Friday, February 16, 2007

Had a bit of an identity crisis with NYconneX about the latest update this week. I had assigned a reporter to cover the story about the band and choir CCAs leading the college in the flag-raising ceremony on Wednesdays. The report that came back was that a few students were critical of the new ritual and wanted it cut back.

The article drove me ballistic because -- freedom of the press and anti-censorship sentiments aside -- firstly, that wasn't the story I had asked to be covered; and secondly, the story was unrepresentative, biased and lazy in the way that it laid out a critique without trying to understand the situation first.

NYconneX plays a delicate balance between showcasing our students and their CCAs, while simultaneously drawing feedback from the students about the goings-on on campus. Our job isn't to be partisan either way (sound familiar?) but to just report things as they are, to provide a behind-the-scenes view that is not usually obvious to the student body. That means we have to be fair to all parties and give everyone a hearing in our stories.

If anyone's going to be critical about anything we write, that's what we have Haloscan and our tagboard for. We don't provoke, but we do lay down a platform for students to discuss issues among themselves, using our stories as a stimulus. Or they can email us and suggest story ideas to cover.

So what did I do about the offending story? I took some time to interview the staff in charge of the band and the choir to get their perspective of the matter and used that info to balance out the story. By right, the reporter should have talked to the student leaders of the CCAs who are actually in a position to offer knowledgeable commentary from the students' perspective, rather than just some random student-in-the-parade-square with some uninformed off-the-cuff quip.

We don't want to be shut down by the powers-that-be, but neither do we want to lose our credibility as a student 'paper. It's a bind that ST is often criticized for, and I'm starting to appreciate that unenviable position.

Anyway, the Officially Ammended, Politically Sanitized article is now up for public consumption. Click here to see a conflicted press in action.

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