Letter: Misleading blurbs have no place in journalism


Letter writer Evan Hilton urges journalists to produce more accurate blurbs in headlines. 

Evan Hilton

When I received The Daily Dose in my inbox today, I was surprised to see “Iowa State syllabus labeled as racist, sexist and more…” as a headline.

Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination have no place on our campus, full stop. But when I read the article, I was shocked; I had had that professor. But the more I read, the more I realized that whoever wrote the blurb had been editorializing.

Professor Clark’s syllabus was against policy and may have been unconstitutional. I am not a lawyer, so I decline to comment on those matters. But to call the syllabus racist and sexist for saying that discrimination on the basis of race or sex would not be tolerated is mind-boggling asinine. Only Fox News could come up with something like that, and, as it turns out, they were mentioned in the story as having picked the topic up.

The headline on the site reads, “Iowa State English professor edits syllabus to match university standards,” which is accurate, if admittedly not something that comes off as newsworthy. But I didn’t see that headline; I saw the one in the email. The syllabus may have been political, and that is a problem. But to call it racist or sexist when no discrimination on either front was in the syllabus is shameful.

I don’t know who wrote the blurb. I doubt it was the author of the article, given that the article itself is well-written, matter-of-fact and unbiased. My only complaint on that front is that while the article mentions abortion, the tag “Abortion in Iowa” doesn’t fit. But there needs to be a discussion about what is and is not acceptable in blurbs; dragging someone’s name through the mud should not be considered acceptable.

Evan Hilton is a sophomore in computer science and bioinformatics.