Facing the Facts


As your campus newspaper, we’re responsible for relaying the campus climate to you: Trinity’s students, staff, faculty and community members. We strive to do this as accurately and fairly as possible. That is why we recently have focused on raising our standards for accuracy to ensure the articles and columns we publish do not misrepresent the story at hand.

This specifically comes to mind after last week’s editorial on consent. Last week’s editorial, written by the editor-in-chief, brought up the statistic that one in five college women will be sexually assaulted. This statistic is widely used and accepted, but should it be?

Journalist Emily Yoffee wrote an in-depth article for Slate Magazine on how sexual assault allegations are handled in college, and through her research found that the one in five statistic — although widely accepted as the truth — is not accurate. She wrote about how the research only takes into account college-educated women, and that one in five is actually an extrapolation from a study with a limited survey sample. The editorial board didn’t know this at the time, but having done more research, it now seems right to own up to our mistakes and acknowledge where we can do better.

The “one in five” example is part of a larger problem happening in media today — accepting statistics and facts from any news source without double-checking the research behind them. We are taught in our all of our classes, especially those involving research, how vital it is to support the argument you make through evidence. What good is your argument if your evidence is incorrect? We are taught to be wary of research that comes from a small sample size, doesn’t survey a wide variety of people and makes large conclusive claims without many results to base it off of. If these are some of the standards that we hold to be true, why aren’t we following them outside of academia?

At the Trinitonian, we are working on being better about running articles and columns that are not completely fact-based. This can be particularly difficult to determine in our opinion section. It is not unheard of for us to ask columnists, whether on staff or a guest, to revise argumentative pieces that we know to be based on anecdotes over research. While we can’t catch everything and some things do slip through the cracks, the editors are doing their best to relay information to you that is relevant, accurate and important.