Dear readers at ECU and abroad,
I would first like to thank you for the responses to our Sound Off in last Thursday’s issue. Regardless of your feelings on the piece, the columnist, The East Carolinian or the university as a whole, we appreciate any and all feedback. While that may sound like an automated line, the editors are genuinely grateful for all responses.
So why did we publish it? Firstly, we would never publish a controversial piece without a rebuttal. On the same page, we featured a contrasting opinion by Abby Brockmeyer. We felt that presenting both sides to the issue was important. We also are interested in opening a campus-wide discussion of an issue, and to our surprise, opened up an international dialogue as well.
Whether or not you agree with every word we put in print is not the point of the Opinion section. If you agree with every column in every issue, you wouldn’t pick up the paper. As stated before, we still stand behind our decision to print Cochran’s piece. We have dedicated today’s Opinion page to the issue and are still welcoming responses from all readers.
The recent opinion column, “Should birth control be offered on campus?” by Ben Cochran has caused quite a stir around campus. Though TEC staff members realized there potentially could be consequences of publishing the article, they did not expect that the article would gain both national and international coverage as well. To understand how the article’s integrity became compromised, it is important for one to acknowledge the publication procedure.
The editing process is an in-depth one. Once an article is written and submitted, the section editor edits it and determines if it is worthy for publication. The article or column sometimes goes through several rounds of editing, guaranteeing that it meets the standard of the section of which it will be published. Throughout the entire process, the only people allowed to see the unpublished version of the column are the section editor, writer and cartoonist/photographer, when necessary.
It is forbidden in The East Carolinian’s policy to allow anyone to see an unpublished composition — period. In this particular situation, the article, unpublished, was sent to an employee. The crack in the foundation of protocol was obvious, as the raw article was wrongfully submitted to the virtual world. This breach in TEC’s protocol spread like Internet wildfire and was redistributed by websites such as Jezebel and College Confidential. There has been a significant response to both the published and unpublished versions of the column. Jezebel, for example, shares both versions of the article along with commentary, “Second, I’d like to thank him, for introducing me to a form of misogyny I never even knew existed. I did not know that guys were mad at chicks for clogging up doctor’s offices with their slutty ladyparts, but now I do, and my faith in the human race has decreased proportionally.”
Multiple responses to the article can also be found in countless blogs across the web, not to mention over 500 comments on the column on TEC’s website.
In today’s edition of The East Carolinian, there is space for people’s reactions to the Opinion column that has gotten such an impetuous amount of attention. If you have any additional feedback, feel free to continue to leave comments on TEC’s website or submit letters to the editor. We will continue to welcome any responses readers may have.
If you were among the many who were offended by my column last week, then let me take this opportunity to offer you a heartfelt apology. I am well aware that my stance was not a popular one. As an Opinion columnist, my primary goal is to generate informed discussion. To that end, I intentionally try to be provocative. As such, sometimes my columns offend people. Please understand that my intent was not to cause people to become enraged. I simply hoped they would disagree with the expressed opinion and state reasons for that disagreement. I wanted to see a lively debate, and hopefully, learn something in the process. The position I argued for is a valid opinion by virtue of the fact that it is an opinion. Unfortunately, my word choice was not the best. I cannot believe I said “conscientious” when I really meant “conscious,” among other things. From now on, I will take greater care to exercise better judgment. As always, your responses are welcomed and encouraged.