ABSTRACT

EDITORIAL cartoonist Dennis Renault of the Sacramento Bee learneda few years ago that editorial cartoons can influence readership behav-ior. As Stein (1994) reports, "A Feb. 4 editorial cartoon intended to take a slap at racism backfired on the Sacramento Bee, bringing a torrent of criticism of the use of the term 'nigger' in the caption" (p. 9). Stein describes the cartoon, which prompted more than 1,000 people to cancel their subscriptions to the newspaper:

Apologies were offered on the front page of the paper, but many were still deeply offended by the cartoon and argued that it reflected a racist viewpoint on the part of the editorial staff. Similarly, a cartoon that appeared in the

December 20, 1991, issue of Chicago's Reader was criticized for a racist caricature of a Chicago Alderman. In this case the paper refused to apologize, arguing, "We don't pretend to the objectivity of the Sun-Times. We have free-lancers who are very involved in a story writing about it. It's a different standard, but a lot of things about the alternative press are different" (quoted in Fitzgerald, 1992, p. 15). An advertising boycott of the Reader was called for by many local politicians.