Claire Higgins’ article, “Student voices discontent with professor,” has created a lot of buzz this past week. We are not apprehensive about publishing an article with a touchy subject; as journalists it is our job to report the facts. But reporting comes with moral and ethical responsibilities that we don’t feel were executed when the decision was made to publish this article.
The use of an anonymous source is really looked down upon by fellow journalists, because there is no way for the reader to know that the journalist isn’t writing an opinion piece or making the story up. There is no proof.
Secondly, the database RateMyProfessor.com was used as a source. A source is there to support the story, but the fact that RateMyProfessor.com can be updated by anyone makes it unreliable in our book. Not to mention that the quote used in the article was deleted and can no longer be viewed. How is the reader supposed to know that it ever existed? It doesn’t matter if you have a screen shot. The reader will most likely never see that.
There might be a story here, but without the facts we can’t hold the story accountable. We don’t understand why it was urgent to report this story immediately. The fact that information had to be withheld does not justify publishing defamatory content without seeking truth that is provable.
It also doesn’t justify disregarding the Code of Ethics. The anonymous student is not in danger of failing the class. He is in danger of passing the class without putting in effort. We understand being upset with not receiving the education you are paying for, but at the same time, as a student paper we are trying to write like other professional papers. It wasn’t this article’s time to shine.