Review, Perps Editor, Suck

To the Editors:

I believe it is safe to say that the world has lost its mind. As long as I have been at Oberlin, and presumably far longer, the Review has had accusations of bias flung upon it from far and wide. One becomes rather numb to these allegations, because most are made in fits of emotion by people who feel scorned by some upstart young wannabe journalist. Normally, I give this paper a little slack, partially because I have worked there myself and have been the subject of unfair accusations, but most importantly because I know that the individuals who work there make sincere efforts to produce a good paper.
So I was stopped in my tracks the moment a few weeks ago when I actually had reason to believe that extremely poor judgment had been exercised by the Review. I had learned that the editor of this very Perspectives page was a member of the Student Finance Committee, which was characterized as one of “the most powerful committees” on campus in a recent editorial. In fact, on the same page as that editorial, was a letter defending SFC written by one of its members who also happens to moonlight as a staff-writer at the Review. This is unacceptable. Even as students, decisions must be made about what interests to sacrifice and what to pursue.
It seems these individuals are unable to make these decisions. While it is commendable that these people have chosen to recuse themselves from votes that involve the Review’s funding, it remains problematic that there are members of a powerful committee in control of the editorial opinion of the most read publication on campus. If a student newspaper is to fairly address campus issues, it must be free of influence and biases that may affect coverage. Who’s to say that the Review won’t shy from challenging SFC or other organizations, should any controversies arise, because it refuses to rock the boat? How do we know that it will not be selective in its coverage to an irresponsible extent?
As student journalists, writers and editors of a campus publication claiming to be the newspaper of record must remove themselves from participation in other organizations should that participation threaten to adversely affect their objectivity, or conversely, their ability to participate within that organization. What would the implications be for The New York Times if a member of the FCC sat on its editorial board? What about Rudolph Guiliani, Hillary Clinton or George Bush? Hopefully, the public would be outraged, as it should be in this case.
We certainly cannot expect perfection from a student newspaper, or any other newspaper. However, we can expect student journalists to make every effort to avoid bias, whether actual or perceived.

–Bill Lascher
College senior

November 9
November 16

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