Posts Tagged ‘public editor’

Keeping the Herald fair?

September 17, 2009

So the Herald got itself a public editor, otherwise known as an ombudsman. It’s Bassey Etim, who currently works at the New York Times and was the Herald’s managing editor way back when [a couple years ago]. I’m crossing my fingers that he didn’t read today’s opinion page, because from the responses I’m getting, there may be a significant portion of my readers who think my column was a little, ya know, stupid.

In his first article, Etim applauds the Herald for handling news of the recent UW suicide ethically and professionally, and warns its news staff to avoid relying too heavily on the words of Ken Harris, a former Herald editor and current head of ASM press relations, when covering campus government. The latter point is especially important, and in no way is Harris the only example of people in leadership positions who are good friends with Herald staff. Although I never dug the Campus Elite tournament at the Critical Badger, CB had a point when he talked about a tight-knit group of politically active people who scratch eachother’s backs.

Bassey may be right in asserting that Kevin Bargnes’ article about former College Republicans chair Sara Mikolajczak was somewhat unbecoming of  a managing editor, but it is less Bargnes’ fault than the Herald’s fault. The Herald has always required (or at least encouraged) its managing editors and editor in chiefs to write opinion pieces. If they are encouraged to express their opinions on political issues, should they really be expected to express those opinions…only to a certain extent? Are they expected to be moderate? Why? Should the Herald editorial board, which includes both editors, be expected to downplay its criticism of certain political orgs? The managing editor/EIC approve all the news and opinion articles. The only “wall” between editorial and news comes from the integrity of the staff. And that’s the way it has always been.

But go Bassey. This should make things interesting.