The Sunderland Echo has received a response from the writer of a “slur” article about the city in the New York Times.
The piece in question appeared shortly after the Referendum, with the journalist trying to find out why Sunderland overwhelmingly voted to leave the European Union.
The Echo’s managing editor, Gavin Foster, responded to the piece, saying that it was “irresponsible” and that it was “insulting coverage of our great city.”
He continued: “It was an ill-informed, inaccurate, narrow-minded and irresponsible view of what is, although challenged, a vibrant and forward-thinking city. And it’s our city.”
The paper had a full-page splash and spoke to a number of high profile local business leaders to back the city and called for the reporter to make an apology to the city of Sunderland.
This morning, Kimiko De Freytas-Tamura did just that, saying that she was sorry if her article had upset the city’s residents, however, she is standing by it.
“My intention was not to upset residents of Sunderland nor to paint it in bad light; it was to understand why people overwhelmingly voted Leave when its economy seems to be tied to Nissan, the largest employer in the region, and EU funding.
“What I discovered was there were a lot of people who felt, despite those benefits, that they were being left behind by globalization, by mainstream political parties, and a city still feeling the effects of Thatcher’s policies.
“They had nothing to lose by voting out because they had nothing to gain from globalisation in the first place — that was the sentiment I was aiming to capture.”
Foster said that they accepted the apology, but felt it still didn’t go far enough:
“What we as a city took exception with was the selective and biased way the city was portrayed and the type of language and vocabulary which made it appear we lived in Victorian Britain.
“This is the New York Times – this image of great city will travel around the world. It was inaccurate and irresponsible. We have sent the reporter and the Times a copy of today’s paper and responses from our community.
“We are still asking for a redress and have extended a further invite for a return to the city. We await a response.”