Celina Oseguera is a journalism senior and Mustang News editor-in-chief.
Everyone has an opinion. Though opinions can fuel debate and conversation, they can hurt people as well. The Mustang News staff and I realize the opinion piece “Return to rationality: Homosexuality and the slippery slope” did more harm than start a conversation.
Publishing this opinion piece has caused this campus and the marginalized groups in it a lot of pain and we are deeply sorry. And I’ll be transparent, this piece has angered and hurt many of those on my own staff. Neither the opinion piece writer, opinion editor nor myself intended this piece to cause the pain it did. Its only intent was to reanalyze the arguments sometimes used to support the LGBTQIA community, arguments used to encourage others to accept the sexual orientation as a social norm instead of taboo. It was not meant to target the LGBTQIA community, but to examine the arguments themselves. We as a staff now realize how naive we can be when addressing issues that affect groups of people with whom we don’t share the same experiences. That was ignorant on our part and we apologize.
The opinion editor and I did our best to make sure the opinion piece had a clearly formulated argument. We have a strong protocol for how stories are pitched and edited, but “Return to rationality: Homosexuality and the slippery slope” should have received much more attention on our end. For example, there was a factual error that was in the newspaper version that has since been corrected online.This mistake has taught us to be more vigilant than ever. You, our audience, deserve that.
To ensure this sort of harm does not occur again, we will add one more step to the writing and editing process for opinion pieces or articles that involve sensitive topics — speaking to groups or people whom an opinion piece can potentially affect. We did not reach out to any individuals that are part of or connected to the LGBTQIA community to read “Return to rationality: Homosexuality and the slippery slope” and give us feedback before we published, and for that I also apologize. We will take steps to build stronger relationships with different communities on campus in order to receive feedback on opinion pieces that may affect them. And we encourage any group on campus who feels they can teach us to be more inclusive and informative in our writing on these sensitive topics to please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and pitch me your ideas for how you would like to make this happen — we are open to ideas such as diversity workshops for reporters or a session on how to sensitively write about LGBTQIA issues. Though we have members on staff who have these experiences and can teach us, I feel learning from our audience is necessary since we serve you and would like to hear your voices, not our own.
You can email me about things beyond just possible workshops or sessions. You can contact me about any concerns you have. If you would like to write a letter to the editor in response to the opinion piece or anything that is on your mind, my email is open. I understand not everyone feels safe publishing their name in this way. If that is the case, you and I can meet and talk about your thoughts and we can discuss how to publish your story/thoughts another way. If you choose to write a letter to the editor concerning the opinion piece, we will add it to the ongoing list of letters to the editor that are on www.mustangnews.net right now. There is a post on our website dedicated to the letters concerning “Return to rationality: Homosexuality and the slippery slope” that many of you have already sent in.
Though the opinion piece has caused harm, we will not remove it from the website as many of you have requested. We have a no-take-down policy here at Mustang News. We only take down articles that are potentially libelous or have such egregious factual errors to where the entire premise of the article is invalid. We have never taken an article down in the time I’ve been here (four years) for this reason yet. Instead, if there are errors, we have corrected them and made notes on the online article so people understand the mistake, our retraction and the process. For “Return to rationality: Homosexuality and the slippery slope,” we made some factual errors, but we have both corrected them and have written this editorial to explain the situation. We aren’t keeping the opinion piece up just because of this policy. We are also keeping it up as a reminder to both ourselves and you, our readers, that we could have done so much better. It will remind us of what to never do again and it will remind you that you have every right to question and call out your media.
My email, the newsroom phone line and newsroom itself is open to anyone who would like to talk about the opinion piece and the pain it caused. We are here to serve you and that means being transparent and listening to what you have to say. Once again, we apologize, and we are ready to do what we can to regain your trust as a reliable news source. We realize this may take some time, but we strive to amend our relationship with everyone we hurt.