Thin line between politics, journalism

Last Tuesday, a supplement paid for by the Human Life Alliance of Minnesota Education Fund Inc., “She’s a Child … Not a Choice” ran in The Minnesota Daily. Human Life Alliance claims to have disseminated over 13 million copies nationwide, most of them headed toward college campuses. The supplement was strongly slanted in opposition to abortion. It was little more than propaganda in a political battle which has raged since Roe v. Wade in 1973.
During a period in which student groups have seen the demise of their funding because of their politics, this blatant display of partisanship is a slap in the face. The Daily was careless in allowing propaganda to be published as an insert, and this should be avoided in the future.
The Daily has a procedure through which supplements must pass before being accepted. There exists an Advertising Acceptance Board, made up of the heads of most of the departments in the Daily, which decides whether or not a certain advertisement can run.
Nearly identical ads ran twice before as supplements to the Daily, once in 1993 and again in 1996. The prior acceptance of these ads were considered sufficient reason to allow it to run again.
One of the most disturbing things about this insert is that it was produced on newsprint, making it appear as if it were a part of the Daily. The small disclaimer indicating it was an “Advertising Supplement,” was ineffective at fully divorcing the content of the ad from the Daily’s real news coverage.
The issue at hand is the thin line between “free enterprise” and the promotion of one political view or another. College campuses have always been the favorite targets of groups with vested interests. Students’ increasingly more intellectual, yet still undeveloped, ideas are prime booty for the right, the left and everyone in between.
The recent student services fees lawsuit is one example of the tactics used by interest groups to further their goals. Student groups will likely have their funds effectively cut because of their political nature. It is odd that, on one hand, conservative factions seek to limit political speech on campus through the lawsuit, but on the other hand, have no qualms with saturating the University with their own agenda through the ad. The fact that they presented political views was in conflict with the nature of the University, which should be impartial. We now see a gross display of political views in the University’s daily college newspaper.
The supplement netted the Daily $1,650. Even if the Daily is experiencing financial hard times, some integrity must be maintained in the choice of advertisements. Unfortunately, money seems to trump morals, even in a traditionally liberal institution such as a university newspaper.
The Daily made a mistake in running this ad, given the recent history of politics and representation at the University. The Daily must do a better job of thinking before it acts. The battle for our minds is on, and we, not money, are the ultimate arbitrators of the outcome.