UB Spectrum editorial provokes explosive response
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • February 04, 2012 @ 7:00am
The staff of the UB Spectrum, an independent student-run publication at the University at Buffalo, has dealt with an avalanche of criticism for assistant news editor Lisa Khoury’s opinion piece that condemned tattooed women.
Originally intended as a counterpoint piece to news editor Rebecca Bratek’s support for tattoos as a carefully thought out, meaningful work of art, Khoury’s response—entitled “Why Put a Bumper Sticker on a Ferrari?”—took on a life of its own.
Khoury’s post struck nerves as it circulated rapidly through social media avenues—Facebook accounts, Reddit, Twitter and so forth. Lines like “An elegant woman does not vandalize the temple she has been blessed with as her body” sparked fury from tattoo backers and women who felt pigeonholed by what they saw as a sexist article.
The editorial has over 700 Facebook comments and 120 site responses (the Spectrum offers two routes of response), with more venomous personal attacks than thoughtful rebuttals. Bratek and assistant news editor Sara DiNatale wrote a column on the viral nature of the opinion piece and included a few anecdotes of the story’s impact on campus. After the backlash, Khoury crafted her own response to the negativity—an account that’s rather eye-opening in regard to just how vicious the comments were.
Spectrum editor-in-chief Matthew Parrino responded Thursday with a post that admitted some regret for including some of Khoury’s language, but overall, he stood behind his assistant news editor’s freedom of opinion.
“She – like all of us college journalists – is learning,” Parrino wrote. “We make mistakes along the way. Some are bigger than others. Hopefully, our mistakes teach us to be better. The reaction to this article is a lesson to all of us at The Spectrum and especially to Khoury. Beware of what you write. It can destroy you.”
The Spectrum has excelled in investigative journalism this year, breaking reports that Intervarsity Christian Fellowship pressured a gay student to resign, that the University at Buffalo Foundation funded a campaign of former Erie County Executive Chris Collins and that UB President Satish K. Tripathi broke SUNY regulations in bypassing the Joint Commission On Public Ethics.
Featured photo from Flickr / MyTat_2s.