Gutless Newspaper Caves to Police, Apologizes for Doing Its Job

Faced with an advertiser boycott over a pretty mild cartoon, a newspaper decides not to upset anybody by being at all relevant anymore:

The editorial staff and management team of the Bucks County Courier Times respect the work of law enforcement and appreciate the risks they take and sacrifices they make each day.

The editorial cartoon that was published in our newspaper on Sunday, Dec. 7, was a commentary about the broad and complex relationship between black youth and police in America. It’s a relationship that has room for improvement, as has been acknowledged by members of both communities.

Though we don’t know what was in the heart and mind of the award-winning syndicated cartoonist who penned the cartoon, it was selected for publication for thoughtful reflection on that relationship. It in no way was intended to indict the law enforcement community.

If we had recognized prior to publication that the cartoon would have caused unintended offense, our editors would have selected a different one for Sunday’s newspaper. Editing a newspaper is not easy and we don’t always get it right.

Yeah. Let’s not make anybody think. Let’s not make anybody worry. Let’s not, for the love of God, give anybody any reason to read us and FEEL anything. Let’s just run cartoons about Christmas. Let’s just try to be less and less useful and interesting and vital and real, until nobody reads us at all anymore. That will be best. If nobody cares, nobody will be angry and we won’t have to defend anything we do.

Fucking hell. If you are looking for an example of what killed newspapers, look no further than this kind of gutless pandering to the loudest common denominator, this under-knuckling to the slightest objection, this total abdication of the responsibility to set an agenda or provoke a discussion.

A.

7 thoughts on “Gutless Newspaper Caves to Police, Apologizes for Doing Its Job

  1. I guess that whole “without fear or favor” thing is as passé as local reporting.

  2. Shorter editorial staff apology: We are afraid of men with guns who are above the law.

  3. That response was pretty much fine until you hit the last paragraph, where they completely screwed the pooch. The ending should have been, “Given the nerve that this cartoon struck, obviously our initial decision was correct. We speak truth to power, and often power doesn’t like that. We all have work to do in this society, and a good starting point is that the powerful need to learn not to use their power just because they can.”

  4. Or, hell, if you don’t want to pick a fight with the cops specifically, just say something like: Our editorial and op-ed pages include not only the views of our editorial board but also a wide range of views from a wide range of people. Accordingly, you inevitably will read something here from time to time that offends you. Deal with it. This is America, and providing a forum such as this is what good American newspapers do.

  5. (To be clear, I’d call the cops out and tell them that things like this come with being a public servant and that any cop who doesn’t like that is welcome to seek private-sector employment.)

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