In a Real Time segment from 3/16, Bill Maher criticized some students at Emory University in Atlanta, at 2:40 of the video below stating "this is one story among many. It happens all the time on campus."
Because it captures our attention when it does, it may seem to be more common than it is. However, it happens too often, and recently at two major universities. At Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, The Daily Northwestern spanked itself while writing
On Nov. 5, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke on campus at a Northwestern University College Republicans event. The Daily sent a reporter to cover that talk and another to cover the students protesting his invitation to campus, along with a photographer. We recognize that we contributed to the harm students experienced, and we wanted to apologize for and address the mistakes that we made that night — along with how we plan to move forward.
One area of our reporting that harmed many students was our photo coverage of the event. Some protesters found photos posted to reporters’ Twitter accounts retraumatizing and invasive. Those photos have since been taken down. On one hand, as the paper of record for Northwestern, we want to ensure students, administrators and alumni understand the gravity of the events that took place Tuesday night. However, we decided to prioritize the trust and safety of students who were photographed. We feel that covering traumatic events requires a different response than many other stories. While our goal is to document history and spread information, nothing is more important than ensuring that our fellow students feel safe — and in situations like this, that they are benefitting from our coverage rather than being actively harmed by it. We failed to do that last week, and we could not be more sorry.
"Ensuring that our fellow students feel safe" is more the responsibility of a college's administrative staff or campus police than that of a newspaper, whose mission should be informing its readers. If its not, there is little reason for continued existence of the publication.
Nearly one thousand miles to the east
Harvard’s Undergraduate Council voted to pass a statement at its meeting Sunday in support of immigration advocacy group Act on a Dream’s concerns about The Harvard Crimson’s news policies and made recommendations to make reporting policies more transparent.
The statement, passed 15-13-4, comes after The Crimson covered Act on a Dream’s “Abolish ICE” protest in September. After the protest, Crimson reporters contacted a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson for comment. More than 900 people and several student groups have since signed an Act on a Dream petition condemning The Crimson’s decision to reach out for comment.
You probably see this coming:
“The Undergraduate Council stands in solidarity with the concerns of Act on a Dream, undocumented students, and other marginalized individuals on campus,” the statement reads. “It is necessary for the Undergraduate Council to acknowledge the concerns raised by numerous groups and students on campus over the past few weeks and to recognize the validity of their expressed fear and feelings of unsafety.”
"Unsafety" isn't even a word. Nonetheless, when pandering to the fragile and self-centered, proper grammar is no more important than good reporting, which appears irrelevant to a newspaper disinterested in seeking comment from the target(s) of a protest. Reporting only one side of a story without regard to opposing perspectives is no way to commit journalism.
The press should strive to get all the news and get it right. In contrast, The Daily Northwestern concluded "Through our coverage, we know Northwestern students to be passionate, thoughtful and just. Every day, we strive to encapsulate all that you are and all that you deserve." "Encapsulate all that you are" sounds a lot like confirmation bias. Instead of striving to encapsulate the bias or values of its readers, campus newspapers should give them all they deserve- the facts as they are and not as we wish they would be.
The press should strive to get all the news and get it right. In contrast, The Daily Northwestern concluded "Through our coverage, we know Northwestern students to be passionate, thoughtful and just. Every day, we strive to encapsulate all that you are and all that you deserve." "Encapsulate all that you are" sounds a lot like confirmation bias. Instead of "striving to encapsulate the bias or values of its readers, campus newspapers should give them all their public all it deserves- the facts as they are and not as we wish they would be.