Re: CSUF lockdown coverage by the Daily Titan

I have been going back and forth on whether or not I should send this email, because I have written for the paper in my capstone and greatly respect the work put into the paper, but I feel there are things that need to be addressed.

As a student with only an internship to fulfill this semester, I only read about the lockdown and kept up with the updates during it. The Daily Titan’s handling of the situation, I think, was good overall and the paper the day after was an example of that. However, I hope this event brings to attention your publication’s online and social media presence.

It was alarming to continuously see very specific tactical positions and movements of SWAT teams as they entered the campus. For as unlikely is the chance of the criminals finding out about the Titan’s tweets, to even take that chance, even if it was for the good intention to inform the reader, was incredibly foolish at best and potentially life-threatening at worst. These tweets proved to be extremely controversial in the comments that preceded it, which brings me to the second point.

I understand that the Daily Titan has the right to moderate its comments, but to see comments of outraged students completely disappear is alarming. While the tone might not have been agreeable, I do not believe they warranted a deletion. If this were to happen in a larger publication, the Streisand Effect would certainly chew through it, but I digress. Watching comments get scrubbed out has damaged some of the integrity that I thought Daily Titan once had. I don’t trust in the Daily Titan to allow me to have a public discourse with others anymore and couldn’t you argue that that’s what the whole point of journalism is?

To start a conversation. To have the community interested and be willing to communicate because they are informed.

Looking back at my opening paragraph, it seems that I am being disingenuous when I said the coverage was “good overall,” but I do mean it. There is some striking photography and a strong design sense that drew me to the articles itself and the articles were well-informed and written, but I urge you to look at and reevaluate your online presence and learn from events like these.

Editorial response: Lockdown coverage

Thanks Christopher for your honest critique. 

As a staff, we hope that we were of service to the campus and the surrounding community throughout the lockdown and subsequent manhunt on campus Wednesday. Our only intention was to provide as much information as possible to students and faculty who were stuck in their classrooms and offices.

Save for one tweet disclosing that SWAT officers were clearing the fifth floor of Mihaylo Hall and some of the tweets that were published earlier in the evening, the Daily Titan took care to give students information about what was going on outside without putting police in immediate danger; we realized that the information that we were publishing could be of use to an armed robbery suspect hiding in the buildings and stopped tweeting exact positions immediately.

In the future, the Daily Titan will take much greater care to limit the information that is tweeted if CSUF undergoes another lockdown due to a similar occurrence. We take full responsibility for this mistake.

As for the comments that were posted on our website, we deleted two Thursday afternoon that had been posted the previous evening. One was a comment by one of our broadcast reporters, identifying themselves as CSUF Broadcast, who was defending the coverage from individuals who made critical comments. We believe that this action by this reporter was unprofessional. After he responded, the individual replied back. We deleted both comments in order to end a petty argument. Deleting only our reporter’s comment would have created a confusion as to whom the response was directed towards.

We recognize the misunderstanding as well as our mistake in deleting these comments. At this point we should have kept both in place. 

However, the Daily Titan does maintain the right to moderate and approve all comments on our website to ensure civility and discussion free of harassment. As such, we regularly approve comments criticizing the paper, but deny approval to those who attack individuals rather than their work.

The student body has the right to criticize our reporting, but we will not allow malicious attacks on people.

We urge the student population, to keep it clean on our site. Comments are for the purpose of intelligent discourse. We cannot improve our coverage if the criticisms we receive are personal insults.

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