Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A word from the editor-in-chief

By Heather Perry, Editor-in-Chief

Everything The Mooring Mast has done since last Wednesday has been attempts at damage control. It may have looked all organized and purposeful, but I can assure you it wasn’t.

My focus throughout this was to protect and support my staff and The Mooring Mast. What’s ironic is how our messages often came across as the exact opposite of what we wished them to be interpreted as.

And what’s most difficult about this whole situation for me is that I didn’t agree with the decision to run the headline in the first place. Surprised?

I’ve been trying to skirt around that point all along trying not to throw my staff under the bus, but everyone deserves to know I was not comfortable with running anything even remotely obscene that night related to a dodgeball team.

Why? I’m part of the minority of the PLU community that makes it a point not to swear. I say “crud puppies” instead. Until high school, I even thought “butt” was a bad word. I said “bottom.”

My parents taught me swearing was for lazy people who didn’t want to take the time to eloquently put into words what they were feeling.

I’m even further in the minority because I don’t drink and I don’t smoke. The current joke in the Mast office is that I’m a bad example for everyone.

So by now you’re definitely wondering why I allowed those words to slip past my editorial desk. That’s a really good question.

I’m not even sure I know exactly why.

Part of it has to do with how at that time I was the only one speaking out against running the headline. I now know others on staff weren’t all for it either, but at the time it turned into a spiral of silence with me offering the only objections.

So when the non-silent members of my editorial board defended the publishing of the infamous headline, I made the mistake of not pulling out my “trump” card.

The buck does stop with me. Tonight at our last staff meeting of the semester I told my staff I failed them. I failed to do my job and follow my instincts. I failed to adequately express how much of a bad idea I thought it was at the time. I failed to pull out my “trump” card when I wasn’t prepared to defend that headline.

But I told them it wouldn’t happen again. I told them that come next semester they should be prepared for the expectations I have for them and myself.

I told them that with time, this could be one of the best Mast staffs ever – not because of our successes but because of our failures. We want to learn, and we’re learning at a faster pace than I’d thought possible.

I’m sorry for not pulling out my “trump” card. I should have when I knew I wasn’t prepared to defend that headline. That’s what I’ve learned most of all. If I cannot defend something we run, then I shouldn’t allow it past my desk.

I also want to thank everyone who engaged in a meaningful dialogue both in class, on campus or online. I’ve asked everyone all year to hold us accountable. You did. And because you did everyone on staff is learning from it.

I, along with the rest of my staff, have not hidden under a rock since last Friday, although it’s been tempting. I assure you we are sorry for our actions and have learned and still will learn from them. Don’t take these invaluable learning experiences away from us.