On July 21st, members of the Trinity community were inundated with calls, emails, and other methods of communication through the TrinAlert system. Although each outlet essentially relayed the same statement, the student body, a majority of whom were off campus for the summer, were only warned that threats were received and that all buildings would be card ID access only. For hours, those of us hundreds or even thousands of miles away from Hartford were left to speculate what was going on at our school. Many assumed there was an active shooter on campus.
Instead, a collection of Campus Reform readers were informed of perceived threats made by Professor of Sociology Johnny Williams towards white people. The original article published on the conservative news outlet, in an unabashedly biased article, created a narrative of Professor Williams as a black supremacist and Trinity College as a wildly liberal school, lost to the left-wing of the American political spectrum. The use of the hashtag “let them fucking die” and the most provocative statements of the article shared (but not written by) by the Trinity professor were strongly suggested to be Williams’ own words. By the time the headlines had been repeated throughout national news outlets, the story of what had occurred at Trinity was widely exaggerated, dramaticized, and inaccurately covered.
We are undoubtedly living in a time of “fake news,” where even the most formerly reputable news sources are met with distrust and skepticism. The reporting of Campus Reform, a borderline propagandist outlet, has created a right-wing interpretation of a professor’s private Facebook account that has ignited nationwide protest from conservatives. However, journalism used to serve a political agenda is constantly prioritized over accurately informing readers, in both left-leaning and right-learning outlets.
At the Tripod, we are looking forward to embarking on a semester of ground-breaking and thought-provoking reporting. Our ultimate aim is to create an outlet for the serious engagement of difficult, contentious dialogues with student journalists and the community at large. While we will recognize and regulate our own inescapable biases, we will remain committed to providing accurate information to readers. We encourage the administration to communicate with our offices and to promote transparency between all facets of the Trinity. Most importantly, the Tripod aims to bridge the undeniable gap between the administration and student body and keep all those who are willing to take a paper from our stands informed.