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November 20 2019

Student Journalists Against Journalism

by Charlotte Hays

Former and current Harvard Crimson staffers are protesting against what were once basic journalistic practices, including fairness.

It used to be standard operating procedure that reporters were supposed to contact both sides in a dispute for quotes and explanations.

The Harvard Crimson followed this practice when it covered a rally to demand abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Crimson contacted ICE for a response. Activists were furious:

"In this political climate, a request for comment is virtually the same as tipping [ICE] off, regardless of how they are contacted," wrote the activist group's leaders in their petition, which now has more than 650 signatories. "We strongly condemn their decision to uphold a policy that blatantly endangers undocumented students on our campus."

The petition demands that the Crimson "apologize for the harm they inflicted on the undocumented community," "critically engage with and change their policies that require calling ICE for comment," and "declare their commitment to protecting undocumented students on campus."

To her credit, top editor, Kristine Guillaume, has “correctly and repeatedly explained” that the Crimson was engaged in standard journalistic practice.

But the protestors are protesting. A group of fifty or so showed up at the student newspaper’s office to make their voices heard.

This would be par for the course—ho hum—except that a goodly number of the protestors are Crimson staffers, current and past.

Reason summed up the meaning of this:

[S]ome of The Crimson's own staff members and alumni evidently think the paper should stop practicing objective journalism, and instead become some kind of mouthpiece for the activist left. 

Reportedly, 33 current and former staffers have signed the protest petition.

Looks like the protest is well-organized:

Spearheading this effort is Danu Mudannayake, a design editor, who noted in a Medium post that protesters entered The Crimson building with signs that read "Undocumented Lives > 'Objective Journalism.'"

. . .

Harvard's student government has voiced support for the protest, and the College Democrats have signed the activists' anti-Crimson petition.

These Crimson grads will, as Reason noted, be knocking on the doors of newspapers seeking jobs. The ones engaged in the protest will not be bringing with them a concept of fairness and objectivity as a goal.

Unfortunately, they’ll fit in just fine at a lot of newsrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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