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Editor’s Note on the weekly sex column

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Many of you probably picked up today’s paper expecting to read the next topic in our weekly sex column. I fear many of you will be disappointed.

Instead, I feel this is a more appropriate response to the recent controversy that erupted over our publication’s decision to run last Thursday’s “Whose pleasure is it anyway?” sex column about oral sex and an accompanying photo illustration depicting the sexual act.

As copies of the print version hit stands on Thursday and the story went up online, response to the third sex column we printed eclipsed the previous two by a fervent and substantial amount.

Some of our readers — those who chose to comment on our Web site, write a letter to the editor or simply voice their opinions in person — reacted strongly to the material.
Many felt we made an error in judgment and felt we had jeopardized the credibility and reputation of our student newspaper. Others felt we had resorted to an easy and sensationalist approach at attracting readers and driving up our online traffic.

Some readers felt we had disrespected the victims of the Metrolink crash by featuring the column in the same issue with stories of the tragedy.

But as a student newspaper, we work diligently to ensure we cover student and campus life as accurately as we can. Our rationale behind starting a sex column, as we stated in the introductory article that ran the first week of school, was to provide a weekly column that would offer insight, advice and expert opinions on a vast array of topics dealing with sex and human sexuality.

Many college newspapers across the country have similar columns, some far more graphic than ours. Not all of them, however, choose to run photo illustrations in conjunction. Many of the people I have spoken to remark on the relatively tame nature of the column and what they characterized as a provocative photograph.

It is always difficult to predict the boundary of what is acceptable by a variety of viewpoints in society. We are a diverse and large campus and to cater to any one demographic or viewpoint would be to misrepresent our community.

This has been a teachable moment for us as a staff and we are more confident than ever in our commitment to free speech, and are grateful to be at a university that understands the role and freedom the media plays.

Moving forward, we recognize that to strengthen our column, we must include expert voices, statistics and other valuable information that can help to educate and inform our readers.

A very small portion of the comments online echoed a sense that the column was no big deal and that people needed to feel more comfortable with the topic.

We also encountered a peculiar case of one individual who commented multiple times, identifying himself as different people and expressing his extreme disgust with the paper and his desire to see our publication shut down. This person also took it upon himself or herself to contact administration officials, local media and people who advertise with the Sundial to let them know that we had printed the column.

We identified this person’s comments on our Web site and delegated them to a separate page where we spoke of online commenting ethics and our moderating policy.

As a staff we have had to examine our reasoning process behind running the column and photo illustration and critically explore if we made the right decisions in doing so. We want our readers to know that the decision to run the column was not made in haste and underwent much scrutiny by members of the editing staff.

Ultimately, however, as the editor in chief I am responsible for the content in the newspaper and stand by the reporter, photographer and section editor. The verdict on whether or not running this column was appropriate, tasteful or necessary is not one I have the right to make.

Readers decide, and some make known, their judgments on the content we print.

I do not subscribe to the notion of perfection and am ready to admit that mistakes will be and are sometimes made by us as a staff. All I can guarantee is that with everything this paper publishes, transparency, accuracy, ethics and accountability are at the core of what we as student journalists aim to accomplish at the Sundial.

Sincerely,
Lilianna Oustinovskaya
Editor In Chief, Daily Sundial

23 Comments

  1. hiring questions Jan 13, 2010

    lol yes sir, interest is definitely there.

  2. Vienka Dec 7, 2009

    love this post. I see many comments here hahahah, yah i think this title is interest for every one.

  3. steph Nov 21, 2009

    I think honest and frank discussions about sex is a good thing and will only help to decrease the amount of unknowns and risky practices out there. Unwanted pregnancies and STD’s are rife because people do not know the true risks they are taking with the practices in their sex lives. That said we do not need it to be so in our face that there is no hiding – its the same with sex as any other subject, all about finding a happy medium

  4. Lucy Nov 7, 2009

    After reading all of the comments left on this article i have nothing more to add except that students like stephanie and alonso apparently check their emails daily to keep responding to one another (god forbid we act like adults here).
    The article regarding oral sex was HORRIBLY written by the way so whoever is trying to defend it should go and do some honest reading on well written journalism articles. We all know the Sundial does not offer the most literly gifted writers and so we have to make do with what we have. As EIC, you should have obviously been shocked by the graphic and provocative photograph displayed next to the article. How could you have not found that inappropriate? As a female reader, I was completely disgusted by its suggestion and the obvious power it gave to men. I’m sure no man reading that artcle found anything wrong with it except that the writer did not give her boyfriend more bj’s. PLEASE get some actual writers in the Sundial who can write mature ADVICE giving articles as opposed to the load of crap that is being given to us instead. Get statistics, interviews with “experts” on the topic and give the CSUN student public useful information so we can protect our bodies and stay safe. Thank you.

  5. Watch TV Shows Free Nov 5, 2009

    Strong opinion, I love this post. I see many comments here hahahah, yah i think this title is interest for every one.

    I am only can say “keep your best work” don’t think about them”. It’s your own opinion right?. People free to write anything that they like.

  6. Jason Oct 28, 2009

    Stephanie and those responding to her, please get a hold of yourselves and stop leaving juvenile comments such as those you’ve already posted. I really hope you’re freshman so I can simply attribute this to a natural lack of maturity, as no adult university student should act like this if they want to retain any respect of their peers.

  7. LGBTAgirl Oct 22, 2009

    Well reading this I understand why people would have so many complaints.

    My only input is that your sex column is biased in the ways that it only reaches out to the Straight community on our CSUN campus. CSUN’s LGBTA (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alliance) has vastly expanded and is very active on our campus. You sex column, while interesting and informant, is geared towards the “mainstream” straight community on our campus. I do not think this is fair because it gives false definition to sexual acts, when it may be true for the straight community, but could mean something totally different to the gay community.

    I think this is unfair, biased, and can be oppressive to not give equal access to the Gay community here on this campus as much as-is given to the Straight community.

    I suggest either going out and researching both the Gay and Straight community when writing an article or just dont write it at all. When I read these articles, I feel disappointed that the writers are so focused on what society sees as “the right way,” or what is deemed as “acceptable” in our society.

    So I urge you to expand your outlook and include the LGBT community in your articles and not close these doors on us.

  8. kevin Oct 8, 2009

    I hate conservatives. People, you thought that was over the top? Grow up.

    I urge you to visit dailycal.org and search for their “Sex on Tuesday” column. Not only is it informative, it also acts as an advice column for those of us that aren’t self-proclaimed sex gods.

    If you can’t handle the blatant truth that is the real world, then find something else to do. College is too mature for you.

    Note to the CSU Board of Directors…can we make IQ a factor in turning students away?

  9. Pixxi Sep 29, 2009

    I enjoyed the article and believe that it was an opinion> People should learn to be a bit open minded and respect the thoughts of others. If you feel as though it was not as informative or education, then you should do your part and join the Sundial to put your perspective out there for people to read and think on. I viewed it as fair content and whether or not I agree with it, I respect the fact that the newspaper is able to use their freedom to write what they want.

  10. Jeanette Sep 24, 2009

    people just want something to complain about. however, they dont complain when they’re in action!

    PS. hey alonso dont be mean.
    && stephanie dont call someone
    a low life if youre going to be
    wasting your life replying
    to all the people who say stuff about
    you. with all due respect,
    it makes you look like the
    immature low life. neverthless
    its good that you want your
    opinoon to be heard. come on
    kids lets all get along =]
    i super agree with Jennifer.
    the faculty member comment
    was a bit harsh…the article
    wasnt horrible, it just needs
    improvement, quite a bit but
    thats okay nobody is perfect!

    well have a blessed week everybody!

    by the way, completely off topic
    i love social distortion!

  11. Alonso Sep 20, 2009

    TARD! lol Stephanie is a tard tard tard!

  12. Stephanie Sep 19, 2009

    Sorry guys, Alonso rubbed off on my computer and it too became slow thus not noticing that the reply had already been published ONCE.

  13. Stephanie Sep 19, 2009

    Alonso, you need to find a new word because tard is done with coming from you. You killed it with your tard this and tard that. That’s referring to last week’s comments you decided to post. WE GET IT! You love talking about tard. You love nothing better than to eat it too huh? Well guess what buddy, you are what you eat.

    How old are you, 15? Grow up and use some big kid words. You’re in college now. There go another few grand being wasted on someone the likes of you who can’t even fathom not using “tard” in every sentence and varying up his choice of words. And as far as being a week late, I think you’re not getting what’s being discussed here — last week’s article and the decision to have it published. Since the topic isn’t being dropped it’s safe to say I’m not a week late.

    You’re comment was a bit on the slow side, but it’s ok. It happens to the best of us, in your case the worst.

  14. Alonso Sep 18, 2009

    Stephanie is a tard. The freaking letter here acknowledges that some mistakes were made and that they’re working to make the column better. Everything Fephie says is pretty much a new critique of the column that ran last week. You’re a week late, TARD. Geez, get over it. Oh yeah, and Lily is going to own McDonalds one day. Stephanie will either have to get a job from Lily, or blow people in the streets.

    We all know she won’t refer to last week’s column to help her in how to get the right technique at that.

    1. Stephanie Sep 19, 2009

      Alonso, you need to find a new word because tard is done with coming from you. You killed it with your tard this and tard that. That’s referring to last week’s comments you decided to post. WE GET IT! You love talking about tard. You love nothing better than to eat it too huh? Well guess what buddy, you are what you eat.

      How old are you, 15? Grow up and use some big kid words. You’re in college now. Theres another few grand being wasted on someone like you who can’t even vary up his choice of words. And as far as being a week late, I think you’re not getting what’s being discussed here — last week’s article and the decision to have it published. Since the topic isn’t being dropped it’s safe to say I’m not a week late.

      You’re comment was a bit on the slow side, but it’s ok. It happens to the best of us, in your case the worst.

  15. Stephanie Sep 18, 2009

    “. . . rationale behind starting a sex column . . . was to provide a weekly column that would offer insight, advice and expert opinions on a vast array of topics dealing with sex and human sexuality”

    ——

    I may be more dense than I thought, but how exactly did the article on oral sex provide us, the student body, insight, advice and expert opinions? That’s what you said the column was supposed to do right?

    First, how did the article offer insight other than to let us know her boyfriend gets no oral pleasure from her?

    Second, lets talk about the so-called “advice” we are supposed to have gotten from the article — none given. The article was all opinions. To me, opinions are a person’s thoughts on something; I take these lightly. Advice, on the other hand, I do take more seriously because usually when someone gives advice it’s because they’ve actually experienced whatever it is they’re giving advice about. An opinion is what you think. Advice is looking for help and not someone’s thoughts.

    lastly, the “expert opinion” — the word expert, as a noun, is defined as “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority” by Random House Dictionary. the same word, this time as an adjective by the same dictionary, is defined as “possessing special skill or knowledge.” how do any of the opinions in the oral sex article constitute as being “expert” opinions? if she had spoken to a physician of some sort, a sex therapist, or even a relationship counselor and they gave her their opinion on oral sex, THEN I would feel more inclined to agree with it being an “expert opinion.” Did She? No, she did not. Instead, she went asking people who are no where near experts for their opinion.

    Ultimately, however, as editor in chief you suck at your job. Hey, there’s always McDonald’s right?

    1. Sam Sep 18, 2009

      You make a valid point – the article did not give advice. It was not well written, but that doesn’t mean the type of article as a whole should be stopped.

      “Ultimately, however, as editor in chief you suck at your job. Hey, there’s always McDonald’s right?”

      When reading comments like these, I find it hard to believe the person writing it could possible by happy. You are a person who is miserable with life, so you resort to hateful comments behind the protection of your internet screen.

      1. Stephanie Sep 19, 2009

        No, actually i’m extremely happy with my life. I don’t think i can recall being miserable in quite a long time But i’m sure do since you can speak so candidly of it.

        And i’m not against discontinuing the type of article. On the contrary, I think this type of article is really necessary especially nowadays when people are just into hook-ups and not so much into establishing meaningful relationships. Actually, regardless of what kind of relationship you want to have with someone I think being able to learn about sex and/or different types of sex is good.

        If you’re intimate with your other half then articles like these should be there to help you. Maybe you’ve tried what’s being discussed and failed or disliked it. But like we both agreed upon, that last article didn’t and this b.s. we’re getting about how she had no right to make the choice to run the article is unbelievable. And if that is in fact true then how easy would it have been to just send the article back to the writer saying that it needs a little more work (that it’s a good rough draft but not completely there yet)? I bet if that had happened the article would’ve been even the slightest bit better. Or maybe it did and it was worse beforehand?

        And I realize now that I was really in the wrong to say that she sucked as EIC. It does make me seem pretty miserable. Sorry, truly I am. It just bothers me that she has such a high title and that she doesn’t do her job. She should’ve known that article was gonna blow (no pun intended). You don’t get to be EIC without learning a few things along the way, like what articles will be really great to run and which won’t.

    2. Marianne Forester Sep 20, 2009

      Get a life you effing tragedy!

      1. Stephanie Sep 21, 2009

        Hey, Marianne, go play in traffic. The big kids wanna have a conversation okay? Thanks a bunch!

  16. Faculty Member Sep 18, 2009

    Frank discussions of sex are healthy and valuable. The problem with the bj article was not that it was graphic, but that it was horribly written and conceived. This is the substance of the article: some people like to give bjs, some don’t, but no one should feel that they have to. No revelation here at all. No analysis of changing values over time. No statistics. The piece was an embarrassment to the field of journalism.

  17. Nita Sep 17, 2009

    In some sense you do have to decide appropriate content…your hopefully the last word with careful consideration and you are ever so capable of doing so. Sorry you stand so close behind the people who brought forth the article. I believe this diminished the notion that it was a teachable moment for the paper. I believe you should discuss Human Sexuality…just try to do so with more respect to everyone and a bit more expertise on the topic. Consider a look at all the other papers that do so…ie.: NYT. Finally, Lil’ take a closer look and take care!

  18. Jennifer Sep 17, 2009

    I really like the column, i think people failed to see the real meaning of the article. A sex column would be a great thing for the daily sundial, either way those people who dont like it will still read it by curiosity.

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