How threats and intolerance affects student journalism on campus

By Diana Lichtenstein || Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of freedom.press

I started writing for The College Reporter (TCR) earlier this year and have had nothing but great experiences thus far. The email feature has always been intriguing to me. The function is that anyone can email a writer on the staff, either anonymously or with the identification of their person. I have received one very kind email from a professor who did identify themselves and they commented on their appreciation of one of my articles. Because of this, I have naively always thought that there could be no negative side to the email feature. I was wrong. A few weeks ago, a fellow writer was emailed anonymously by someone who, to say the least, did not appreciate their piece on the Iowa Caucus. 

A little while back, one of my fellow staff writers wrote a news piece and an unnamed person chose to email said writer with harsh and unwarranted comments. This piece was not even an opinion piece. It was a regurgitation of the news. Also, The College Reporter does not go through a process of peer review nor are we at the same caliber as The New York Times, so let me apologize if there are ever slight inaccuracies in the news that we produce. The anonymous email started with the subject line, “If You Are Planning on Being a Journalist….” Well, if the emailer is a journalist, this criticism would be more justified. Anyway, there were other comments that I had a problem with. In one sentence the emailer claimed that the writer spoke to something that was “conjecture only.” That was not the worst of it, though. The person also called the piece “poor journalism” and, to finish it off, they wrote, “Enjoy your time in college, it should be the freest time of your life….” This felt condescending to me. The writer who received this email is tough and can handle it, but what about those who couldn’t have? These types of emails, which I understand are not that common, could be a factor in what makes aspiring writers reluctant to write for The College Reporter. I tell almost all of my friends who are interested in writing about how approachable TCR is, but I fear that many are afraid to speak the truth out of fear of getting backlash. 

Anonymous readers can hide behind a screen and type things that they would never audibly utter. This is the problem. 

The feedback feature has many benefits, and the majority of the time it functions in a positive way–complimenting an article, for example. Our staff also welcomes constructive criticism- keyword, “constructive.” By all means, give us helpful feedback that would allow for better and more artful pieces in the future. However, borderline bashing a piece will not better someone’s articles. To whoever reads our articles, if you are going to be harsh, please at least be transparent and identify yourself. 

Sophomore Diana Lichtenstein is  a Staff Writer. Her email is dlichten@fandm.edu.

print

Leave a Reply