Rank&File addresses questions over article in November issue

Letter from the Editor

Gwyneth Murphy – Editor-in-Chief

In our November issue, we published an article entitled “Criminal Justice increases prop security following graphic video.” Rank&File articles go through an extensive editing process, and this story was no different.
We felt justified in its publication because we conducted research from the course syllabus and the Students Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R), found student sources willing to provide quotes with their names attached and, most importantly, we kept all identifying details about the student involved in the incident out of the article.
Certain parties questioned the legality and ethicality of components of the article, beginning with our inclusion of “declined to comment” at the end of the story.
It is standard practice to use that language if a source critical to the story informed us they did not want to participate in an interview, which they let us know via email.
Once a source declines an interview, unless we receive notice of new interest with enough time before our publication date, we must run with the original declining statement.
Furthermore, the reporter was legally allowed to take the photograph accompanying the story because reporters can publish images of faculty or students as long as they have not officially opted out at the start of the year, and as long as their image is not alongside an endorsement.
We also have the right to not include quotes if we feel justified in doing so. In the case of this article, any exclusion of quotes from an interviewee was done rightfully and with the intention of producing the most informative, clear story possible.
We absolutely recognize the errors in the story, and have made immediate strides to correct them. The quotes did not match the words of the interviewees entirely, which came down to the reporter’s improper choice to record the interview in a noisy classroom, and the lack of attention to detail when transcribing the audio file.
Though their overall point remained unaffected and the reporter took no quotes out of context, they should have used brackets to indicate any minor change to a quote.
Besides brackets, we do not touch quotes out of respect for complete accuracy and the reputation of our publication and any parties involved in the story, which the reporter failed to adhede to.
I taught an ethics lesson at the start of the month to reinforce proper quote transcription and interviewing practices, which the class will continue to incorporate more heavily into the curriculum.
But most importantly, it is critical for our readers to understand the rights we have as a publication and the precautions we take to ensure balanced, unbiased reporting at all times, even if we do not do so perfectly every issue.
Ultimately, this publication is a class and also student-run, so every mistake we make or feedback we receive has been and will continue to be an invaluable learning opportunity for this staff.

Letter to the Editor

My name is Katherine Abul-Hawa and I would like to speak out on the article published on the video taken with a fake gun. I was present when the reporter interviewed Regina Honigford and Danny O’Connor and I was also being interviewed. Both O’Connor’s and Honigford’s words were taken out of context and splayed to make the Criminal Justice department look bad. I repeatedly claimed in the interview that the guns were never out in plain sight and that student acquired the gun from a locked cabinet during a test. However, everything I said was omitted from the article. I hope the situation can be figured out because the article was completely unfair to Mrs. Humphries and Mr. Gills. Thank you for your consideration.