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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Daily Wildcat editor faces community

    Daily Wildcat Opinions Editor Justyn Dillingham, left, observes as Editor in Chief Lauren LePage addresses a question posed by a UA student concerning the printing of a controversial comic strip in the Wednesday, Nov. 5 edition of the Daily Wildcat.
    Daily Wildcat Opinions Editor Justyn Dillingham, left, observes as Editor in Chief Lauren LePage addresses a question posed by a UA student concerning the printing of a controversial comic strip in the Wednesday, Nov. 5 edition of the Daily Wildcat.

    Arizona Daily Wildcat Editor in Chief Lauren LePage met with roughly 100 members of the UA community Thursday night to answer questions from angry readers regarding a controversial comic that ran in Wednesday’s edition.

    The meeting was originally scheduled to take place in the Martin Luther King Jr. building but had to be moved to the Tucson room of the Student Union Memorial Center due to the high level of interest.

    “”There was a basic miscommunication,”” LePage said. “”This is kind of a simple matter in that I did not select that comic for print. … The comic that ran was not intended to run, I had never approved it, I had not selected it and so it ran because of this miscommunication.””

    LePage, who is in her first semester as editor in chief of the Daily Wildcat, said since she joined the paper she has worked to add a diverse outlook, which is one of the reasons she has published comics by Keith “”Keef”” Knight throughout the semester.

    “”One of my goals when I came to the Arizona Daily Wildcat was to diversify the paper both in terms of the students on the paper as well as the content that we cover,”” LePage said. “”(Knight’s) work showed different issues that are within our society about racism and other social issues, and this comes from an African American and this may be a voice for the people.””

    Daleesia Underwood, a senior majoring in family studies and human development, said that she would have appreciated a more heartfelt apology on behalf of the Daily Wildcat.

    “”All we were asking was for her to understand it, and I just felt that she wasn’t getting it,”” Underwood said. “”I had to walk out, honestly, because I got tired, she wasn’t getting anywhere, she wasn’t giving us anything, she wasn’t even sensitive to how we were feeling. It was ‘it’s a miscommunication’; she just kept saying the same thing over again.””

    LePage said that the comic inadvertently appeared in the paper after the wrong image file was selected from a folder and the designers and managing editor of the paper assumed the comic had already been approved by her.

    “”That page should have gone through our copy desk; that is what the copy desk of a newspaper is meant for,”” LePage said. “”From this day forward, we will be printing our comic pages and putting them through the copy desk as another gateway to ensure that if there is a miscommunication – which of course we’re going to strive to not have again – we will catch that and prevent that from going to print.””

    Clarence Griffin, a community-mentor for the 360 Scholars Experience, a program that aims to assist minority freshmen in making a smooth transition into college, said in addition to knowing how other mistakes could be prevented in the future, he wanted to know what the penalties would be regarding this situation.

    “”I would like to have heard her let us know what consequences are going to occur. We live in a society where there is cause and effect,”” Griffin said. “”For you to come in and say it’s my fault and think that you can just walk off like nothing is going to happen about it, that’s not cool; somebody should have to answer for this and not in the way she is doing it.””

    Many people in the crowd said they were angered that members of the Wildcat staff seemed to think the comic was less offensive because a black man wrote it, Griffin said.

    “”The Wildcat and the director of media, when they hear the outrage from students, their constituents, what they go and do is they tell us, ‘Well, do you know who wrote it?’ (and) basically implying that it is okay to put certain material in a newspaper as long as whoever it’s written about is of that same group of people,”” Griffin said.

    Victor Yates, a sociology junior, said in the future the newspaper should avoid any term that could possibly offend any group on campus.

    “”My problem occurs where as a Wildcat you pick this up and you see a racial slur in it. Racial slurs shouldn’t be in the newspaper,”” Yates said. “”You don’t know what type of effect that has on the people of the actual race where the slur is coming from.””

    LePage said that this situation would serve as a learning experience for the entire staff so that a mistake of this magnitude will not happen again.

    “”Obviously if this same exact thing happened in the same exact way I would question – even if I was a reader – as to it being in the paper,”” LePage said. “”You do not want to see the same mistakes repeated; otherwise that shows that you have not learned from it.””

    Since the issue arose, an internal memo has been sent to the staff of the Daily Wildcat detailing that any controversial words must be cleared with the editor in chief before they can be published.

    Underwood said that she would have appreciated a more direct response on behalf of the paper but insists that something like this must not happen again.

    “”I don’t think she got anything out of it, because if she got something out of it, then we would have gotten something out of it,”” Underwood said. “”I appreciate her taking the time out to come – that’s about the only thing I appreciate – but she didn’t get anything from what we were saying.””

    LePage reiterated that the situation was regrettable and that she will do her best to ensure that it will not happen again.

    “”I do apologize, and it was an honest mistake that that comic ran in the newspaper,”” LePage said.

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