Here’s a letter from yesterday’s Daily:
“To the Daily:
In my interview with the Daily regarding the anonymous flyers posted in Angell Hall (DPS investigates campus flyers as harassment case, 03/05/04), I said clearly that we do not know the truth of the allegations in the flyer. I was very careful not to lend credence to the accusations.
Separately, in response to additional questions from the reporter, I shared information about the Universitys policies regarding faculty-student relationships and sexual harassment. Unfortunately, the juxtaposition of those remarks in the same sentence as a discussion of the flyer makes it sound as if I have accused a faculty member of improper behavior. I have no reason to do so, and I never intended to leave this impression.
In addition to misrepresenting the views of Peterson, the article in question, “DPS investigates campus flyers as harassment case,” prints the name of the professor involved in the dispute. I would argue that when someone puts up flyers accusing a professor or instructor of “seducing students and consciously spreading sexually transmitted diseases” the Daily should consider not publishing the name – because if it is false, although they may or may not be committing libel, it certainly would be damaging to someone’s reputation and thus unethical.
Here’s one defense if the person in question does, in fact, decide to sue:
“The Neutral Reportage Defense allows news organizations to report false accusations made by non-governmental organizations and/or individuals which have a history of responsible behavior.”
And no, I don’t think anonymous flyers constitute a “history of responsible behavior.”