The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Editorial staff breaks ranks

In the Feb. 9 edition of The Daily Illini, Acton H. Gorton, the paper’s editor in chief, and Chuck Prochaska, the paper’s opinions editor, made the decision to run six of the 12 anti-Islamic cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have outraged members of the Muslim community since running in a Danish newspaper.

Gorton and Prochaska made the decision they should run in this newspaper. This decision was made without the knowledge of the Editorial Board, the editorial adviser and the publisher of the paper. This decision was made by two people behind the backs of those who are being significantly affected by its fallout.

This newspaper prides itself on being a member of the professional journalistic community. We value freedom of the press, speech and expression. But we acknowledge that in certain instances, such as the publishing of these offensive cartoons, there are issues that must be considered.

The dialogue that Gorton and Prochaska supposedly intended to be initiated certainly was not. People have either criticized this decision or applauded it – not so they could discuss these issues, but because no one’s mind is open to discussion. A number of letters received by the opinions desk are evidence that, in printing these cartoons in this manner, the prejudice against Muslims in this country has not been combated, but actually enhanced.

We want to make it clear that while we do not necessarily disagree with the decision to print these cartoons, we disagree with how they were run. There was a tactful way to do this, and it is unfortunate it was not run in that manner.

This situation was bad enough, but Gorton tried to make it worse by writing yet another hasty column. He also brought in Humair Sabir to write the reaction in the Muslim community. With all due respect to Sabir, he has been friends with Gorton for one-and-a-half years, and one of the primary pillars of journalism is to NEVER interview one’s friends. This newspaper is appalled that Gorton would even consider using his friend in the newspaper as a voice for the Muslim community. To actually do it is beyond embarrassment.

This has been an unfortunate situation that was initiated because of the callous bravado of a renegade editor in chief who firmly believes that his will is also the will of the paper. Even to this day, he still does not believe the way he handled this situation was a mistake. He believes that consulting just a few people was an appropriate way to handle this situation.

In addition to this, Gorton and Prochaska ruined the editorial that ran on that same page.

That editorial was the view of the entire editorial board of this newspaper and its message was tarnished by this thoroughly underhanded decision. It was meant to explain that The Daily Illini puts a great deal of pride in covering local news that affects our campus and community. It came off as an arrogant defying of authority.

In the end, Gorton and Prochaska have handled this whole situation poorly. The Daily Illini does not stand with these members of the newspaper, and will not stand with these members of the newspaper, until they fully understand the complexity of this situation.

The Daily Illini has been embarrassed by the blatant abuse of power by both the editor in chief and the opinions editor. We apologize to the Muslim community as well as the rest of our readership for Gorton’s and Prochaska’s actions.

Leave a Comment