Since the sexual misconduct allegations against Professor Sergio Verdú by graduate student Yeohee Im, The Daily Princetonian continued to cover the case. Recently, the ‘Prince’ published a piece detailing additional allegations of sexual misconduct Verdú has had with his graduate students. In response, members of the University community have expressed support for both Verdú and for Im. Yanina Shkel, a postdoctoral scholar in the ELE department, wrote a Letter to the Editor today critiquing the ‘Prince’s coverage of this case.
In order to maintain transparency for our readership, I am taking the opportunity to detail how we proceeded in this investigation and how we report — all while preserving the confidentiality of our sources as well as on-background and off-the-record information.
As a journalistic institution since 1876, the ‘Prince’ has been dedicated to providing readers with the facts. Often, that involves digging uncomfortably deep into a subject in order to tell the truth. Shkel notes in her letter that the ‘Prince’ article “seems to be driven by a tunnel vision desire to vilify Verdú.” I intend to refute that by detailing how we investigated the story.
Our reporter corroborated the allegations made in her story with several sources and reached out to many of those with knowledge of the allegations against Verdú. In addition, the ‘Prince’ made every attempt to protect the anonymity of confidential sources in addition to protecting sources in order to use information on background. Although some sources are unnamed in the reporting, they are known to and trusted by the ‘Prince’ as confidential resources.
The ‘Prince’ included that Cuff underwent an unsuccessful tenure process for the exact reason Shkel pointed out: it can raise questions. Additionally, Shkel wrote that we included that when our reporter contacted other women named in the allegations, they denied “having any non-professional relationship with Verdú.”
We include such information in order to let the reader judge for him or herself. The responsibility of the news section is to fully and entirely present the facts.
Shkel asks why the ‘Prince’ does “not offer the women named in these allegations the presumption of truthfulness that should be offered to all potential victims in sexual misconduct cases?” By reaching out to these women, the ‘Prince’ worked to cross-reference and confirm their denials, without making any presumptions.
While it is wonderful that Shkel’s experience with Verdú is positive, her experience does not negate the experiences of women such as Yeohee Im and alleged others. As a newspaper, we think it’s important to share all of these experiences — which is also why we chose to publish Shkel’s letter in full.
In every story — including this one — we strive to fairly report the facts. Our reporter worked with integrity, and I stand by that reporting.
Marcia Brown is Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Princetonian. This letter represents the views of the Editor-in-Chief only; she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.