On commenting and confidentiality
After receiving 172 mostly critical comments about its one-sided article — or to use its euphemism, a “stub” — the News censored its readers from expressing their opinions:
“The commenting feature for this article was disabled because comments were revealing confidential personal information on which the News did not report.”
Oh, the irony.
In its article (“Former YIRA President accused of Misallocating Funds,” Feb. 11) the News revealed confidential and personal information about an ongoing internal investigation, while repeating unverified accusations made in an internal email among active YIRA members. After facing backlash, the News hid all comments on the article and refused to accept any new ones. After two and a half hours, the News deleted and reposted the article without the 172 comments. Finally, it restored the first link, deleting many comments and leaving the remaining ones out of context. The News also deleted all of its Twitter posts referencing the original article. These cowardly moves — ones that silence the voices of readers — run so contrary to the ideals on which newspapers were built.
Newspapers are supposed to have values: accessibility, honesty and integrity. We give them our trust, and we expect them to live up to these ideals in return. Too often they shirk that obligation, choosing clicks and views over evidence and proof. While the News did apologize this morning for its unclear and incomplete reporting, it did not apologize for the way it mishandled user comments — and it published a new article which still mentions the student being investigated by name.
We must hold our fellow Yalies to an even higher standard of journalistic integrity, especially when it comes to dealing with such delicate material involving their peers. The News has not traditionally published such sensitive details about an ongoing investigation, nor has it restricted speech among its readers. We all make mistakes, but this one was costly. This bell cannot be unrung. Though it will neither undo the damage caused nor restore the trust lost, I urge the Yale Daily News to apologize for censoring its readers and revealing confidential information to the public.
The author is a senior in Davenport College.
A right to be informed
Tuesday night’s outcry against the News’ article (“Former YIRA President accused of Misallocating Funds,” Feb. 11) is wholly unwarranted and even baffling. When the Yale International Relations Association, which purports to be the largest student organization at Yale, emails its membership and accuses the former president of financial impropriety, this is a newsworthy matter. The News, as a Yale media outlet, reports on campus happenings and subjects of interest to the student body. Like any newspaper, it has an obligation to pursue the truth, but it should not have to wait for a guilty verdict before publishing reports of questionable activity announced by an independent organization.
The News in no way implied whether the accusations were true or false. Reporters did their job and covered the story as it developed. We ought to consider the alternative to coverage in the News: With absent newspaper reporting, it is likely that there would have been even more scurrilous forms of rumor-mongering, particularly given the hundreds of students who received the original YIRA email. While I believe that the accused should be considered innocent until proven guilty, I do believe the public has the right to be informed of the accusation pending a verdict. Perhaps as a community we should reflect on what it means that the very existence of an accusation implies guilt. In fact, this incident gives our community much opportunity for reflection — but only if we’re given access to the news.
The author is a senior in Morse College.
A Note on Online Commenting
The Yale Daily News allows readers to create online accounts for commenting on articles to promote informed discourse about our coverage and columns.
The News has always monitored that forum, and reserves the right to remove comments that do not comply with our User Policy, as posted on the News’ website.
A comment violates the yaledailynews.com User Policy if it contains:
- off-topic, incoherent or inappropriate remarks;
- personal attacks, threats or foul language (including expletives and letters followed by dashes);
- advertisements or other spam;
- or if it targets or otherwise singles out a Yale Daily News staff member.
The News stands by any decision to suspend commenting in order to protect the privacy of individuals mentioned in articles and to ensure compliance with the User Policy.