Tuesday, March 30, 2010

People have been up in arms over AU sophomore, Alex Knepper's column in The Eagle "Dealing with AU's anti-sex brigade."

Some wonder how The Eagle could possibly publish such an inflammatory piece, from discussions at Jezebel to The Sexist at WCP.

In an editor's note the editor explained, "By publishing this piece, we were not trying to display our tacit support of Knepper’s views. However, as journalists, we are not in the business of censorship. As an editor, I would not feel right to fire or censor a writer who has offended people, because I believe that he has raised questions that warrant discussion."

According to a Washington Post story Tuesday, The Eagle will issue an apology for publishing the column. Editor-in-chief Jen Calantone said, "The column offended a lot of people, and as a human being, that upsets me."

Christopher Hanson, a journalism professor at the University of Maryland, told the Post, "The obligation of news organizations is to balance debate with having certain standards of what they believe is acceptable speech. The editor should not consider herself powerless to come in and kill a column if that column falls below certain standards."

I'm not sure how one defines "certain standards." It seems the only reason why The Eagle is stepping back and apologizing is because they've upset so many people. But as a news organization, I'm not sure that's a good enough reason to apologize for running a piece. They stood their ground in the days immediately following, issuing Editor's notes and opening the column back up for comments.  They believed they'd made the right decision. So why back down now? In doing so, on the basis of unpopularity, takes away from their credibility, I feel.  I mean, if they were going to publish a piece of that nature, they had to have known there'd be repercussions, and should've prepared for it.

But I end with this.

I don't subscribe to religion, political parties, feminism or bro-ism. I do believe in beer, chocolate, debauchery, dancin, cussin, workin hard and bein' kind.

And I believe in freedom of speech.  Isn't that why we're in this business? or is it only freedom of speech for those opinions with which run with popular opinion?

Voltaire once said, “I do not agree with a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

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