Journalism gone awry - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the December 1999 Juniper Berry Magazine

Journalism gone awry

On November 4th, the Queens Ledger newspaper published a cartoon depicting Juniper Park Civic Association president, Robert Holden shopping at 7-Eleven. The cartoon listed a headline "What one civic leader was doing Halloween Night." It listed the time (1:15am) with the store manager saying "Come back soon Bob." There were also jabs at the JPCA, and the Midville Dodgers youth organization, of which Holden is the founder and president.

Of course the cartoon was false. While the cartoon was an attempt to find humor in the situation we think it failed miserably. But the cartoon also misled several readers. Many residents thought, from looking at the cartoon, that Holden really shopped at the store.

In our opinion the cartoon lacked the communication skills to get its point across. A point that still escapes us. At the very least we consider the cartoon to be inane and in poor taste.

However, the author of the cartoon, Patrick MacCarthy on two occasions attempted to apologize but the Queens Ledger did not print his three paragraph letter. Instead the Ledger published a note from editor Walter Sanchez which we felt was condescending in nature and questioned the intelligence of readers who thought Holden really shopped at 7-Eleven.

We are disappointed in the manner in which the Queens Ledger handled the entire episode. But unfortunately it does not end here.

What Were They Thinking?

Recently the Ledger published two anonymous letters. One attacked Sister Jean, principal of Our Lady of Hope, for her stand on the 7-Eleven issue. The letter was filled with inaccuracies and slanderous remarks. But the most intolerable letter of all was printed in the issue November, 1999. The QL allowed a blatant racist and ignorant remark about the new 7-Eleven franchisee in their ėGripe of the Week.î We will not repeat the remark to aid in furthering the cause of ignorance and hatred. We feel a racist letter allowed to be published under the veil of anonymity is the same as handing a hood to a Ku Klux Klan member. We are disappointed in the actions of the Queens Ledger and we question its motives for publishing such destructive dribble.

-----------------------------------------------

The following letter was sent by Lorraine Sciulli to the Queens Ledger (Walter Sanchez, editor) on November 12, 1999. The QL decided not to print it. So we will.

Dear Walter:

Your cartoon in the November 4 issue of the Queens Ledger depicting Bob Holden sneakily shopping at 7-Eleven in Middle Village is so far running zero on the humor scale. No one here in Middle Village "gets it." It's not funny, Walter. Deal with it, you goofed.

Your explanation somehow comparing Bob Holden with a political figure like Vice President Al Gore just makes the cartoon even more ridiculous and inappropriate.

Bob Holden is a hard working, unpaid neighborhood volunteer who devotes hours to our community (too many hours, many of us think) and Vice President Al Gore is an elected official who is getting paid a pretty good salary from our hard earned tax dollars.

Then you go on to explain to your readership why the cartoon is humorous. There is nothing funny about 7-Eleven in Middle Village. The neighborhood is currently boycotting the store and that's pretty serious business.

You further state in your condescending explanation that "part of a free press in a democratic society is our ability to laugh and have fun in matters that are part of the public realm."

O.K.,Walter, let's play first amendment roulette and have some fun. Why don't you and Pat McCarthy take a good look in the mirror and then make a cartoon. Then, put the cartoon in the biggest joke of all, the Queens Ledger. Isn't that amusing? Here's the best part, I wouldn't have to be "patronizing" and explain that humor to anyone because we're all familiar with the Queens Ledger and its plethora of grammatical errors and misspelled words.

Having fun, Walter? We here in Middle Village are laughing hysterically.

In the future you would do well to confine your cartoon humor to the people who truly earn it, elected officials.

You should apologize in your newspaper for your warped, humorless sense of "humor." No one is laughing.

Lorraine Sciulli

________________________________________

Follow-up also not printed:

Walter Sanchez – I see you elected not to print my letter dated November 12, 1999 regarding the Holden cartoon. Not surprising. I guess it was outside your definition of "our ability to laugh and have fun in matters that are part of the public realm."

You play first amendment roulette with a dart board and decide something is humorous. We showed my letter to quite a few people who thought it was very humorous and "fun."

Who decides? Your "fun" cartoon on Bob Holden was wrong and hurtful but maybe my letter – that you chose not to print – will serve to sharpen the spell check and grammar at the Queens Ledger.