Reporters need to cover campus events with less bias

Here’s a suggestion for what I think would be a great Record story: an honest attempt by a reporter to actually investigate the large amount of work that goes into planning events on the Williams College campus.

Nearly every story I’ve read this year about campus events and organizations has featured an unacceptable amount of bias, whether through the reporter’s selective inclusion of quotes or the editor’s choice of headline. Could writers please report the facts rather than simply provide personal commentaries? Editors should be firm in drawing the line between news story and editorial.

Story after story, reporters seem to gloss over important facts.

For one, it’s difficult to get a big-name band on campus because we have such a small student body. Take a look at concertideas.com, the booking agent that campus organizations generally use: a performer over $35K will never be in our budget. Furthermore, even if the College raised enough money to bring a performer like Kayne West, he would never play such a small crowd. (It’s not a question of whether every student attends the concert because we don’t have a performance space with the capacity to hold the entire student body!) We’re really lucky to be getting The Roots. Last weekend, they played a concert in Washington, D.C., for a crowd of more than 10,000 fans. With nearly every other concert on campus free to students, a potential $20 ticket price should not be a big deal.

Secondly, it’s also difficult to coordinate successful parties. Not only has the neighborhood system split up the funds available to host events, but it’s also split up the campus’s talented party planners. Event planning organizations such as All Campus Entertainment have lost potential recruits to the neighborhood boards. Instead of coming together and thinking of more campus-wide, large-scale events like Queer Bash, organizations and boards are forced to think smaller, like cookie-decorating and ’90s-themed house parties. With funds and personnel split between organizations, the neighborhood boards, and Campus Life, coordination is no simple task.

All I ask is that reporters keep these limitations in mind when they’re writing their stories. Look for quotes that are constructive, not simply critical, and try to find a variety of opinions. Attend an organizational meeting to get a sense of the planning that went into an event instead of simply conducting a five-minute interview with a student after the event is over. Investigate what colleges of a similar size can and have been doing.

Campus organizations can do better, and they’re trying – just give them a little credit.

Katie Aldrin ’12