A letter from the Catalyst staff regarding the ‘New College, New Culture’ piece by journalism students at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg

The Catalyst is a collaborative project of Newspaper Writing and Production, an academic tutorial sponsored by Professor Maria D. Vesperi. Our 14-person staff works to produce a weekly newspaper as a way to inform our community while learning basic journalism skills and values. We meet twice each week to develop story ideas and to discuss journalism style, Associated Press (AP) style guidelines and ethical journalism.

The author of the ‘New College, New Culture’ piece is a former New College student, Haley Jordan (‘14), who also served as a reporter and, later as layout editor for the Catalyst. In her staff description for the web blog that posted her piece, Jordan states her former connection to both the Catalyst and New College.

The Catalyst would like to state that the ‘New College, New Culture’ piece does not represent the kind of journalism for which the Catalyst stands. The use of anonymity or pseudonyms, the absence of verified statistical information and the lack of basic AP style guidelines do not exemplify what the Catalyst tutorial teaches its staff. Additionally, we would like to state that the clear trivialization of the two tragic deaths that occurred on our campus in May 2015 is not appropriate, professional or respectful. As journalists, we are required to find credible, appropriate, fully attributed sources to relay factual, accurate information to benefit our community. The ‘New College, New Culture’ piece failed to do this.  

In the current political climate, it is more important than ever for news publications to distance themselves from so-called alternative facts and to consciously look at the stories that are being printed. Journalists have been tasked with a duty to report, rather than eschew fake news.  We expected more from a former Catalyst reporter and from the USF-St. Petersburg’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies.

Best,
the Catalyst staff

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