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Dallas newspaper reporter fired over tweet to mayor

Mghan Mangrum, a former reporter with the Dallas Morning News newspaper.
Mghan Mangrum, a former reporter with the Dallas Morning News newspaper. (Photo via Twitter.com)

A Dallas newspaper reporter was fired in mid-February for purportedly tweeting to a local government official.

The tweet was in response to criticism lobbed by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, who was upset that the local media was not adequately covering the city’s recent downward trend in crime.

The mayor complained that local reporters were only interested in pursuing negative news. The tweet caught the attention of Dallas Morning News reporter Meghan Mangrum, who responded that national news outlets were more likely to report negative news compared to local ones.

“Bruh, national news is always going to chase the trend,” she wrote on Twitter. “Cultivate relationships with quality local news partnerships.”

Several days later, Mangrum’s managers called her into the office to let her know that she was out of a job. Her offense? Calling the local mayor “bruh.”

The Urban Dictionary defines “bruh” in a number of ways, with the top definition stating that the word is “the best answer to literally anything.” But Mangrum’s managers apparently looked at the second-highest definition, which states that “bruh” is a “word you say when someone says something stupid.”

Mangrum’s firing was first reported by D Magazine, which speculated that her dismissal was due to race more than anything: Johnson is Black. Mangrum is not.

“I know my intent, and it was not at all about race,” Mangrum affirmed in an interview published by the magazine this week. “I use that word with my friends and when I tweet about hockey. It’s just part of my vernacular.”

Mangrum was, in fact, attending a hockey game when she decided to tweet to Johnson from her personal account, which lists the Morning News as one of several places that have published her work in the past. D Magazine noted that her account is littered with tweets where she uses the word “bruh.” A review of Mangrum’s account by The Desk showed she uses the word in both an endearing and disparaging sense, depending on the context.

Context apparently wasn’t enough to help save her job. Before her dismissal, Mangrum was criticized by the newspaper’s executive editor, Katrice Hardy, who — like the mayor — is also Black.

Hardy questioned whether Mangrum would call someone “bruh” on Twitter if the subject of her attention was not Black, to which Mangrum said she would. (Mangrum has since deleted the tweet.)

The Dallas News Guild, which represents journalists at the Morning News, has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over Mangrum’s termination.

“Our complaint states the employee was terminated in deviation from status quo and unilaterally, without notice to the Guild or an opportunity to bargain,” a spokesperson for the Dallas News Guild said in a statement. “The employee’s termination came directly after their participation in a collective action with the intent to cause a chilling effect on the bargaining unit.”

The Dallas News Union is in the middle of negotiating a new contract with the newspaper for covered workers. A half-dozen complaints have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board by the Dallas News Union against the newspaper in the three years that the two sides have been negotiating.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).