College editorial staffs should strive for excellence in taste

by Emma Carew

An October 23rd editorial cartoon published in The Montclarion, the college newspaper at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J., shows a strong lack of judgment on the part of the paper’s editorial staff. The cartoon featured a woman who tells a political canvasser she and her husband are "voting for the n***er!"

Yes, college papers can often get away with tongue-in-cheek gags that professional papers might not be able to, but there’s always a fine line between satire, humor and poor taste. Unfortunately for editor Bobby Melok, this choice falls decidedly into the poor taste category.

In a statement on the paper’s web site, Melok apologizes, but puts the blame on a syndicate service the paper uses for items like cartoons and crossword puzzles. "The Montclarion relied on others to judge content appropriateness, rather than making this choice as a staff decision," Melock said in the statement.

As editorialists, we do have the right to put forth opinions and personal views, but they must be done so tastefully. The readers of our papers are not all white, middle-class students from suburbia. And even if they were – some of them would still probably be offended by running cartoons referring to Sen. Obama as "the n***er!" (almost as bad as him being referred to as "That One" but that’s another issue…)

An edited version of the cartoon appears here