The independent news organization of Duke University

Why we pulled the plug

You'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who values the right to free speech more than a journalist.

That's why it was with great disappointment that I asked our online team to pull the message board function of The Chronicle's website down in mid-August.

Several members of the University community contacted me about comments posted on the board that they said were racist, repulsive and unbecoming of both The Chronicle and Duke University, and I agreed and was more than happy to remove those comments. After some reflection, I decided that in the short term, the more drastic step of disabling the boards was necessary.

Since the lacrosse case began, The Chronicle Online has been a major discussion site for those interested in the case. Although the vast majority of our readers that posted have been willing to conform both to basic standards of decency and to our request avoid profanity and vulgarity, there are others who have seen fit to post obscene, offensive and objectionable content, including racist and sexist speech.

That will not be tolerated on our website.

I am unhappy to find The Chronicle in this position; I think the message boards-as well as the ability to comment on articles, which will remain available and continue to be monitored-can provide a valuable public service by creating a forum for discussion.

The level of discourse reached such a nadir by August that we could not allow the boards to continue without careful screening of all comments on a regular basis. At the moment, we do not have a good method for implementing such screening.

As soon as we are able-which I hope is very soon indeed-the boards will be reactivated. It is my hope, however, that users will ensure that such close monitoring will be an unnecessary precaution.

Please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions about this matter-or, as always, about The Chronicle in general.

David Graham



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