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‘Do I have a booger?’ U-News staff apology and retraction

Dear University News readers,

A forum piece entitled “Do I have a booger?” was published in last week’s issue of U-News. The article was indisputably offensive and condescending to the people it described and there was no legitimate excuse for its publication.

All remaining issues were pulled form U-News bins on campus and in the city Wednesday, Sept. 29. Additionally, an online apology and retraction letter was issued by our culture editor, Nikki Bomgardner, who authored the forum article.

As a newspaper, we have an ethical, moral and social obligation to publish content that is factual, balanced and reflective of our diverse readership. “Do I have a booger?” did not live up to these standards, and U-News is working to ensure that we adhere to the highest journalistic standards.

While the U-News staff collectively bears complete responsibility as a group for the printing of this article, several individuals, including the faculty adviser, ad manager, business manager and editor-in-chief, did not see the article before it was printed.

Our past policy, which is the case for most professional newspapers, was for section editors to fact-check and edit content in their sections and copy editors to make grammatical and AP style corrections.

A zero-tolerance policy on cultural insensitivity has been implemented, along with new editorial oversight that will require our editor-in-chief to preview all content prior to publication.

The U-News staff also believes this incident is an opportunity for individuals and groups on campus and in the community to recognize and discuss biases and prejudices in our society.

We would like to thank the individuals and groups who took time to write to us and express their views. Reader input is always welcome.

We would also like to thank the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs for facilitating and relaying student concerns to our office.

Sincerely,

University News staff

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1 COMMENT

  1. “While the U-News staff collectively bears complete responsibility as a group for the printing of this article, several individuals, including the faculty adviser, ad manager, business manager and editor-in-chief, did not see the article before it was printed.”

    If the people who were ostensibly accountable (the ones with the fancy hyphens in their titles) for the material being published did not review their brilliant editorials in the past, then who is “collectively” bearing the responsibility? I (and I am sure that others who were disgusted with your last edition) am glad to hear that you will be implementing a “zero tolerance cultural insensitivity policy,” but I don’t know that your “however” clause really does much to excuse any of you (perhaps it is an issue of a conjunction?) in higher positions. If anything, those who were most accountable for the paper, and its standing on campus and in the community ought to be held doubly responsible for not reviewing the material before it was sent to print.

    “The U-News staff also believes this incident is an opportunity for individuals and groups on campus and in the community to recognize and discuss biases and prejudices in our society.”

    Great. I am glad to hear that your staff is open for dialogue. I hope this is not an empty promise, and that you intend to notify the community and the student body about any possible opportunities for open discussion on campus with your staff.

    Also: I think that one thing which was not addressed in either of the apologies has to do with the egregious stylistic errors in Nikki’s piece and the question of the integrity and value of the “Forum”/”cultur editor” pieces at all. One of the most frustrating things about Nikki’s article was that it was absolutely meaningless, riddled with tautologies, superfluous detail, inappropriate in its use of colloquialisms (the most glaring mistake of the article), and just poorly-written–to be offensive is bad enough all ready, but when an insulting article is neither substantiated by any kind of rhetorical flourish, nor has a point (I mean, what was the point? Nikki gets stared at? So what???!!!) then most readers wonder why they waste their time reading your paper. Many of the people with whom I have shared this article and your newspaper have been surprised that this came from a university at all. I hope that this is also something upon which you and your staff will reflect. We are students! “Cultural” or discussion-based pieces should be thought-provoking, original, innovative, and (dare I say it?) avant-garde? I hope to see better coming from your newspaper soon.

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