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by Grace Johnson, Columnist

Growing up, we all heard Thumper’s wise words in the Disney movie “Bambi”: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

And as children, that’s a fairly basic concept. Don’t be mean to other people. While it was still difficult for some kids to follow, the actual idea is one that is easy to grasp. Some just chose to ignore this for whatever reason.

When I was a child, I tried to live by this. Granted, like everyone, I slipped up, but as a whole, I’ve been a fairly nice person and I still try to be.

That being said, it becomes harder to clarify what Thumper means as we’ve grown up and become more complex in our interactions. Sarcasm can be taken the wrong way, whether in person or via text, for example.

Personally, I believe that the struggle to identify what it means to be “nice” is one that will exist for quite some time, but I think that the biggest issue for me is the intent. Was someone specifically trying to be malicious or was someone trying to be funny and failing miserably? Or was it someone getting their information just flat-out wrong?

As Editor in Chief, I have received my fair share of emails about errors that have run in the paper, and each time I receive one, I feel so bad about it and do my best to rectify the situation. The Vidette’s typical protocol is to fix the mistake online as soon as possible and run a correction in the following day’s paper.

And as a whole, the people who have sent these emails have pretty much always been understanding. The people who have identified the mistakes realize that sometimes a number was misunderstood or a source misinterpreted some data. After taking the time to figure out the error, talking with whoever was upset and then correcting it, everything generally is OK.

But that doesn’t make it any better. I understand that each time an error prints and we run a correction, it isn’t the same as having the story run correctly the first time. However, we’re all human, so I know not everything can be perfect.

Earlier this week, however, I received different emails about other ways The Vidette has slipped up, with the first regarding the number of signs posted around campus to market our new app.

The woman who emailed me explained that she and others around campus were not pleased with the flyers being everywhere for what seemed to be a digital effort, because it caused more work for the business service workers to take them down, since they were not on bulletin boards.

After receiving the email, I responded, explaining that the marketing team had every intention of taking down the posters on Tuesday evening after their meeting, and that we were trying to reach all audiences. We had used the success of the readership survey as the determining factor for this marketing approach, and as such, we ruled it an effective method. We never meant to cause more trouble for anyone.

The other email I received was from the Acafellaz. For those of you unaware, in Monday’s paper, a new comic strip titled “Vegetative State” ran. The cartoonist, Sam Quast, had focused his strip on the Acafellaz, and, incidentally, ended up offending them.

It is in this sort of situation that my job becomes more difficult. Obviously the intention was not to offend anyone. That is never our goal at The Vidette. And for that reason, I decided to write this column.

There is not a real solution to rectifying this situation, other than trying to make amends by understanding what happened. I can’t run a correction and say that something was a typo or that the source was incorrect. This isn’t a story, so it doesn’t have those same guidelines.

But I wanted any of our readers to understand that I am taking the situation seriously. Our goal at The Vidette is to help and inform our readers. We would never intentionally target a group — whether an RSO, a religion or an ethnicity — and offend it on purpose.

Part of my job as Editor is to figure out ways that I can think outside the box and help situations simmer down instead of boiling over.

I have figured out a few ways to keep this from happening again. But if any of you are offended by an opinion on the Viewpoint page — whether in an editorial, column or cartoon — please feel free to email me or submit a letter to me in order to clarify your stance. That is what is most important to me as Editor, and I hope that you all understand this.

Grace is a junior publishing major and editor in chief of The Vidette. Questions or comments regarding her column can be sent to:
dvgvjohns@exchange.ilstu.edu.

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