Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Not Surprised About the Maneater

At the University of Missouri, where I have been for the last five years, the only campus newspaper is a student-run affair named The Maneater.  The name alone is pretty hilarious, but it makes sense, since Missouri is the home of the Tigers.  The campus newspaper is published twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) and has been around for decades now.

Since we do have the world's first and largest Journalism School, it's not surprising that J-School students will fight tooth and claw to get a position as an editor, reporter, or columnist.  What is surprising is how supremely awful the paper is.  Another LIS grad student and I like to regularly make fun of all the typos and the recycling of the same Sudoku puzzles, Crossword puzzles, and weekly trivia.  One year, the movie reviewer seemed to hate every single movie he reviewed.  Sometimes the columnists write an inane column that makes no sense whatsoever.

I admit that my writing skills are certainly lacking at times, but I'm not trying to become a paid reporter or columnist; nor am I a copy editor.  Perhaps I could not do a better job, but it is not my goal to write for a living.  For these students, it is!

And then this happened.  The April Fool's parody edition of the newspaper is usually pretty funny stuff, normally ripping on the current daily life on campus.  So Campus Dining Services wants to do away with trays in the dining halls in an effort to waste less food?  How about writing an article about how CPS is going to get rid of plates as well so students have to carry their food in their hands?  How funny is that?

But, now they have gone a step too far.  Naming  The Maneater something like "The Carpeteater", even for only a day, is a ridiculous move on the part of editorial staff.  Not only does it fly in the face of all the diversity projects that Mizzou has tried to put on in the past (see One Mizzou) but it also gives fuel to the fire for all those who would openly ridicule LGBTQ students.  Do we want an incident like what happened to Tyler Clementi to happen here at Mizzou?  Or anywhere for that matter?

That wasn't all.  Multiple uses of the words "whore" and "c--t" were also in the parody newspaper as well.  The entire campus has been in an uproar since last Tuesday.  Both the managing editors and the editor-in-chief have resigned.  A letter was sent by the chancellor and multiple advertisers took out full page ads distancing themselves from the parody edition.  Although some people say that they have nothing to worry about, the managing editor is weighing the idea of changing majors because she believes that she just destroyed her chances of getting a job in journalism after graduation.

This actually comes on the heels of two columns published within the same week earlier this semester.  One portrayed heavily stereotypical gay men and the other put into practice a new term I had never learned before - slut-shaming.  Both columns received a lot of hate mail and the respective columnists issued apologetic statements a week later.  The columns, however, are just that, columns, and I have found certain ones highly offensive in the past.  I'm not sure how much the editors of The Maneater should censor their columnists, but they certainly could have done a much better job of censoring themselves on April 3rd.

1 comment:

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