Hello, my name is Jason Tidd. I am a senior at Kansas State, was the fall 2016 news editor for the Collegian and the incoming editor-in-chief for spring 2017.
It was my decision to publish the stories about Billy Willson dropping out of K-State and I was the one who added the photos to the stories. Several people have demanded that we take down the photos or the stories about Willson.
No, we will not.
Willson made his decision, and his photo and shirt will live on the internet forever regardless of what the Collegian does. If his business fails and he has to apply for a job, a simple Google search by employers will find a photo of a man who publicly disrespected a beloved university, even if his message had value.
It is newsworthy because of the attention it received on social media and its relevance to students at K-State. The same was true with the racist Snapchat and the Kit Kat thief this past semester. In both of those cases we included the photos because they were vital parts of the stories.
If we had left out the photo, a major part of the story would be missing. I do not like stories that lack important information or images. Do not attack the messenger for giving you the whole story so that you can develop your own informed opinion.
The New York Times published the photo of the assassinated Russian ambassador to Turkey the same day we published a photo of a former student flipping off a K-State landmark. It is not a matter of whether or not these images are offensive or “in good taste.” Our job is to report all of what happened, which includes images.
If these stories or photos offend you, I am sorry that you need a safe space free of people who disagree with your thoughts on the university system, your love for K-State and your disgust of the middle finger. Our jobs as journalists are not to prevent offense.
I’m glad Willson’s post, the stories written on it and the issues addressed have received the attention they have. As the next editor-in-chief of the independent voice of students at K-State, I believe Willson’s message is one that should be included in the marketplace of ideas at our university, along with the voices of those who disagree.
The dialogue on the cost of attendance for universities and their role in educating the workforce and society is one worth having, and sadly it took a photo of the middle finger for anyone to even care.