Daily ignores conservative viewpoints

IBy Audra Harpel i read the funniest thing two weeks ago: In an article about a fees allocation hearing, The Minnesota Daily’s managing editor, Jessica Thompson, was referred to as having said Daily reporters are trained to be objective and balanced. She even went so far as to say that they “refuse to print stories that don’t meet these standards.”

It seems to me, and to plenty of other people I know (both liberal and conservative), that the liberal bias of the Daily – and the media in general – is quite obvious. This doesn’t necessarily have to take form in your basic news story. But has anyone else noticed that nearly every political story run in the Daily, every cartoon and almost every opinion column is, dare I say, dripping with the liberal worldview?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t read the Daily every day, and I know that there have been occasions where a conservative voice is given the chance to say something in an opinions column or in a letter to the editor or some other way. I know that for me to say conservatives “never” get a say would be wrong and completely irresponsible.

Here is the issue: The Daily is said to be objective, but what does objective mean? Over time, especially since the 1960s, “objective” seems to have lost its essence. Today “objective” has become “cover the story from your perspective and give token mention to some other viewpoint.” Unfortunately, the other viewpoint is somehow allowed to be covered from the author’s perspective, too.

In order to be impartial, a news organization must give only the facts. For example, to call the grass “green” is just the facts; to call it a “luscious shade of green” is not the facts anymore. Now opinion is involved.

A news organization should also strive to publish all newsworthy events. Now a new question arises – what constitutes a newsworthy campus event? The number of people in attendance? Is a gathering of ten people for a specific cause a sufficient number? How about 100? Two hundred?

I find it interesting that the Daily will cover a graduation of 29 people from a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender program, a Buddhist meditation class of seven people or a “peace rally” of 40 people, but won’t even send a reporter to the numerous conservative events on campus. I know of one Christian organization on campus that has invited Daily reporters to seminars and other events with more than 250 people in attendance, but – as far as I know – its invitation has never been acknowledged.

How often is it that one sees an article about what the conservative groups on campus are doing? And if we do hear about them, how are they being portrayed – as good, or as naive and un-loving? The use of certain terminology is important too. For instance, if liberals are “antiwar,” does that make conservatives “pro-war” somehow?

Before the Daily can claim to be objective and balanced, take a deeper look at the content of the paper and decide how many articles speak in favor of leftist groups and how many highlight right-wing groups in a positive way. Take a look at the terminology and what it implies. Take a look at the personal biases of the authors, the majority of which I would assume proudly stand on the left side (another thing I won’t attempt to prove, but that I do assume).

As I said before, I know there are exceptions to this. I can’t say that the Daily has a liberal agenda and never shows the “other side” of things – how could I prove that? Would I have to go back through every Daily ever published and count up all the stories that favored the left side as opposed to the right or vice versa? I can’t prove this. But if there is anyone else out there reading this letter who would agree that the Daily is not objective and balanced, please, speak up.

There are more voices to be heard than what we, the campus population, are hearing. Objectivity has to mean more than just mentioning “the other side.” If it’s not, what is objectivity worth at all?

Audra Harpel is a University junior studying journalism. She welcomes comments at [email protected] Send

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