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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    To our readers

    As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    At the beginning of the semester, I emphasized diversity not only within our staff but also in our news coverage and content. We are aware that many minorities make up our readership, and we strive as a team to cover issues affecting these groups of students, faculty and staff.

    In an attempt to help diversify our comics page, I met with top editors in August and we decided to publish comics by black artist Keith “”Keef”” Knight that focus on social and racial issues.

    We received no comments until the comic in Wednesday’s paper that was mistakenly run. As editor in chief, I have offered my apologies, as well as an explanation for why the wrong comic ran and why it was not caught. I have spoken with students in my office and just last night addressed a forum of about 100 concerned students and community members. As editor in chief, as the person responsible for ensuring proper communication among the Daily Wildcat staff, I hold myself accountable for the comic that ran.

    This controversy over the comic strip has overshadowed the fact that no one has complained of racist material within the Daily Wildcat’s news, arts, sports or opinions sections. We invite all of our readers to present to us any editorial material by our staff that they feel shows racism.

    As for our comics page, from this point forward we will have our copy editors and copy chief review the content. The copy desk’s job is to be the final defense against such issues as libel, plagiarism, fabrication, offensive commentary and more. Our copy editors have caught other offensive phrases earlier in the semester – phrases our readers never saw.

    Previously, our comics page did not go through the copy desk, including this Tuesday night – another mistake on my part, because, let’s face it: My managing editor and I juggle a lot of content and personnel issues daily, and it is wise to have more than two sets of eyes view every page of the Daily Wildcat before it goes to print.

    Many readers have been offended by the content of Knight’s comic. At this point, the Daily Wildcat is not approaching this controversy as a free speech issue. Unfortunately, many comments directed our way have attempted to make it a free speech issue, while we have been trying to address it as a management problem that has since been resolved.

    We have heard from many of our African-American readers on this issue,

    and we ultimately hear that this comic has upset them in its language and

    political commentary.

    I am suspending Knight’s comic and turning to our readers. We would like to run a UA student’s comic strip that will help better diversify the Daily Wildcat. To suggest a comic artist or to apply for this position, please contact me directly at editor@wildcat.arizona.edu.

    I feel I have answered all the questions concerning this situation. My hope is that our readers will understand this entire incident as an honest mistake so that together we can all move forward.

    The worst thing about the last couple of days has been the negativity generated during a time for celebration. All of us have contributed to this atmosphere at a time when we should be celebrating, a time when President-elect Barack Obama represents hope for all groups of people and a chance not to engage in conflict but to grow as a nation through the art of listening.

    This comic’s controversy is damaging to our campus and our community. We need to stand together now, to listen to each other, to learn from everything that has happened and been said and to ultimately move forward so that our campus not only represents but, more importantly, embraces diversity – the very idea Obama’s candidacy represented and the very message he has shared with the American people: Yes, we can all change for the better.

    Lauren LePage

    editor in chief

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