The Recorder would be remiss in its responsibilities if it did not defend itself against accusations concerning its integrity. Beyond that, the pressure has now been shifted to the paper to not only defend its practices, but also advocate for a little more openness on campus.
In regards to recent coverage of the story involving John Wahlberg, a student who was questioned by the police after he delivered a presentation for Professor Paula Anderson’s communication class last semester, we stand by our coverage for the simple fact that our reporter wrote what she knew and what could be attributed.
The problem is not that she was appealed to by the student and wrote exactly what he said verbatim, as the communications department has suggested to in a letter to the Editor. If that did in fact happen, when the paper decided to pursue this story, then we would also be remiss in our responsibilities because we’d be negligent in refusing to strive for objectivity and balance.
As we know it, the facts are these: the university officials involved, which include the staff of the communications department where Anderson teaches, have decided to refuse to speak to the paper in all respects and have attempted to draw the attention away from themselves by accusing the paper of shoddy journalism.
The communications department, including chair Serafin Mendez -Mendez and Anderson, can and should defend themselves as they see fit and can take advantage of the opportunity to set the record straight as they see it, so to speak. By refusing to speak to the paper, whether out of personal choice or by perceived restrictions, the department is passively agreeing to the facts as we have printed them in the last two weeks.
It should also be pointed out that The Recorder, as a newspaper serving the CCSU community, has a responsibility to consult all possible sources on a given story.
This cannot be misconstrued as prying into the lives of individuals or seeking to cause discord within CCSU. Not all details surrounding the complaint against Wahlberg have surfaced, such as which university official actually contacted the police or how the procedure was handled by the police department.
We believe that these details can be explained and included in follow-up articles without damaging reputations or causing an individual to receive unwarranted negative attention. Similarly, these details should not harm a student’s reputation, and will most likely aid in clarifying the situation.
The paper is merely trying to gather all facts – in refusing to speak with The Recorder, the communications department is directly interfering with and therefore preventing some parts of our investigation.
If the communications department truly knew the basics of journalism, as they claim to do so in their letter, they would understand that stonewalling the press is an unacceptable response to what they probably consider an unfavorable article.
As for the future, The Recorder would like to make it clear that in pursuing research for an article, our interviews will not stop at the first source.
This isn’t to say that we’re correcting a habit – as we make sure to name sources honestly and openly within every article. Even if we are not granted the opportunity to a source deemed valuable or central to the story, we make a point of covering our tracks.
While we accept and welcome open criticism, we suggest that the communications department rethink their motives before writing a letter that one, asks for a retraction and two, a formal apology when they had the chance to comment and make their impression on the original story.