Discourse / Editorials / January 29, 2009

Thoughts from the Embers: A newspaper’s job

It’s been a busy week for our editors. Since last week’s coverage of incidents that occurred during TKE’s pledge week last year, we have soaked up both high praise and heated vitriol from the Knox community. Some students praised our courage while others berated our “radical anti-Greek agenda.”

To be honest, we don’t deserve either. To publish sensitive stories that we know will cause us stress isn’t “courage” exactly—we’re just doing our jobs. Someone came to us with a newsworthy story, and we covered it. We do that every week.

Neither do we deserve to be labeled as anti-Greek or “feminist,” at least not in the pejorative way it has been applied. We suppose TKS is a feminist paper, inasmuch as women’s rights are human rights, and we assume that everyone on campus is in favor of those. That’s not bias. That’s common sense, or maybe common decency.

But we are not out to bring down the Greek system. Our job last week was to report a situation between two individuals and a fraternity, not to write the story in the way either side wanted us to. Our goal was to present both sides in an equal way. The bottom line is that we’re not “out” to do anything but tell people on campus what’s going on.

Nearly 25 percent of the Knox community is Greek. Two of our nine editors are Greek, too. Our news editor, David Nolan, reviewed the information in the TKE article, approved it, and double-checked it for editorial bias. Nolan is a Sigma Nu and a member of the IFC Executive Board. Our Discourse editor, who published letters-to-the-editor this week on both sides of the TKE issue, is a Pi Beta Phi. The Knox Student isn’t trying to bring down the Greek system any more than our News and Discourse editors are trying to withhold evidence of Greek wrongdoing.

Assigning a non-Greek to write the TKE article made Greeks upset. Had we assigned a Greek to write the article, non-Greeks would have been upset. We can’t please everyone, and it isn’t our job to try. When a source comes to us with a story full of facts and opinions and emotions, we quote, we research, and we attempt to filter out bias wherever we see it. If we do well at presenting the facts, the campus can make up its own mind.

For that reason we want to reiterate that anyone on campus–Greek, non-Greek, ex-Greek, from Greece, anyone–can approach the paper with story ideas. Although TKE President Dan Pers’ letter to the editor this week seems to indicate that the organization will no longer talk to TKS, we would be happy cover the positive things the Greeks do, like philanthropy, just as thoroughly as we covered the hazing allegations. The TKE story was brought to us, so we investigated it. Help us inform the campus of good news, too.

If TKS has a secret agenda, it is only this: to bring the secrets and problems that are usually heard of only in rumors to light, and to do it in a fair way. We want the issues that affect our community to be openly discussed and addressed. The faster we can be honest and straightforward with each other, the faster we can heal.

TKS Staff

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