Column – Inside our pages: There is a line

Some readers took offense to an advertising insert in Monday’s paper, claiming it was “inappropriate and ignorant,” and an attack on women’s rights. And I’m not talking about the L’Oreal hair dye coupon.

The Human Life Alliance’s advertising insert, clearly labeled as such, was nothing short of pro-life propaganda. How could our beloved liberal campus newspaper distribute such biased information? Isn’t against the journalistic tenets of fairness and objectivity? What kind of tasteless individual allowed this to run in the paper and attempt to sway readers views about abortion?

I did. As editor in chief of The Hatchet, I have the task of supporting a newspaper by advertising revenue while upholding standards for what will be associated with our pages. To make this process simpler each time a controversial advertiser comes up, as they have a few times this year, and to hold myself accountable for my decisions about ad content, I have guidelines for what absolutely cannot run.

Unacceptable advertising content for The Hatchet includes anything that contains offensive images, vulgar speech or photos or libelous statements. The paper also will not accept anything that advertises illegal activity. Pretty simple, right? But just where, you ask, is the line?

Obviously there is a bit of subjectivity in these decisions. I approach each advertising decision with the intent of running it unless it is absolutely impossible according to our standards. Complaints have arisen over other ads, from the scientology insert at the beginning of the year to the egg donation ads the frequently run. As for the Human Life Alliance insert, the speech inside is presented through the pro-life opinion and not directed toward an individual, therefore is not libelous. Had the flyer included horrific images sometimes used to promote this cause, like dead fetuses or medical procedures, it would not have run.

By these standards, it becomes pretty obvious that The Hatchet would gladly give “equal time” to a pro-choice advertisement, as some readers voiced concerns about. That is, if an advertiser paid The Hatchet’s listed price for such an insert.

Advertisements do not reflect the opinion of the newspaper or any of its staff members. They are simply a reflection of a business transaction, that we would put an advertiser’s material in or with our paper for a set amount of money. And if a pregnant young woman is facing the choice of abortion, I certainly hope she has more sources of information to turn to than an advertisement in the school newspaper.

-The writer, a senior majoring in journalism, is Hatchet editor in chief.

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