As you know, last week’s “Doonesbury” storyline explored the ultrasound issue — in graphic and unflinching detail.
While a number of newspapers pulled Garry Trudeau’s controversial strips, or moved them online, the Statesman decided to keep them on the Opinion page. Boise Republican state Sen. Chuck Winder’s ultrasound bill factored heavily into our decision.
The reader response was startling. I expected complaints, even some cancellations. I didn’t field a single complaint (and we actually did have a subscription cancellation over our Sunday editorial on the ultrasound bill). Instead, we heard from readers who thanked us, sometimes effusively, for running the cartoons.
Here’s an excerpt from one e-mail. “Once again, Trudeau makes us squirm and confront our society’s demons. And once again, The Statesman has the journalistic courage to let us, the readers, make our own decisions about reading it — or not.”
I know this all sounds self-serving, but that isn’t my intent. Instead, after 27 years of doing this, I’m once again surprised by how readers respond to what they see in their paper. While it’s an anecdotal response from a small reader sample, the reaction feels significant, in light of the growing backlash over the Idaho ultrasound bill.