The city of Memphis can’t seem to take criticism. At least, that’s the message the city is sending with its treatment of former Commercial Appeal columnist Wendi Thomas.After continual denial of Thomas’ requests to be added to Memphis’ media advisory list in the past, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
The attorneys for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a lawsuit on May 13. Thomas is the founder of the nonprofit news outlet MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. The lawsuit is suing Mayor Jim Strickland, the city of Memphis and a city communications official.
According to the statement by the RCFP, “The city would not provide a reason for refusing to add Thomas to the list, but in a 2017 email exchange, the city’s chief communications officer told Thomas that she had ‘demonstrated, particularly on social media, that you are not objective when it comes to Mayor Strickland.’”
In the same official statement, Thomas added her comments on the situation.“No politician likes being the subject of critical coverage,” she said, “but that comes with elected office, and I would be abdicating my role as a journalist if I failed to hold local government, including the City of Memphis, accountable.”
The goal is to give Thomas the same opportunity as other local media members, and the lawsuit requests that she is added to the city’s media advisory list as soon as possible.