Information Should Accompany Endorsements

By Guest Contributor

In the April 23 issue of t​he Campus,​ the editorial board of the paper chose to publish a political endorsement regarding the SGA elections. The paper put their support behind SGA presidential candidate Caroline Walters. The editorial outlined Walters’ various credentials, celebrated her non–SGA background and highlighted her platform points. As I read through the article, I learned a lot about Caroline Walters and her campaign…but I couldn’t help but wish I could read about the other candidates and their vision for Middlebury. The editorial board opened their endorsement by mentioning that every candidate had come to t​he Campus n​ewsroom for an interview.

The paper, then, has a wealth of information about the various platforms, resumes and ambitions of those running. To my knowledge, no one else on campus has the resources or the influence to get every candidate into the same place for interviews and platform presentations. The Campus,​ as the only student-run paper at Middlebury, has a monopoly on this kind of access to interaction and information. Why, then, would they choose to pick a favorite and air an opinion, rather than use their valuable interviews to provide the student body with unbiased reporting on e​very c​andidate? Of course, the platforms and credentials of the candidates are accessible beyond the paper via the go links and posters each of them have used in campaigning, but that isn’t the point. The Campus i​s a student news source, making it inherently more trustworthy than campaign materials. The perception of the Campus a​s unbiased is what creates this trust between the students and the journalists. This trust is valuable to both parties, and the Campus should always strive to maintain it.

Long before the paper declares its loyalties, this forum should function as a source purely for information. The duty of journalists is to provide fact, with clarity and without adulteration, so that the public can think and act as fully informed citizens. Newspapers, of course, are also spaces for discourse, and I fully appreciate the tradition of opinionated writing in the news. My issue does not lie with the editorial boards’ decision to publish an endorsement- – newspapers around the nation have done so for centuries – –it lies with their failure to preface their opinion with thorough, unbiased reporting on all the candidates. The opinion of a newspaper is only valid when it comes along with all the information. To give us simply one perspective and expect us to be satisfied is unrealistic. I have no qualms with an editorial board expressing their own opinion, as long as they empower everyone else to judiciously craft their own. Credibility is what is at stake here, and unfortunately t​he Campus l​ost a little bit of it in my mind.

Katherine Brown ’18 is from Dayton, Ohio.