Two years ago, the Fort Mill (S.C.) Times, a 19,500-circulation weekly owned by the McClatchy Co., proudly announced that “Toya Graham will be joining the Fort Mill Times staff as an assistant editor. Graham, currently a reporter covering the crime and courts beats for the The Herald, the Times’ sister daily, will begin her new position Tuesday, Feb. 10.”
The Herald is a reference to the Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald, a McClatchy-owned daily also in York County.
A year later, in 2010, McClatchy announced 10 President’s Awards for journalism excellence. Graham’s name was on the list. “Mary Jo Balasco’s stories on the horrific burns of 13-year-old Connor McKemey and his three dozen surgeries and long road to recovery. . . . The Herald and reporter Toya Graham continued to follow throughout the year.”
Now, in 2011, Graham has been ousted.
There is more than one way to leave a place of employment, and Graham chose to publicize the circumstances.
She wrote to Journal-isms in this edited email:
“Until May 17, I was the assistant news editor for the Fort Mill Times newspaper, part of the McClatchy newschain, the third largest in the country. I had been with them for 10 years and two months, and I was the only African American journalist/news editor for four of their papers in York County area. Now there are no blacks. I was let go b/c I was ‘not the right fit for Fort Mill,’ our human resource director, Beth Taylorsen, said. I contacted . . . four attorneys, and one of them said what the human resource director said translated to I’m not ‘lily white enough for lily white Fort Mill.’
“After eight years with The Herald, I transferred to the Fort Mill Times. In the two years and two months I’d been in the Fort Mill office, I have been refused job training by my co-editor. Any training I received, I obtained by attending seminars with the S.C. Press Association. I paid them more than $300 to receive some training my co-editor should have given me. Additionally, I was played second to a white, part-time journalist who wrote four to five stories weekly to my 10 to 13 stories. I have received more than eight S.C. Press Association awards and a McClatchy President’s award, the highest a McClatchy employee can get and until my arrival at the Times received stellar work evaluations.
“Bottom line: It’s still surreal what happened to me. I stand in disbelief and my heart is broken.”