Daily Universe explains why it pulled Dilbert’s Hay-Soos

The Daily Universe, the campus newspaper of Brigham Young University, pulled Scott Adam’s Hay-Soos series and offers this explanation:

Some recent letters to the editor have decried The Daily Universe’s decision to not print recent Dilbert cartoons because of inappropriate references to Jesus Christ. To be upfront about the issue, we make no apologies for swapping the comics for more appropriate editions. Similar decisions are made at The Daily Universe on a regular basis – not solely to protect or reflect the values of our readership, but because such material fails to meet the standards we have set for ourselves.

In cases where something is needlessly offensive (ie: it doesn’t serve any higher purpose, such as a comic strip), we have little qualm with not printing whatever the offending material might be. Ultimately, like any newspaper, we reserve complete control over what we do and do not print.

While it may seem blasphemous to some modernists, the unrestrained flow of information (even with something as non-consequential as a cartoon) is not our highest aim at The Daily Universe, nor is it at any reputable news organization. Journalists have a responsibility to their community – not only to provide it with the best possible information that informs and engages its readership, but also to think of the overall good of itself and of the community. News organizations must constantly calculate what is to be gained and lost with what is sent to the press. In this case, the decision was an easy one.

Last summer they offered up a similar column on why it pulls cartoons.

13 thoughts on “Daily Universe explains why it pulled Dilbert’s Hay-Soos

  1. What an arrogant explantion. They would have been better off saying nothing. I’m sure the adult subscribers feel good that they were protected from the Dilbert strip.

    Why would they need to “think of the overall good of itself and of the community” if they were only dealing with “something as non-consequential as a cartoon?”

    I guess I’m one of those “modernists” they talk about that doesn’t assume all the readership is a bunch of easily offended children ready to cancel their subscription over a few square inches that they didn’t like.

  2. Had this come from the Chicago Tribune, or the Washington Post, I would have been more offended. I imagine the editors feel they are trying to best serve their audience.

    What I do take umbrage at is their oblivious derision of comics as an art form and as a form of social commentary. Besides what Alan quoted above, they say, “…even with something as non-consequential as a cartoon.” There are comics that have been more culturally and journalistically important than anything that paper has published. Here I’m thinking of Maus, Persepolis, Palestine, Doonesbury, to name a few.

    They unintentionally showed how petty and misinformed they are. It’s a shame.

  3. If cartoons are non-consequential (in their view), then what were they afraid of? What did they see as being the worst case scenario of running the cartoons?

  4. The Hay-Soos series is so offensive that it’s not even running in Denmark.
    Apparently, the Danish have swapped it with the Mohammad cartoons instead.

  5. I know how hard it is, in the current economic climate, to justify taking up space with some of the stuff that I think IS consequential. If there were something I thought was this disposable, I wouldn’t care if it were potentially offensive or not — I’d find something I did care about and put that valuable real estate to better use.

    Of course, in my case, that would mean adding some cartoons, but then I’m not a student at BYU …

  6. I don’t agree with their decision, but I’m not the least bit surprised. Their decision doesn’t bother me either. Their paper,they can run it or not. Seems like the editor made a call, and without a poll even. πŸ˜‰

  7. I’m not too keen on the idea of dropping certain segments of a strip and then picking it up again the next week. It seems like a breach of contract, not with the cartoonist, but with your readers. If you have a stable of syndicated columnists, you can pick this one and decide against running that one, but comics don’t work that way — the cartoon is supposed to be there every day. You’re on the bus or you’re off the bus.

    There could be an exception: Let’s say your town experienced a school bus accident that killed some kids, and coincidentally a comic strip had an arc about a crazed school bus driver. You might well withhold those strips.

    But in general, when you take on a strip, you’re taking on the artist’s vision. If you come to feel that vision is wrong for your community, drop the strip and replace it with something else. Otherwise, let it run, every day. You’ve offered it to your readers and you need to deliver what you are promising them.

    The attitude of this college editor is not that much more arrogant than that of adult editors who pick and choose what their readers are going to get to see. The difference is, he’s still got a chance to grow up.

  8. Mike, I think you makes some excellent points and overall I agree with you. I’m guessing the paper felt it would be a “breech of contract” with more of their readers by leaving it in. Wiley also has a good point if they think comics are so insignificant then is shouldn’t matter. Although I think their point might really have been it isn’t worth having controversy from the comics section. Still, ultimately their paper, their rules. On this blog, I don’t think papers/editors can win, because they are darned if they do and darned if they don’t. However, over on The Daily Editor (TDE) … πŸ˜‰

  9. Nothing is supposed to be off limits. If it hurts a little too much for you , then you gotta get in there, like irrigating a wound. The truth hurts too but you gotta suck it up to avoid an infection of hatred of people that don’t see it your way. Next, the nationalists may go after Wiley Miller for some of his work. I interpretted one of my favorites as being against Capitalism and the American way, while it could have just been a conformists applause of being first to rule the jungle.I speak of one where the amphibians are evolving in different stages and the first one out has erected a kiosk with the words “Gene Pool Real Estate” on it. All the while with a salesmans grin on his face. We have hydrogen fuel tech but only economics stand in society’s evolution.

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