LETTER FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Context counts for all our content

By Jessica Trondsen,  Editor-In-Chief

On the front page of our April 11 edition, we published a stand-alone photo of senior Edith Leal holding a sign at a local deportation center protest. We ran it with a headline and an extended cutline, but no accompanying article and no translation of the Spanish expression used on the sign.

The Mast staff has had a lot of conversation regarding this editorial decision since then.  As the school’s student newspaper, our aim is to provide credible information that can inform our audience and encourage discussion. To do this, we generate content from across campus on a range of topics. However, this particular protest story was one that required more context, which we should have supplied when it first ran.

According to Leal, the sign’s expression was slang meant to imply how families are treated when one parent is held in the detention center. Still, we’ve heard from others who were concerned about the literal translation of the phrase, which is vulgar. With more context of the protest, the slang could have been more relevant to the story and its purpose more evident in the translation. On its own, it caused confusion.
Our intent of running anything about the detention center protest was to describe the event and the Pacific Lutheran students’ participation in it, not to rile up or offend anyone within our community because of the sign’s appearance.

Leal said the protest also generated a sense of community across Tacoma and PLU. A stand-alone photo acknowledging that many PLU students attended the protest did not go far enough to tell that story. We did not receive any formal letters to the editor about this photo, but if you would like to send one, please direct it to mast@plu.edu. We value your input on this ongoing discussion.

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