Disclaimers Are for Pansies

Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed below do not necessarily represent those of idiots.

Disclaimer II: The names have been removed to protect the very, very guilty.

A college newspaper has recently printed an article accusing one of their frequent contributing writers of plagiarism. The writer was informed of this article beforehand, and asked that it not be printed, due to both the unfounded libelous nature of the article, and to the devastating impact such an article would have on his reputation as a professional.

As I mentioned before, the paper printed the article. The paper printed the article with a disclaimer at the top of the page. “The opinions reflected in these articles do not necessarily represent those of the editorial staff.”

Also, as I mentioned before, the target of this article was one of the frequent contributing writers. The paper has not printed any of the many articles he has submitted since the accusation. I could easily see this as a coincidence, but it’s a little too close.

I can’t help but wonder if people could just suck it up once in a while and accept responsibility for what information they make available to the public. I mean, the offending writer can make accusations of his colleagues until he’s blue in the face, or hands, if that’s more appropriate, but the damage that’s actually done is by the paper that prints him.

This same paper, a few months ago, ran an anti-abortion flier inside, with the same disclaimer on the front page. That’s not the point of a college newspaper. The paper shouldn’t make any half-hearted attempts at conveying a message. If you’re going to print something that isn’t objective and factual, at least have the guts to stand behind the words you committed to newsprint. The only way to objectively abstain from taking sides in any issue is not to post a disclaimer. You can’t print an unfounded accusation any more objectively than a person can write one.

It only takes a spark to start a forest fire… You don’t see park rangers running around with signs that say “the damage caused by these flames is not necessarily the direct fault of the ranger staff.” Man up, newspapers. If you receive a submission that goes against the general message of your paper, you do have the option not to print it. Stop giving idiots matches and saying it’s not your fault when innocent people get burned.

Sir Odd


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