Oct 092005

I find no cause to attack specific statements in Mr. Chapman's letter, nor to address him on his opinions, as they are protected by the First Amendment and would almost certainly have to be countered with opinion. I prefer to deal in causalities and proofs. What concerns me about the letter published is not the material, but the decision to publish it in the format chosen.

When considering the decision reached by the editorial staff we are left with one of two options. First, that the staff was aware of the reaction the column would garner. They noted that the writing was crude and the arguments almost completely unsupported, allowing it to be very easily attacked without need for thought. They then decided to publish it to create a reaction among the reader base much like Jerry Springer does with his audience. If this is the case, I cannot further argue the action as it provided a very strong response from the reader base and required little to no thought by those who would attack it. Right or wrong, judgment of this action is not easily proved, so that case must be left here.

The second case is my true concern. The second case suggests that the staff of the paper checked the article, found it to be sufficiently well written and published it on its own merits. This I must question. Mr. Chapman's column could have been rewritten in any number of ways to convey the same point but in a fashion much more intellectually stimulating and decidedly farther reaching – not to mention making it professional. This case speaks volumes about a group of editors who either had a bad day or are inadequate at their jobs. The argument being made in a column is not important to my issue, but how that argument is made clearly defines the legitimacy of both the author and the publisher.

So I leave you with this, publish this letter or not at your own peril. Mr. Chapman's article, as written, should never have made it to press. Not because his opinions may be considered invalid, and not because the column might generate anger in the reader. You should have stopped it because as a college paper, you have a responsibility to maintain a professional publication that an employer would consider a positive addition to a student's resume. Mr. Chapman's article does not stand alone in the field of extremely poor writing, but it is the proverbial "straw" on this camel's back. Do not dismiss the effect of failure to perform in the present, pretending it will not damage your future. If you cannot act for your own sake, act for that of the up and coming journalists who trust you to make them better prepared for a world that will not give them second chances.




AJ Johnson


junior, mechanical engineering


 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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