Since I became Editor-in-Chief of the Campus Times in January, I have found the job to be quite rewarding. One of these rewards is observing the large amount of discourse, both between readers and CT staff and reader-to-reader.
In the past two weeks, a majority of this discourse has been focused on the CT’s coverage of a non-fatal suicide attempt in Hylan Hall on April 1 and the death of sophomore Joshua Locker on April 7. First, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my condolences, on behalf of all of the CT staff, to Josh’s family, friends and loved ones. This tragedy has affected the entire campus and I hope that those close to Josh have found comfort amidst their pain and sorrow.
Many people have commended us for our coverage of these events, and for that I am grateful. What is equally important is the number of readers who have respectfully voiced their displeasure with the way these stories were covered. While I have asked many of these readers to attend our Community Feedback Forum, I know it is not feasible for all of those who have concerns about this to attend. Thus, I feel it is only fair to address the situation using this space.
Some students have expressed their belief that these articles should not have been printed at all. As a news organization, it is our job to inform students of happenings on campus that affect their lives. On the night of April 1, numerous emergency vehicles were on campus and students were kept inside three academic buildings. As early as the next morning, rumors were beginning to spread as to why these emergency crews had come. The best way to dispel rumors is to inform the public of the truth, and that is exactly what we did.
The placement of the articles is a somewhat complex matter. The first article ran on the front page of the April 5 issue because it was one of the four most important stories that week. At the time, we were unaware of a set of media guidelines concerning coverage of both fatal and non-fatal suicide attempts published by a number of national groups, including the American Association of Suicidology. In these guidelines, it was noted that placing such a story on the front page was not recommended. I regret placing this story on the front page and take full responsibility for it.
It was because of these guidelines that we decided to place the second story, which was printed in the April 12 issue, on the third page of the newspaper. While it was difficult to cover such a tragedy, I cannot commend the writer, Bonnie Jarrett, enough for the time and research she put into the article. It was not meant to be a tribute, but a statement of all the relevant and known facts. Anything more than that would have been inappropriate for a news story.
For those readers who chose to voice their concerns in a discourteous manner, I can only say this: In the future, I would hope that you think about the ramifications of your words and actions, and show the CT staff and the student body the respect we all deserve.
This semester has been a unique experience for myself and everyone at the Campus Times. We have dealt with exceptional highs and incredible lows, and I can say with great pride that we have done everything within our power to produce a quality news source.
Moeller is a member of the class of 2009.