For a student newspaper's editor, nothing could be worse than having to pull an entire week's issue from the racks. Unless it's having to apologize with reference to the source of the controversy: an editorial with the headline, "Do I have a booger?"
That master work by UNews staffer Nikki
Bomgardner ran in the September 27 issue of the University of Missouri-Kansas City's student newspaper. Two days later, all copies of the UNews disappeared from campus newsstands, and Bomgardner was posting an apology. How could a booger screed be so offensive? Well...
Bomgardner's editorial centered around a universally feminist request: She wants to be able to get her Number 11 with honey barbecue from the "ghetto Wendy's" without being stared at, OK?
At said "ghetto Wendy's," Bomgardner encountered a female drive-thru employee with "terrible grammar" and a "strong accent" who "stuttered through her gold rack of teeth" while taking Bomgardner's order. Lucky for UNews readers, Bomgardner is the paper's culture editor (!), so she was able to translate the employee's speech phonetically: "'Scuse me, ma'yam, wood ya poo' fowud, dey makin' it fresh."
You can't double-check to see if we're making this up, because Bomgardner's article is no longer available in the UNews' online archives. Probably a good call.
Bomgardner describes herself as "the only annoying white chick with a hint of a Miami tan left, in short shorts, (and) blond hair ... within a four block radius" of the fast food restaurant on Troost Avenue and 67th Street, near UMKC's campus. Bomgardner describes the indignity of having to leave her vehicle and walk inside the restaurant
to check on her drive-thru order. Naturally, "every construction worker, couple on a nooner, blue-collar worker and crack-head [sic] lookin' for a cheeseburger/dollar (whichever comes first)" had to stop and stare.
Oh, the humanity.
Two days later, the issue was yanked and Bomgardner was penning an apology. It ran online next to a photo of Bomgardner and her three daughters. They are half African American, she said (and, presuming that she is their birth mother, half "annoying white chick"). She wrote that she's always thought of herself as the least racist person she knows.
It might be time for Bomgardner to make some new friends.
"My forum articles are oftentimes my own experiences I feel are worthy to write about [sic to infinity]," Bomgardner said in her apology. "This was one of them. I did not wish to make myself superior to anyone, I did not intend to belittle anyone and my attempt to illustrate a detailed set of events came out poorly. I should not have mocked the way the employee spoke to me. It was inappropriate and disrespectful."
UNews' editor-in-chief Melissa Oribhabor printed an apology from the entire staff in the following week's issue. She explained that the paper's faculty adviser, ad manager, business manager and even she, the editor-in-chief, did not see the "Do I have a booger?" article before the issue was printed.
"Our past policy, which is the case for most professional newspapers, was for section editors to fact-check and edit content in their sections and copy editors to make grammatical and AP style corrections," Oribhabor wrote. "A zero-tolerance policy on cultural insensitivity has been implemented, along with new editorial oversight that will require our editor-in-chief to preview all content prior to publication."
Not everyone was satisfied with the paper's response. Several comments appeared below Bomgardner's online apology, including this one that read, in part, "It is my feeling that there may be some issues that Nikki needs to
address -- perhaps some self reflection -- especially in consideration of her
three young children. Who, by the way, have been shamelessly used to
somehow explain or defend her behavior."
It appears as though Bomgardner has retained her position as culture editor -- she was posting photos of the UNews staff's Halloween costumes as recently as October 25.
Clearly, Bomgardner has suffered enough. College is supposed to be an environment where budding journalists are safe to learn from their mistakes, right? She should be back to writing scorchers like this column about her crush on Facebook-founder Mark Zuckerberg in no time. As for the whole being-stared-at issue, we can help solve it: Just keep eatin' that fast food, homegirl.