On alternate Sundays, The New York Times runs a comic strip called See Something, Say Something, which regularly tackles controversial topics. This week, it talked about the backlash against #yesallwomen. And the Times refused to run it.
Here's the strip in question:
Micheal Kupperman, who creates the comic with David Rees, posted the strip to his blog, adding:
Some of you may have noticed that David Rees and I have been producing a comic for the New York Times Week in Review section called "See Something, Say Something" every other Sunday… but we're not in today's paper. That's because they objected to David's script this week and refused to consider printing it… the subject matter (male rage, online bullying & the hashtag #yesallwomen) was "too sensitive."
Previous installments of the comic have dealt with the NSA, Russia's invasion of the Ukraine, and congress slashing access to food stamps. None of these were deemed too sensitive to print by the Times.
May wasn't a stellar month for the New York Times. The abrupt firing of executive editor Jill Abramson led to accusations of gender bias after it turned out she may have been canned because she confronted her bosses about pay inequality. Further revelations about Abramson's leadership skills being dismissed by her staff because she wasn't nice enough didn't result in stellar PR for the paper. But it doesn't necessarily mean that the paper has an issue with women, right?
Maybe not, but this latest incident doesn't exactly help counteract that notion. Nor does it do anything to alter the impression that the Times — and newspapers in general — are a decaying institution out of step with the largely digital future of news.
Had the Times run this cartoon, it's doubtful that it would have reached nearly as many people as it will now, having spent the morning being uploaded, reblogged, and copied all around the internet, particularly to comic and feminism sites. Now the backlash over the comic being pulled (to protect the apparently "sensitive" feelings of internet bullies, no less) is likely to be much greater than whatever complaints the Times would have received if it had just run the damn thing.
The Times is one of the most important papers in the world, and that reputation is not undeserved. But if it wants to remain that way, it's going to need to stop looking so badly out of touch.