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Column: A letter on journalists, apologies and accountability, in light of cartoon controversy

Dear Reader,

I’m not writing about the cartoon — yeah, that one. The cartoon depicting “Dreamers,” immigrant youths who were brought here as children, as terrorists and gang members from Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. The cartoon that sparked a protest, condemnations from locals to lawmakers and received national coverage.

Instead, let’s talk about journalists, apologies and accountability.

In recent times, with the prominent firings of many in top media positions, there are plenty of examples of journalists effectively covering their own outlets. Vice President Michael Oreskes of National Public Radio was ousted due to coverage by the Washington Post and his own newsroom.

Dan Boyd and Dan McKay of the Albuquerque Journal have reported on the cartoon’s impact critically, a hard job for any journalist.

Photojournalist Roberto E. Rosales, who is originally from El Salvador, was among journalists Marie C. Baca, Edumundo Carrillo and Rob Browman — all employees at the Journal — who all issued condemnations on Twitter of the editorial board’s choice, putting their careers on the line.

The art of the apology has been in the public sphere of late, another effect of the #MeToo movement. The Journal first issued a very short statement and then a longer expanded statement. Both were criticized for not acknowledging the impact of the cartoon and hedging responsibility. Protesters —as the Daily Lobo reported — felt justifying the cartoon for subtleties was “ingenuine.”

I cannot emphasize enough that not one journalist at the Albuquerque Journal has a say as to what goes on the editorial page. Journalists do not endorse candidates, print syndicated political cartoons or publish letters to the editor.

So please, stop tweeting at journalists that they are racists due to factors outside of their control.

Ask the Journal if the process for selecting editorial content is enough. There is a clear disconnect when an editorial page editor and the editor-in-chief wrongly interpret a cartoon to such a degree, that even the artist disagrees. Also, if a cartoonist’s work is offensive enough that conservative news mogul Rupert Murdoch had to issue an apology, it might not be prudent to print.

Demand more eyes on the content. Hold them accountable for their justifications.

Do not just get outraged — pay attention. Laud the important journalism that gets done every day. Push the Journal to support its reporters. The first cuts are often made in the newsroom, not on the owner’s side. Cutting copy editors, fact-checkers and staff puts more pressure on a single reporter or editor, making a newsroom more prone to mistakes.

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Demand more representation in the newsrooms and editorial staff. Newsrooms are an extension of the public and must be held accountable to the people they serve. That’s you.


Danielle Prokop

Danielle Prokop is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. The opinions in this column are her own. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @ProkopDani.

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