For the record: I stand by our story

Kaitlin Fleming, Editor in Chief

This past week, The Chanticleer published a story about a student reporting on social media that there were three white dots on her vehicle’s windshield and that she believed it was a ploy used in human trafficking. 

Since then, many of our readers have been asking why the story ran if we are unable to make a concrete connection between the three white dots on a windshield and human trafficking. 

Here is the timeline of events from the moment we were made aware of the post on social media, to the posting of our story on the incident:

Upon receiving the information from the original post, Scott Young, news editor and reporter for The Chanticleer, reached out to the Chief of University Police by email. 

Chief Schaffer responded to the email and made it clear that UPD had been made aware of the claims and were investigating the situation. He also stated that he spoke with East Metro Area Crime Center and no information was available about three white dots in a pyramid being related to human trafficking.

I then researched other claims of this nature and found similar claims made in 2017 and 2018 from different states across the U.S. I could not find any solid evidence that white marks of any kind on a car’s windshield was related to human trafficking. 

Young then reached out to the student who reported the incident on social media. He and Patricia Wisenbaker had a conversation over Facebook Messenger and she explained the incident to him from her point of view.

Based on the circulation of Wisenbaker’s original Facebook post, I deemed it necessary to run a story about the incident. I felt that it would be neglectful of the paper to have information about this situation and for us to not report it.

In the age of social media, things get shared on Facebook and Twitter simply based on keywords, fear and curiosity. After our investigation into the matter, I felt it was our duty to inform students, faculty and the surrounding community of the facts of this incident instead of letting them get their information solely from a social media post.

So, we ran the story.

Throughout the story, The Chanticleer made clear that this was a ‘possible’ ploy and the Chief of the University Police was quoted in the story having said, “We were unable to find any report or information linking dots in a triangle to trafficking in the area.”

We have simply reported on the fact that the student reported the incident and that the UPD is looking into the matter.

While UPD has not confirmed that this is a tactic used by human traffickers, they stressed to Young the importance of remaining vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity to UPD immediately.

Our original headline raised many questions, however. There were people who assumed that UPD claimed the incident was related to human trafficking and we have changed the headline to be more clear and we did so within a few hours of the story being online.

While we strive to always be factual and accurate, sometimes words translate differently than intended. We never meant to confuse or scare anybody.

The story gained a lot of attention based on the content it surrounded – human trafficking – and I believe that the story was shared without being fully read. If the story was read in its entirety, I find it hard to believe that there would be any questions in regards to the validity of the story, sources or claims. 

It is never our intention to scare or confuse our readers. We simply report information we receive in the most accurate and factual way we can, and sometimes, we miss the mark. In this case, we did not miss the mark. We, especially Scott Young, wrote an incredibly well researched and well sourced article.

I do recognize that the original headline which read “UPD warns students to be aware of possible human trafficking ploy” wasn’t the best choice of headline, but it does not change the validity of the story. Our new headline, which reads “UPD warns students to be vigilant after student reports possible human trafficking ploy” reflects the story’s message better and is accurate.

I, as Editor in Chief of the newspaper, stand behind this story, News Editor Scott Young, and this newspaper 100 percent and I do not regret that we printed the story. 

We will continue printing factual stories for the remainder of my term as EIC. In case anyone is wondering, we keep meticulous records of all interviews, communications, etc. with our sources and can easily point to each quoted statement and background information given.

Further questions or concerns can be directed to

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