Should ‘Merry Christmas’ Appear on This Student Newspaper’s Front Page?

The most recent edition of The Scribe at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs features the two-word exclamation “Merry Christmas” right next to the masthead atop the front page. Should this standard seasonal greeting be promoted so prominently by the paper?

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One CMM reader cites it as ignorant at best and offensive at worst, especially given the fact that the Scribe’s affiliated school is non-denominational. According to this complainant (a respected figure in collegemediatopia), it is discounting readers with non-Christian religious backgrounds or anti-holiday sentiments.

I deem it as less a controversy than a point of intrigue. I reached out at the start of the week to the Scribe’s editor-in-chief. He did not immediately respond — it’s a holiday week after all.

In the meantime, as I gaze at the seemingly innocuous greeting, I’m left with the following questions: Is it truly disrespectful for the paper to promote Christmas like this? Is it downright offensive? Should holidays of other faiths be touted with similar gusto as recompense? Or does Christmas nowadays occupy a cultural status above its inherent religious foundation, making the paper’s exhortation less about a faith-based tradition than an event that in some way touches us all? By contrast, is the problem maybe with our increasing cries for political correctness at all costs — in this case meaning only generalized axioms like “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” are OK? To that end, is this maybe a bunch of noise about nothing?

Happy holidays.

Comments
3 Responses to “Should ‘Merry Christmas’ Appear on This Student Newspaper’s Front Page?”
  1. Susan Goldstein says:

    I don’t think this is about political correctness. It’s about respect and learning and appreciating diversity. I don’t celebrate Christmas but I don’t mind reading ‘Merry Christmas’ headlines. What I do mind is if all the other December holidays are ignored in the process. Hannukah was celebrated over Thanksgiving. Kwanza is after Christmas. Did the news staff acknowledge this? December provides a wonderful opportunity for reporters to include a range of diverse voices, a practice they should be doing all year.

  2. Dave says:

    Demographics play a role – what is the population of students going to the school? How many celebrate which holiday? If no one on campus is actually celebrating Hannukah or Kwanzaa then there you go. A paper should cater to its audience. And Christmas is obviously a cultural mainstay here. Susan mentioned above that she doesn’t want the other holidays to be ignored, which is fair. But journalism is supposed to be fair AND balanced (balanced being the key word here). I think saying ‘happy holidays’ is a bit of a cop out – the ideal situation would be trying to investigate the percentages of who celebrates what and acting accordingly. That’s a big task to undertake – but as Susan says, it’s an opportunity to do better journalism!

    That said, I don’t think there’s a big problem with a student paper saying Merry Christmas to its audience. People often forget the resources available to papers, so complete coverage isn’t always possible even if they would like it.

  3. How is it any different than the New York Times A1 header of ‘Today is Christmas! Remember the neediest!’?