Video by Chapman Croskell
Editor’s note: Editorials do not reflect the view of all employees of the Collegian, but instead represent a stance taken by the Collegian’s editorial board, which consists of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, the digital production manager, the news editors, the opinion editor, the sports editors and the arts and culture editors.
As journalists and members of student media, The Collegian staff are well aware of the enormous importance of the First Amendment. After all, free speech and freedom of the press are two tenants of our democracy that we have to thank for our existence. There’s a lot to be gained from the discussion and exchange of ideas, and indeed we encourage a free market of ideas at The Collegian.
Unfortunately, there are instances that cross the line into inappropriate behavior online. Behaviors like harassment and stalking have become easier in the digital age, and studies show that feelings of anonymity online can encourage these forms of cyberbullying and abuse.
In an effort to promote the safety of readers and members of our staff, and to keep discussions about our content relevant and civil, we have created a new policy on comments to collegian.com and our social media platforms. Here is our new comment policy:
The Rocky Mountain Collegian encourages discussion and discourse within our comments section, but we reserve the right to moderate and ban users for the following behaviors:
- Hate speech or slurs based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or creed.
- Ad hominem (personal attacks) against another commenter or writer.
- Proselytizing (attempting to convert others to your religion) or otherwise advertising your religion or attacking someone for theirs.
- Doxing (posting someone’s address or personal information online) in order to intimidate a writer or another commenter.
- Spamming our website with promotional offers or links to other sites.
Any of these behaviors are not the types of discussion we believe in giving a platform. Above all, be mindful as you comment and be courteous to others.
From here on out, this is the code of conduct we will expect from our readers when commenting on our content online. Understanding that our platform allows greater viewership and visibility, we are choosing to moderate comments with you in mind.
We are not coming for your free speech, but rather, recognizing our responsibility to not give hate speech, attacks, solicitation or stalking online a megaphone by allowing it to thrive in our comments section. We know the power of words at The Collegian and we daily grapple with the potential harm that can be done by the misuse of language. As such, we do not believe in giving these unacceptable behaviors a platform on our sites or social media accounts.
However, we also recognize that true engagement is not yelling into an echo chamber, but rather having a conversation back and forth. Because of this, we will not only be changing our policies for conduct for our readers but also holding our own staff to a higher standard online. Here’s what you can expect from us going forward:
- Protection of your right as readers to disagree politically, philosophically, religiously or otherwise with any of our content, so long as you are not harassing others in the process. No matter how much you disagree with us, we will always have your backs on respectful dissent.
- A new Facebook commenting system to help keep anonymity from emboldening malicious behavior online by attaching comments to profiles.
- Responses to reader feedback and comments by our staff members. We recognize that we need to do a better job engaging with our readers online and are making it a priority to interact with the community we serve.
- No engagement in arguments or flame wars on our site or social media by our staff, as outlined in our Social Media Contracts, available for the public to read in full as part of our transparency initiatives.
- Zero tolerance for threats to our readers. Any reports from you will be taken seriously and promptly investigated.
We love our readers, and want to take this moment to thank you for your engagement with our publication. We hope that you will join us in following our code of conduct online and that you will reach out to us with any feedback or questions that you may have. It is the commitment of our Digital Production Manager, Mikaela Rodenbaugh, to answer these personally. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at /mikaela.rodenbaugh or on Twitter @mikarodenbaugh.
The Collegian editorial board can be reached at email@example.com.