T-Shirt Debate

Wide range of responses after controversial photo on front page

Last week the Torch published a controversial article and photo on the front page of the newspaper about two students selling T-shirts.

By now I’m sure most of you have seen the photo on the front page, which contains two very distinguishable curse words. The response the Torch received from the story has been overwhelming.

The Torch Web site, fsutorch.com, had more hits last week than any seven-day period since the site converted to WordPress in December 2009. The day “Stop the Presses” was published, the website had 849 hits, 236 more than any other day. The story itself has had 734 hits in less than a week, the third most of any Torch story ever.

The poll on fsutorch.com was related to the story and had a record 91 votes. The 30 comments on the story is unusually high for a Torch story as well. If generating meaningful conversation around campus is not our goal, then what is?

It was not the Torch’s intention to offend anyone with this article. But it is our job as a student newspaper to give the students a voice. It is our responsibility to report news on the campus of Ferris State University in a truthful and fair manner. The Torch was in no way encouraging anyone to purchase a shirt nor were we agreeing with the administrators.

We simply reported what was happening on campus. I understand we could have moved the photo off of the front page so it was not glaring you in the face. We could have even left it out entirely.

I chose to publish the photo on the front page because it directly related to the story and it provided news value. Had we not put the photo in the paper and had we not used the words that are on the shirt, the readers would not have known what we were talking about. It is always our objective to be as clear as possible so there is no confusion.

I apologize to the parents of young children if they were exposed to the profane language. Our intent was not to use those words just for the sake of using them, but to give context to the story. We received some negative feedback about running the story, but for the most part everything was positive.

The Torch’s intent is to write for the students and to provide news that is most important to them. n