The sad state of College-sanctioned journalism

Chien Wen Kung calls for the Daily Dartmouth to explain its editorial butchering and botching of an article written by a contributor who has since been fired (see that contributor’s response to the edited article here).

There are two separate issues here. The first concerns editorial supremacy: the Daily Dartmouth’s editors have a right to edit, as they see fit, any copy submitted to them. Implicitly, this is a vital part of the editor/reporter relationship. Owing to publication deadlines and editorial process, the reporter might not always or ever be contacted about changes made to his or her piece. The Daily Dartmouth’s editors owe no one an explanation for any changes they may have made to the original article as submitted by the reporter.

The second issue is one of editorial responsibility. The Daily Dartmouth has clearly erred by publishing an article that was shoddily researched and written. In all likelihood, one or more sources were misquoted. This is, simply, inexcusable. That the unedited article contained such errors or, even worse, that they were actually added by editors highlights the failings of the Daily Dartmouth’s editorial process. Misquotings and factual inaccuracies have been plenty in the pages of the Daily Dartmouth of late, and corrections few. Put simply, that’s no way to run a newspaper, and the Daily Dartmouth owes its readership (and those misquoted) an explanation of how this was allowed to occur and what steps will be taken to restore the Daily Dartmouth’s trustworthiness from the depths to which it has fallen.

Most likely, the editorial board has simply been playing fast and loose with its fact- and quote-checking, a lapse caused by lazy staff and looming deadlines. When it is determined who failed to put a hold on this article, those persons should be fired for neglecting their basic editorial duties. It may be well and good for the editorial board to persist in firing its reporters and cartoonists over trivialities and misunderstandings, but, when a news source’s tarnished credibility is on the line, those with ultimate responsibility, the editors, must own up to their failings.