Daily Free Press Editor Fired at Boston University Over Controversial April Fools’ Issue

The editor-in-chief of The Daily Free Press at Boston University has been fired in the wake of the controversy surrounding yesterday’s April Fools’ issue.

In a letter posted to the Free Press website just after midnight, the newspaper’s board of directors confirms it has asked EIC Chelsea Diana to immediately resign.  Incoming editor-in-chief Steph Solis will ascend to the top editorial spot sooner than planned while also still handling her current gig as campus news editor.

The staff reshuffling announcement from the board is mentioned in the second paragraph of what is mainly aimed as an apology to readers.  It attests, in part, “We cannot apologize sincerely enough to all those who were offended by the inexcusable editorial judgment exercised in Monday’s annual print-only April Fools’ Day issue of the Daily Free Press. . . . Considering the events of this semester and the increasingly vocal, constructive climate of conversation about sexual assault and many other important issues on campus, much of the content of Monday’s issue was incredibly harmful, tasteless and out of line.”

As I previously posted, the Daily Free Press became The Disney Free Press for a print-only April Fools’ edition yesterday.  Spoof stories in the issue discussed Cinderella’s alleged involvement in a prostitution ring, BU frat brothers slipping Alice in Wonderland LSD, and the dwarfs from Snow White participating in a group rape of a female BU student.  Readers have condemned the content for perpetuating a campus rape culture and mocking victims of sexual assault.  BU has been especially attuned to such issues due to recent campus events, including a high-profile scandal involving sexual assault charges brought against a pair of university hockey players.

Beneath the board’s letter, a small number of impassioned online commenters were mostly critical of the forced resignation decision, calling it a rash move unfairly singling out Diana for an issue undoubtedly created and approved by many staff.  A portion of one comment: “Seriously?!? This [letter] reads as if Chelsea is the only one working at this paper and is solely responsible for what happened.  It is a good thing that you took action to correct the unfortunate events but you would crucify one of your own to save your own skins?  This is complete cowardice. . . . Sleep well knowing that one of your employees is probably a mess right now because you made her face this alone.  I don’t even know the girl and this is infuriating.”

One other comment snippet: “Chelsea, your April Fool’s issue sucked.  The rest of your work this semester has been solid, and especially ironic props go to your comprehensive coverage of the conversation surrounding sexual assault.  I’m sorry the Board’s panic has put you out of your unpaid 70-hour job. . . . Board of Trustees, grow a pair. This is a case study of letting one mistake grow into a PR nightmare.  Social media makes it easy for a minority to seem like a lynch mob, and it’s up to you to maintain a level of stability and continuity in the newsroom. This was a very weak move, spurred on by the hate of a loud few.”

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