The Gatepost Editorial Board
During the month of April, The Gatepost received two formal requests for censorship: one from the co-chairs of the University’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and the other from the Student Government Association (SGA).
Both the CDI co-chairs and SGA requested The Gatepost remove an Oct. 16 Instagram post containing an image of the front page of that week’s issue. In that issue’s front page photo, an FSUPD officer was featured because of the Department’s support of the Pink Patch Project, a breast cancer awareness campaign. The officer chose to wear a Blue Lives Matter face mask for the photo.
This photo opportunity was planned ahead of time, and there was no FSUPD mask dress code in place in October.
Asking the officer to replace his mask in order to alter the content of the photo or photoshopping the blue line out would have been inappropriate. It is not the job of journalists to manipulate reality.
The Gatepost rejected these censorship requests.
We defend our rights as journalists to objectively cover all aspects of our community.
As the fourth estate, the press is protected by the First Amendment.
These requests for censorship were wrong.
The First Amendment does not solely protect international news outlets such as Fox or CNN – it also applies to student newspapers.
As journalists, The Gatepost staff has a responsibility to ethically report on all aspects of the
Framingham State community.
The Gatepost does not make decisions about reporting and photography based on a preferred ideological framework. Rather, it is our professional responsibility to set aside our own biases and belief systems in order to be objective.
While some individuals may make the argument that The Gatepost should take the post down because “it’s just a photo,” there are bigger issues at stake.
If the First Amendment rights of student journalists are infringed upon, it risks the credibility of the content they produce. It also compromises the integrity of the University as an institution where differing ideas are exchanged.
We appreciate the clear stance President F. Javier Cevallos has taken on this matter. He unequivocally has supported The Gatepost and our First Amendment rights.
We also respect the University’s top administrators for meeting with us on this matter over the past month, and for clearly understanding the role of an independent student newspaper.
We live in an era of intolerance and political strife. Our society’s current political climate is not an excuse to make inappropriate censorship requests of any news outlet.
While exercising our First Amendment rights as journalists, The Gatepost will not edit our content in order to favor a particular political policy or point of view.
We will continue to cover our community respectfully and fairly, and we welcome feedback from our readers.
However, respectful conversations are much diVerent than demands for censorship from University-recognized organizations.
The Gatepost executive board will participate in an already scheduled housekeeping exercise to archive some of the social media posts from the last 12 months. The Instagram post in question will be considered for archiving after commencement ceremonies – but not before.
The image of our front page, however, will remain permanently on The Gatepost’s website and in our online archives. We are simply not going to censor a previously published issue of The Gatepost.
This decision will never be negotiable.