Poor coverage of Daily editor’s suspension

Last week, The Minnesota Daily suspended Editor in Chief Todd Milbourn until next semester. The coverage of this event in the Daily was paltry and equivocating. The Daily must give the University community a more thorough report on Milbourn’s suspension.

The Daily should investigate Milbourn’s suspension more thoroughly for several reasons. First and foremost, the Daily has besmirched its integrity by not addressing the suspension thoroughly. Traditionally, the Daily has investigated University-related suspensions carefully and admirably, whether the suspended party was a University administrator, staff member or student. The Daily cannot recuse itself of covering this University-related suspension merely because it embarrasses the Daily.

Further, the Daily’s mandate is to report news that affects the University community. Milbourn’s suspension and the reorganization of the editorial staff within the Daily might change the style and content of the campus’ independent student newspaper. Therefore, the suspension might affect how the Daily delivers news and views to the University’s students, faculty and staff. A change of this magnitude within the University’s major news organ deserves a thorough treatment by the Daily.

In order to keep the trust of the University community it serves, the Daily must erase all whiffs of obfuscation by investigating the suspension more thoroughly. However, to avoid any charges of conflict of interest, the Daily’s own reporters should not cover the story. Instead, the Daily should hire a freelance writer and editor to further investigate the suspension. To preserve the integrity of the story, the freelance writer must have the freedom to interview Daily staff regarding Milbourn’s suspension.

However, the freelance writer and editor must remember that Milbourn and Daily employees are accorded a level of privacy by law. Thus, while readers of the Daily deserve a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the suspension, the freelance report must not infringe on the legal privacy rights held by Milbourn and the Daily staff.

This is a matter of coverage. The fact that the story concerns the Daily is irrelevant. The argument is that the Daily did not report on a story with significance to the campus, not that the institution was reticent about the circumstances of the suspension, which is to be expected. The University community – and society in general – trusts the news media to uncover what is not admitted.