I just made the mistake of spending my lunch break at work looking at the Manitou Messenger online. I expected to see up-to-date information on events and issues at my alma mater. Instead, I saw the phrase "Masturbation Tips" in big bold letters.
This is disturbing to me for several reasons. First, while my employer permits me to use the Internet for some personal use, I am strictly forbidden to access any site that might be construed as pornography. Were someone to see the phrase "Masturbation Tips" on my screen, I could risk disciplinary action. You can rest assured I will not access the Manitou Messenger at work again.
Second, while I understand it is trendy for college newspapers to feature sex columnists, I do not understand the role such columns play in serious journalism. I do not find such columns in the Chicago Tribune, the Economist, the network news, or any of the major reputable news sources I read and watch. I would hope the focus of a college newspaper would be to provide a forum for quality journalism intelligent discussion of serious, wide-reaching topics that impact the college, its community and the world at large.
Third, while I recognize the First Amendment gives everyone, including college newspapers, the right to say just about anything, we must learn to balance that right to free expression with some modicum of decency. Please keep in mind the types of people who read the Manitou Messenger. Your audience is composed of more than current college students. It also consists of alumni and community members who might face real-world consequences if sexually explicit phrases unexpectedly pop up on their (or their children's) computer screens.
If it is necessary to cover topics such as masturbation in your newspaper, I hope you will consider placing such articles elsewhere on your website so those of us who wish to read the rest of the news might do so without risking our livelihoods.
Emilie (Woods) Danca '99