Criticism of Honest Journalism

Last week saw intense drama regarding a possible scandal in the AAS E-Board elections; the details of the incident, now notorious amongst the student body, do not need to be repeated here. While The Student would like to refrain from commenting directly on the incident until the Judicial Council releases its official verdict due this Thursday, we would like to talk about a related topic that students raised both in reference to our recent article and in the past: accusations that The Student is biased, sensationalist or lacking journalistic integrity.

The Student would like to say, before anything else, that we accept our responsibility as the sole all-campus newspaper to be a truthful institution, dedicated to improving our reporting on the basis of feedback from the student body. It would be hypocritical of the editorial board to criticize the AAS’s flaws as a public body when we can’t recognize our own flaws. However, we also feel the need to clarify certain facts about our operation and publishing procedures to the student body in order to explain where our commitments lie, and why we choose the actions and perspectives that we do.

The Student is independently funded. In addition, we do not receive any revenues per hit on our website, per copy picked up and read, per comment posted or per Facebook link shared. These things do not affect our funding and therefore have no bearing on our positions as writers or editors. We naturally care about our overall readership: but we care about it with the goal of producing a newspaper that we hope an enthusiastic student body appreciates for its content — not with the goal of writing whatever it takes to get people to read The Student, which would be to the detriment of the quality of the paper and of benefit of no one, including our own editorial board.

What is our guiding policy, then? We have two aims: freedom from censorship and a commitment to printing all the news that the student body deserves to know. At times, opinions will be incendiary, and news articles will have shocking revelations to make. We refrain from personal attacks and hate speech; we do not, however, believe in censorship or repression of information.

The Student commits itself to fairness and respect for individual privacy, but it also commits itself to taking a strong stance when it finds crucial information that it believes the student body must know. We refuse to hold back from publishing important information in the interest of appeasing certain people. And in addition, withholding information does not demonstrate neutrality— especially when it pertains to an issue that a lot of people are curious about and deserve to be promptly informed of. If information is not prompt, it ceases to become news, and the campus newspaper fails in its primary function of providing news to the student body.

Of course, the ethics of presenting this news matters to The Student. And our ethics lie with honest journalism to discover and present the truth, rather than professing a weak front of “neutrality” to cover bureaucratic reporting in the interest of certain parties, out of fear of litigation.