign reading, “Give My Mom a Job.” Twenty years later, as a candidate for the Missouri Bar, she was interrogated about her role at the bank. She was 5 years old at the time.

Proceeds from the book have been used to assist about 280 students at 53 colleges.

Remaining CORE veterans from the bank demonstrations set Aug. 30 for a reunion at the History Museum in Forest Park.