Herald needs to be better

On Nov. 18, the Prince Arthur Herald published an opinion piece called “Same sex adoption is not a game.” The piece was highly critical of same-sex couples adopting children. The McGill Daily reported that the piece prompted the resignation of four editors and 10 writers at the Herald.

The author, Rick Fitzgibbons, director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshoshocken, Pa. and a psychiatrist of 35 years, referred to same-sex couple adoption as “a cruel social experiment.” He stated that children suffer from having parents of a single gender. The article’s evidence was shaky and failed to address arguments from the other side’s perspective. It fell far below the Herald’s principle of “hearing all sides, cherishing intelligent and well-informed dialogue.”

The Prince Arthur Herald occupies a unique and particularly important niche. It’s an entirely student-run online paper based at McGill University that reports campus news on a national scale.

It’s been criticized as having a conservative slant but given the general liberal atmosphere on university campuses, the Herald offers a much-needed viewpoint.

That said, publishing a radical argument is never appropriate unless there’s solid evidence to back it up.

In the Nov. 26 article from the McGill Daily, a former member of the Herald said the paper’s business model included using controversy to build a base of readership, but that this has come at the cost of balance and integrity. He also stated that he’d been instructed to remove articles with a liberal slant.

There’s an argument to be made for changing an organization from within, but the editors and writers who resigned were perfectly justified in doing so.

An opinion piece has every right to be controversial, provided it’s substantiated with fact.

“Same sex adoption is not a game” simply didn’t meet this standard. In making sweeping generalizations about homosexual couples, the piece had an angry tone that bordered on hate speech. It was also built on poor research, citing a 1985 study to justify the claim that homosexuals are indelibly promiscuous.

Free speech is a guaranteed right, but a newspaper is accountable for what they publish. Because of the article’s basis in poor evidence and omission of contrary fact, it should be retracted from the Herald’s site.

The Herald needs to re-evaluate its policies and process to try to repair the problems that saw 14 staff to resign. It’s a new paper with obvious growing pains. If the Herald takes the events of the past week in stride, it can emerge a stronger publication.

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