The River Valley Times says it is parting ways with columnist Marcia Courson after last week’s column was read by many as advocating a curfew for black men.
“I spoke to Marcia this morning and let her know where I was going,” David Herburger, the newspaper’s general manager, said Monday morning. He said this week’s newspaper will have a number of letters to the editor on the topic and he will have an announcement in the spot where Courson’s column has appeared.
“So I’m looking for someone who has an opinion they might want to espouse to the community of Rancho Murieta,” he said.
Herburger said he heard from a number of unhappy Murietans on Friday.
“I think it’s fair to say the reaction is a fair reaction based on the opinions that she expressed,” he said. “The truth of the matter is, if I had done my job, in the absence of my editor, I would have edited that out. Either I would have pulled the entire column or I would have pulled out that one particular sentence.”
An online protest led by Murietan Carol Corbett mushroomed across the internet, prompting a Bee story Friday, followed by TV coverage that night. An online petition calling for Courson’s dismissal got nearly 250 signatures.
Although nominally about Rancho Murieta, Courson’s columns, which started in 2012, offered opinions on issues from local to national, often with viewpoints that reflect Courson’s standing as an active Republican.
She is a past director of Rancho Murieta Country Club and a former leader of the community’s Women’s Club.
In last week’s column, after invoking North Korea, Stormy Daniels and other items in the news, Courson settled on the subject of Stephon Clark, who was shot to death by Sacramento police last month, prompting a string of protests.
Her bottom line on the subject: “Police have to be careful not to overact, and you black men might be better off at home after a certain hour.”
Courson responded after this story was published, and her statement appears in the comments below.
“I apologize for giving the community a black eye,” Herburger said. “I wish I could have helped us duck and not taken that.”
Herburger Publications, based in Galt since 1959, publishes four weekly community newspapers in south Sacramento County and provides layout and printing for many publications. The River Valley Times, the smallest of the four, with a claimed free circulation of 5,600, serves Rancho Murieta, Sloughhouse and Wilton. It appears in mailboxes on Wednesdays.
In 2014, the River Valley Times said it was on the verge of going out of business after losing its largest advertiser, Plaza Foods. It asked readers to contribute $12 to cover the next six months of business operations, and enough readers responded to keep the newspaper afloat.