Dexter resigns as publisher, editor of Linden newspaper
The woman who was promoted to the position of publisher and editor of the Linden Democrat-Reporter has stepped down.
Elecia Dexter accepted the leadership role at the newspaper on Feb. 21 after an editorial calling for the “Klan to ride again” was written and published by former editor and publisher, Goodloe Sutton. That editorial calling for the return of the KKK drew nationwide attention and criticism.
Dexter, who started at the newspaper in late December, said that when she accepted the leadership role at the Democrat-Reporter she was looking forward to taking the newspaper in a new direction.
“He had told me he wanted me to take over everything. I wasn’t sure how things would work out, but I saw it as an opportunity to change the narrative and rebuild the community’s trust in the newspaper,” Dexter said.
However, she said Sutton was fixated on publishing a story he wrote as a response to a previous article published by the Montgomery Advertiser.
“I was able to negate him from putting it in the Feb. 28 edition. But, I later found out he went back, reworked the front page to include that article, and then emailed it to media outlets and advertisers,” she said.
On that revised front page, Dexter said Sutton replaced a story about his retirement with the article he wrote related to the Montgomery Advertiser.
“I was trying to rebuild the paper and build trust, and he’s sending out fake front pages using the newspaper’s email address without any type of explanation,” she said.
That article about differences as to fact in and opinion Sutton had with a reporter with the Montgomery Advertiser did appear in the print edition of the Democrat-Reporter on Thursday, March 14.
A message left for Sutton at the Democrat-Reporter office has not been returned.
Dexter said she feels Sutton was sincere when he originally made her publisher of the newspaper.
“I think he tried, but he wants to have a voice and to say what he wants to say,” she said.
Linden Mayor Charles Moore said he never had the chance to meet Dexter, but understands that she was in a difficult position as the new publisher.
“I don’t know where it goes from here,” Moore said about the Linden newspaper.
He said he did receive a call recently from the owner of another newspaper who was considering purchasing the Democrat-Reporter, but adds he is unsure if even the right leadership would improve the paper’s standing. “I would hope so,” he said. “I really do.”
Sutton’s editorial that stated that the Klan should ride on the “Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats” led to the Alabama Press Association censuring him and suspending the newspaper’s membership. The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Communication and the Auburn University Journalism Advisory Council each revoked previous honors presented to Sutton.
— Teresa Boykin contributed to this report.
(This story was updated on Monday, March 18, to include comments from Elecia Dexter and Linden Mayor Charles Moore.)