National News Coverage Spurs Hateful Comments and Threats

By Nate Sans

Coverage of the Sept. 11 memorial protest set off a firestorm of responses, jettisoning The Campus’ coverage nationwide and setting records for views online.

At the time of print, The Campus had received over 80,000 views on the three stories combined, from IP addresses registered all across the country. The online fervor culminated with 48,134 views on Thursday, Sept. 12. The coverage set the record for the most views in a single day, and currently accounts for approximately 25 percent of The Campus’ total hits.

Shortly after learning of the incident, Editor-in-Chief of The Campus Kyle Finck ’14 wrote several paragraphs for posting on The Campus’ website along with a photo of the vandalism in process taken by Rachel Kogan ’14. Editors from across the paper worked to update the content and post additional photos to the paper’s website, Twitter and Facebook pages.

Throughout Thursday and Friday, the story gained national attention with various articles appearing on the Addison Eagle, Burlington Free Press, Business Insider, CBS, Daily Caller, Fox Nation, Indian Country Today Media Network, Inside Higher Ed, Times Argus, University Herald, and WCAX, in addition to a number of blogs, such as Breitbart. Many articles were filled with comments, condemning the protestors’ actions. Further, WPTZ posted a video about the incident, while both the Huffington Post and Addison County Independent reached out to the College and community for additional comments.

The national and local attention paid to the story set off a barrage of comments — more than 500 — on The Campus’ website along with numerous op-ed submissions. But the anonymous comments also provided a forum for an outpouring of hate, directed mainly at the protestors and at the College as a whole. Campus editors monitored the comments around the clock, deleting nearly 100 comments because of direct threats, curses and other breaches of The Campus’ online conduct policy.

“The comments we deleted on our site really appalled a lot of us moderating the discussion online, and we didn’t even receive the worst,” Finck said. “It was scary to see the amount of vitriolic and threatening comments left up on other news outlets’ sites.”

In particular, Finck singled out the popular humor blog Barstool Sports, which also picked up the story and ran The Campus article on Sept. 12 with commentary written by one of its editors. The posting attracted a large number of comments, many of which were profane attacks directed at the persons who removed the flags from outside of Mead Chapel.

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