By: M.L. Stein
tHE MANAGING EDITOR of the Eureka, Calif., Times-Standard was fired after the paper ran a cartoon of a lap dancer astride a bar patron ? a commentary on a controversial owner of a topless nightclub.
Publisher Mark Richmond said he sacked Rex Wilson “because I lacked confidence in his objectivity and ability to run a newsroom in this community.” Richmond published a brief editorial apology to readers in which he said the cartoon was “not in good taste or reflective of the communities that we serve.” Wilson could not be contacted.
Earlier, the daily had run a Page One story about Tom Great Razooly, owner of the Tip Top Club, housed in a former recreational vehicle dealership. To meet county zoning laws, Razooly (he legally added Great to his name) must sell RVs to keep his club open, according to the Times-Standard, which reported he complies by offering toy RVs for sale.
The cartoon by a freelancer, who signed it “Igor,” shows a man resembling Razooly observing the lap dancer and her client while saying, “Welcome to the Tip Top Antique Shop. . . The chair that you are lap dancing on is an exquisite little Chippendale, handcrafted in 1820 and in excellent condition.” The customer responds, “I’ll take it.”
Above Richmond’s apology, the Times-Standard carried an editorial headed, “Finding out what news will fit a community newspaper.” It observed that among a newspaper’s responsibilities to readers is to “never deliberately offend or shock the readers. Simply inform.” The editorial also said a newspaper must know its community and know what is happening. Richmond said the paper got a “flock” of mail and phone calls objecting to the cartoon.
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?(copyright: Editor & Publisher January 24,1998) [Caption]