The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Staff Ed: Addressing Recent Controversy

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The Weekly Ringer Editorial Board discusses the intention behind their April Fool's edition.

An opinion piece published on October 23, titled, “Demonizing the police endangers everyone” by staff writer Shawn Fleetwood has received a considerable amount of backlash from the UMW community.

First and foremost, pieces that are published in the Blue & Gray’s Viewpoints section are not reflective of the views of the editorial staff or the University. Unless otherwise stated, all pieces published by the Blue & Gray Press are the work of students enrolled in the Practicum Journalism course and/or a part of the Blue & Gray club.

While no editor on the team agreed with the material discussed in this piece, we felt that refusing to publish would be actively censoring a student’s right to free speech. And while the sourced information in the piece is not entirely incorrect by itself, it has been contorted to fit a particular opinion that downplays horrific events that take place in our country, particularly in the last year.

For those who have voiced their anger about this piece, you have been seen and heard. We understand that the published opinion is not widely shared in our community for good reason. By keeping this piece on our website, it allows for the name of the author to continue to be attached to the opinion, as well as being responsible for the response from the community.

A precursor has been added to the beginning of the piece by staff to highlight that the Ferguson effect is widely criticized by scholars and activists. In addition, a news article on the Ferguson effect and a counter Viewpoints piece will be published in the coming days.

For those who continue to be displeased by the opinion piece, we encourage you to reach out to us and write a piece of your own to be published. As a student-run newspaper, we want to allow all student’s voices to be heard, even if you are not currently a part of the class or club.

Moving forward, we will be taking this outcome into heavy consideration if faced with a similar challenging situation in the future. We hope all of our readers can understand the difficulty in determining what can and cannot be published while also not restricting a student’s freedom of speech. 

2 thoughts on “Staff Ed: Addressing Recent Controversy

  1. Dear Editors: I find it interesting that you say none of you agreed with the article; yet from what I was told, it was suggested to the writer to change the name of the Viewpoint piece by one of the editor. It is ironic how swayed your editorial staff is and you only published it because of Freedom of Speech. Who are you to think your opinion is the right opinion? You probably don’t even understand half of what the Viewpoint article is about. This is what is wrong with our country, when young people like you think you know it all at the age of what 20? 21? And professors trying to push their political views on students which is not acceptable at all. If you cannot be unbias and objective to all viewpoints in your paper, you should not be editors of the paper. Stop trying to prohibit articles that don’t agree with your agenda. I saw an article that Trump is Bad for the Environment—shouldn’t there be an article that tells the other side of that? Why is your paper so one-sided; stop trying to put others down when just because you don’t agree with them. You probably don’t even understand half of what is going on in our country. Get your heads out of the sand, and accept all points of view. These are the things that divide our country; That is a job of a good journalist!

  2. Is there a particular professor in charge of this embarrassment of an editorial staff? Seriously, where did you learn this stuff? You have no need to comment on the factual accuracy of the article. I say that because you can’t. The mealy-mouthed statement of “not entirely incorrect by itself” is meaningless. The fact that you believe any sort of leftist nonsense and no amount of facts will sway your emotions is clear. You don’t need to begrudge that you hate alternative viewpoints because they conflict with your strong feelings on the matter. You should have left it at “viewpoints articles don’t necessarily reflect the views of UMW, the paper, or the staff.”

    More disturbing is your reasoning of why you decided to “keep this piece on our website.” Which tells us 1) you were trying to get rid of this viewpoints article because a handful of people disagreed with it. and 2) you are trying to bully and shame the author. [from the above article] The community has “good reason” to to have “anger” about this piece and “by keeping this piece on our website” it “allows the name of the author” to be “responsible for the response from the community.” It sure sounds like you’re hoping there is some negative outcome to the author. After all you’ve stated your position is that anger is justified and that it should be directed to [the author].

    Then your final flaccid statement is that you’ll protect the dwindling readership in the future by making sure no more naughty opinions get published. No wonder there’s no names attached to this piece.

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