Watching the Wildcat

Offensive cartoon was a mistake but readers held us accountable

As student journalists, we who run the Arizona Daily Wildcat do our best to craft an excellent newspaper every day. But as students - and humans - we inevitably make mistakes. Usually we get lucky and those mistakes are minor - a factual error in a statistic, a misspelled name, or an inaccurate Fast Fact, easily acknowledged and fixed with a correction the next day. Once in a while, however, we manage to really mess things up.

Last Tuesday's publication of ""No Relation"" immediately erupted in controversy and was regarded by many as at best in poor taste, and at worst derogatory and anti-Semitic. Although we removed the cartoon from our Web site after a pronounced outcry by Wildcat readers, the truth remains that the questionable comic went to print, and we cannot erase it from the pages of our newspaper, nor take back the outrage and pain that the cartoon caused to many readers on campus and beyond. Publishing the cartoon was a mistake, and failing to recognize the offense it would cause was an error in judgment.

Newspapers are but one powerful part of a far greater human dialogue. You, our readers, hold an equally important role. Over the past week, you have done a critical and honorable job of holding us accountable for our mistake. You submitted outraged letters published in the pages of our own newspaper. You sent e-mail messages and placed scores of angry calls to our newsroom. And you ensured that the Wildcat was taken to task by peer publications and our errors loudly publicized on local and national news.

That's the way it's supposed to work-our publication answers to our readers. We know that in the eyes of many, our comics-page gaffe has discredited our mission as a news organization serving the public interest.

Confronting offensive speech inspires many to tread beyond disappointed disapproval or conscious disregard into the realm of punishment and censorship. Over the past week, there have been calls for investigations, firings, and re-education. Appeasing this natural desire would be an easy way out of our error. But it would not be an honorable solution.

We accept full responsibility for the mistake that we made - but in good faith, the best thing we can do now is acknowledge that mistake, learn from it, and move on.

As an independent, self-sustaining news source, we must listen to our readers, but we take the blame - and the credit - for the things we print. Ultimately, we're accountable only to our conscience and ourselves. We can't let anyone else tell us what to run in the Wildcat, nor whom we should employ. If we do that, we're no longer independent.

In the future, we will do our best to protect the public from purely offensive content. But no matter how hard we try, we can guarantee one thing: the Wildcat will make a mistake like this again. We'll publish something patently offensive, something outright false, or something just plain dumb.

As a newspaper staffed by mortal beings, we can guarantee that mistakes will be made in the future. But as with last week's comic, this is what will happen: you will hold us responsible, we will learn from our errors, and the news will keep on being published.

OPINIONS BOARD: This editorial was determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Allison Hornick, Sarah Keeler and Connor Mendenhall.


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