Dear readers of The Catalyst,
As we publish our first issue of the new semester, we’ve become aware of a contentious issue that has arisen surrounding The Catalyst and our campus communities. In light of the confusion about our purpose on campus and the way we go about our reporting, we chose to take this opportunity to initiate a conversation about the role of The Catalyst as an independent media source on a college campus.
In accordance with the standards set among professional journalists, as laid out by the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, our first duty is to facilitate an exchange of “accurate, fair, and thorough” information in order for Colorado College students to effectively make informed decisions. As such, we are not a partisan publicity source. We are not a media outlet to be used and engaged with only when convenient. We are a news organization and a historical record of campus events, and we believe we would be neglecting our journalistic duties to knowingly ignore current campus happenings.
However, as ethical journalists we are also obligated to minimize harm whenever possible. In our reporting, we do not seek to mislead our sources, intrude unnecessarily, or publish information that could unduly harm our sources and our community members, even when we may be within our legal rights to do so.
Many of you may have received messages over the past weeks regarding the planned RA strike on campus, and it is our intention to address questions that have arisen surrounding that issue. While the information contained in the following account has been verified, we are choosing to respect the wishes of those involved by including no names or quoted content in this edition.
On Jan. 10, 2020, a signed letter was sent from some Colorado College resident advisors to The Catalyst explaining plans for a strike and other actions in regards to a disciplinary measure taken against one RA at the end of Block 4 of the 2019-2020 academic year.
Ten days later, on Jan. 19, The Catalyst received an email from the same account asking to rescind the open letter and informing us that the situation was resolved.
The RA open letter and surrounding events are newsworthy issues for the same reason they are sensitive for everyone on campus: they relate to our community members, without whom this newspaper would have no purpose. As such, we, the editors, have spent much of the last few weeks struggling to find a solution to our dilemma as those responsible for independent news on this campus who still have an obligation to protect members of our community.
Most stories evolve over time, and this particular situation did just that. As a weekly newspaper, The Catalyst is particularly aware of these evolutionary tendencies, as we have the burden of delivering news that will be relevant for an entire week. We cannot report on this event the way we would have last Friday, or the Friday before. This is true not only because of the rescinded open letter, but also because the situation today is completely different than when this letter was sent to our community.
As journalists, we are not here to be timid in delivering information to those who rely on us. We have a duty to this campus to remain independent and to record what will one day become a historical account of Colorado College’s events and student body. We believe this situation was a further opportunity to reflect on our role, and we invite our readers to reflect with us. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Josie McCauley Berry Phillips Heather Rolph
News Editor Co-EiC Co-EiC