Accusations of sensationalism misguided, uninformed
Since the April 2 online publication of a news article titled, “Man becomes trapped in ditch after cutting through between fraternity homes,” it has become more than clear that a considerable portion of University students do not read past the headlines of our stories. Headlines are meant to grab a reader’s attention while maintaining factual accuracy and a general summary of the story itself — that’s exactly what was done. A man became trapped in a ditch after cutting through the space between two fraternity homes, specifically the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) and Theta Delta Chi (TDX) houses.
While many interpreted our first Facebook post about emergency vehicles in front of the DKE house as sensational click-bait, the post merely spoke the truth. Reporters from The Daily Targum spoke with patrol officers and paramedics who were standing on the sidewalk directly in front of the house, and that brief discourse was made known in the article with the mention of their lack of commentary. The intention of the vehicles was later made clear, once the information was verified, in both the print and online versions of the article, which factually reported the assistance two fraternity brothers provided to the man in need.
After our article was described as “sensational,” along with contradictory parallels to both Fox News and “a liberal circlejerk,” it has become obvious that most people calling our credibility into question have no idea what “sensationalism” is. This became especially visible when a merely speculative and inflammatory article by 10worthy.com’s Steve Gazibara circulated inaccurate information online. His “story” is a prime example of sensationalism itself, especially considering how Gazibara didn’t bother to reach out to The Daily Targum for a comment on the situation before publishing.
As a result of recent scandals plaguing fraternities and sororities since the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester, it has become apparent that the University’s greek culture has become so thin-skinned and hypersensitive that any mention of greek letters puts them on the defensive. It has become such an issue that if you are not part of a fraternity or sorority, or explicitly stating something positive about one, then nobody has the right to say something with any reference to greek life, even for location accuracy.
The Daily Targum is a newspaper, not a PR agency. Even if we were, there’s no conceivable way we could write about every greek service event. We have an obligation to specify location accuracy to serve public interest, particularly when physical safety is of concern — that’s exactly what was done. In this case, a man literally became entrapped in a construction sinkhole between two fraternity houses. Most students know where the DKE and TDX houses are, not many know that Rutgers Hillel is constructing a new building between them at a site with unstable ground movement.
If you want The Daily Targum to omit the fact that the accident occurred between two fraternity houses, would you also ask us to omit what we printed about the two DKE fraternity brothers finding the man and contacting emergency services? Or perhaps, should we present an à la carte menu of facts from which one can decide which ones should be included and omitted?
The accusations of sensational reporting on social media reflect an effort by a select few to inflict an Orwellian worldview on the press, in which the mere printing of a word or phrase, such as “fraternity” or “greek life,” has become a dog-whistle to call out the troops, who attempt to create manufactured controversy where it doesn’t exist.
If the reporting of emergency vehicles outside a fraternity house is viewed as sensationalistic, I can think of no other explanation aside from paranoia and hypersensitivity that doesn’t serve the University community in any constructive manner. If the students making accusations took the time out their day to actually read past the headline, perhaps they would notice The Daily Targum wrote about the DKE brothers in a way that any reasonable person would consider to be a positive light.
If you are willing to make the effort to denounce The Daily Targum’s reporting on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and anonymously on Yik Yak, perhaps you might want to consider voicing your concerns in a more formal format by writing a letter to the Opinions Editor at email@example.com, or by commenting on the online version of the article.
Dan Corey is a Rutgers Business School first-year student majoring in pre-business and journalism and media studies. He is an Associate News Editor at The Daily Targum.