Censorship and Distortion at a College Paper · 12 January 2006


By Jason Myers--Tearingdownthewall.com--01/13/06

My name is Jason Myers and I am a senior at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. I'm currently working on a double major in Political Science and American History.

Several months ago, I wrote a post on my blog concerning the issue of race relations in America and Jesse Jackson's role in it. A friend of mine, having viewed the post himself, suggested that I send it to the student run school newspaper, The Houstonian in order to have it published. I doubted they would print it, but decided to send it in anyways. The next day I was delighted to see my article printed in the paper. However, my delight quickly turned to horror as I realized what they had done.

Despite the fact that right next to my published letter was the quote 'Letters are run as is and not corrected for spelling or grammar." They had ruined it. The order of my paragraphs were rearranged, quotes of mine were purposely taken out of context, balancing points were intentionally left out and a lot of my actual words were even changed in a blatant attempt to make me sound like an angry racist.

Furious, I first went to the paper and after being disregarded, I went to the President of the University and was able to force the paper into issuing a retraction and a letter written by myself (unaltered) expressing my displeasure with the entire situation.

Here it is (Note: Given the fact that Sam Houston State, my University, is the alma mater of Dan Rather and the journalism department operates out of the 'Dan Rather" building, I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a swipe at him as well, I think you'll like it):

Retraction (which they allowed Jason to write himself):

Hello, my name is Jason Myers, and I am currently finishing up my senior year here at Sam with a double major in political science and American history.

A few days ago, I sat down and penned a very well thought out article on the progress of race relations in America and Jesse Jackson's role in it. I do admit to being a conservative Republican and I was critical of him. However, I also went to great lengths to be fair and give acknowledgement to the many great things he has accomplished for African Americans. I submitted this article to the paper in the hopes that it could be published and create a discussion. I stand fully behind what I wrote, and this is America, so if anyone has a differing point of view I'm open to a discussion (not here though. I no longer trust this publication, and I will be available on the online bulletin board).

What I do not stand behind, however, is the manipulated piece of trash, which was printed by this paper and attributed to my name.

Critical balancing points were intentionally left out! Arguments of mine were purposely presented out of context! A referencing quote I cited was attributed directly to me in the first person! The order of my paragraphs were rearranged, and a lot of my actual words were even changed!

All of this was done in a deliberate attempt to portray me as an angry racist, with no concern given to the affect that it could have on my personal reputation at this university!

Race relations is the most explosive issue in American politics today and in order for me to be judged fairly by my peers, I deserve to have my actual words printed on the matter, not some edited distortion of them.

I have spoken with many of my fellow political science majors, who have also shared with me experiences of articles they submitted to this paper which were similarly doctored.

Any naïve reader of this publication who might be considering sending a letter of their own to this paper needs to be aware of the fact that the editors regularly change the content and alter the premise of the letters they receive.

I've been following the press for a long time, and I've seen a lot of things, but this was by far the most ethically bankrupt hatchet job I have ever witnessed. And it is a glaring disgusting example of why the public no longer trusts the media.

However, given the fact that this is the house that Dan Rather built, I can honestly say that I am really none too surprised to see that this paper's editors have chosen to follow their deposed mentor down the same wretched sinkhole of disgrace.

This newspaper's editors are claiming that they now do not have the space to rerun the actual article of mine in its entirety and original form, which they should have run last Tuesday.

If there is anyone who was disturbed or offended by the article that was run two days ago, I urge you to please visit my website and read the actual essay I submitted to them.

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Jason Myers is a senior at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He regularly posts on his blog, www.TearingDownTheWall.com, which also features news from students Will Gardner and Leonel Mejia.