The outgoing editor of Princeton University’s student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, wrote an editorial this week blasting his classmates for pushing back against negative reporting about the student body.
Marcelo Rochabrun, a Princeton senior and the outgoing Princetonian editor in chief, wrote that in the past year his staff saw more pushback from fellow students than from the administrators who run the university.
“I have been surprised by the retaliation some of our writers have had to face not from angry administrators but from their peers, other students who did not appreciate stories that negatively portrayed certain aspects of student life on campus,” Rochabrun wrote.
Princeton students, according to Rochabrun, have criticised The Princetonian for its allegedly unfair reporting on student misconduct. Here’s how the outgoing editor summed up the problem that the paper faced this year:
A vocal minority of the student body has come to expect a paper that, if it does not properly advocate for the interest of the students, at least presents a semblance of solidarity with its peers … One particular comment on a recent arrest story was symptomatic of this thinking, a student wrote: “It’s amazing to see student publications more concerned with disgracing their student body than actually publishing thought provoking news.”
Rochabrun wrote that it wasn’t just angry comments, though. Student journalists sometimes faced real-life consequences for their association with The Princetonian:
While these consequences were mainly social — being banned from an eating club or being asked to leave a small dorm party, for example — others were serious yet highly improbable, such as threats of bodily harm or a conspiracy to plant drugs in the newsroom (I kid you not, I overheard the latter one day while walking to our newsroom at 48 University Place).
It may not be surprising that these issues emerged during Rochabrun’s tenure. As Bloomberg Businessweek notes, “Publicity-wise, Princeton has not had the smoothest of years.”
The campus controversies that The Princetonian has been tasked with covering include a sex-photo scandal at a prominent eating club, and the recent judgment from the Department of Education that Princeton violated Title IX regulations for sexual-assault reporting.
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