Staff ed: Journalism, minimizing harm and trauma


The Oracle is Hamline’s independent, student-run newspaper. One of our core tenets, to minimize harm, exists for us to hold ourselves accountable for the way our news affects the lives of individual students, and the Hamline community and student body as a whole. Those in our community have expressed that a letter we published has caused them harm. We have decided, as an editorial board, to take it down. 

In no way are any of us on this staff or on the Editorial Board experts about journalism or trauma. We are, however, dedicated to actively supporting, platforming and listening to the experiences and voices of members of our community. 

We are a student publication that is here to provide a space to elevate the voices of students. Our work is of no value if at any time our publication is participating in furthering harm to members of our community. 

Our website acts as a space to widely share information and as a digital archive. We believe that what we publish is a matter of public record that reflects and includes the viewpoints of our community that creates space for having conversations in the open that would otherwise be left in private. We hope these conversations can lead to transparency and accountability. However, our publication will not participate in conversations where a person must defend their lived experience and trauma as topics of discussion or debate. 

Pulitzer Center describes minimizing harm as having “compassion and sensitivity for those who may be adversely affected by news coverage.” We will continue to consider and scrutinize our coverage and angles to elevate the stories of members of our community. It is not a publication’s job to challenge or define sensitive experiences or trauma. If and when situations arise where these stories are shared, it is our responsibility to listen to and carry them in the most supportive, respectful, safe and beneficial way for the story’s stakeholders and our readers. 

We have learned and experienced from our first day at Hamline, a liberal arts institution,  the importance of seeing things from a nuanced perspective. However, trauma and lived experiences are not open for debate. 

We also want to take this opportunity to thank the members of our community who continue to read, respond and discuss with us about how our publication affects them. We recognize it is never these members’ job to educate us or anyone else at this institution and we hope to be an area of support, allies and, as Alicia Garza said, co-conspirators in the journey to a more just and equitable institution and society.