DEAR HARRIETTE: I am the editor of my high school newspaper. I am the last step in approving articles, layouts and comics before the issue goes out. The most recent issue of the paper went out, and I approved a cartoon about cheerleaders that I thought was funny. It had them doodled with someone in the stands going, "Who is that? What are they even doing?" I thought this was comical because the cheerleaders at my high school aren't popular, and this brought it up in a funny way. No one is particularly sure why they're doing all of their lifts and flips, and I thought it was a funny comic everyone would relate to. The cheerleading team was offended, and I have received backlash about how it wasn't OK to let that comic into the paper. I still think it's funny, but I need to repair the paper's reputation. How can I apologize? I can't go to everyone individually to say sorry! -- Bad Editing, Westchester, New York
DEAR BAD EDITING: While the comic was likely funny, it sounds like it was funny at the cheerleaders' expense. Whenever you, as an editor, allow jabs like that, you can expect some kind of backlash. The first thing you need to think about is your audience. An editor's job is to provide content that is appropriate for and appealing to his or her audience. You must consider what the boundaries should be as it relates to criticizing members of your audience. Clearly, in this case, many feel you went too far.
What you can do is print a note from the editor in the next paper apologizing for being insensitive. You may want to say that you thought the comic was in good fun but see that sometimes critical humor can have too big of a bite.