College Media Sex Scandals, Fall 2009

This is the fifth installment of a multi-post glimpse back at the highlights and lowlights of fall 2009 in collegemediatopia.

Sex Scandal Award: Towerlight, Towson University

The Towerlight at Towson University was in serious flux last October because of Lux, the pseudonymous writer behind the sex column “The Bed Post.” The column divided the newspaper’s editorial team, incensed the university president, and caused a media ruckus after the editor-in-chief quit (?!) in the wake of increasing administrative anger and school officials’ subtle and overt attempts at eliminating the content.

A Baltimore Sun editorial: “There may indeed be little journalistic value in ‘The Bed Post’ . . . Aside from its questionable taste, it violated many of the standards student publications traditionally are supposed to teach aspiring young reporters and editors, such as the necessity of judging what is worthy of coverage as news and a willingness to stand behind the facts in a story. . . . [But] it should have been up to the students to come to those conclusions, not have them dictated by lawmakers and university administrators. The first lessons student journalists in a democracy learn should not have to be how to survive under the censor’s arbitrary fist.”

Runner-up honors to the Dakota Student at the University of North Dakota. In late November, the pub printed  a supposedly satirical column that advised men on how to execute successful one-night stands. It was roundly criticized “as a guide on how to commit rape . . . [and for] joking about abuse.” Among the comments lodged beneath the article: “This is terrible, you just told guys how to rape a girl.  This is so wrong on so many levels.”; “There are some things you don’t satire, even an idiot could figure that out!  What if women who were raped read this . . . This could be a horrible, painful trigger for [them].”; and “The satire hit on a hot button issue, which is exactly what it is meant to do; it elicits emotional responses. This particular piece does little to address an actual issue, but rather pokes fun at cliche date rape methods.”

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