Recently, my fellow Assistant News Director, Dan Keylin, was attacked on this blog by Eric Thibault - who worked for Xochitl's Sanchez's campaign - for injecting analysis into his coverage of the Student Association elections. Now, Dan's a big boy and he can take it, but not only did Mr. Thibault provide a completely fact-free assault on my fellow AND, he also called all of WRGW News as a whole "biased" (just look at the headline), which is appallingly inaccurate.
Now, he had to provide a media critique for his Internet and Politics class, and I don't blame him for choosing WRGW News to pick on: after all, he has been a staff writer for The Hatchet, and one can hardly expect him to critique his own employer. But let's delve into his claims and see if there is any truth there.
First, he criticizes Dan for calling Jason Lifton (who went on to win the election) the "overwhelming favorite," saying that he had nothing to back up this claim. Well, first off, we have done several interviews with SA insiders (you can find these interviews on our News In Depth page), all of whom agreed that the race was Lifton's to lose. Then there was the straw poll we did which, while not scientific, did have a large sample (yes, Eric, I took SMPA 51, too) and backed up Dan's claim. Oh, and then Lifton actually won the election. So was there evidence to support the fact that Lifton was the favorite? Retrospectively, yes. In fact, when Dan made that assertion, it would have been pretty difficult to say he wasn't the overwhelming favorite in the race, considering the fact that Lifton announced his candidacy two days before Sanchez, the only other candidate in the presidential race, announced hers. If Lifton wasn't the favorite at that point, I don't know who was. Maybe Steve Holt?
Eric next critizes Dan's assertion that Sanchez didn't let him into her Facebook group. But here's the first thing Sanchez's group says:
Per election rules, this group has to remain a closed group. However, if you would like to join my group I will not turn you away!***But she did turn Dan away. So, essentially, she lied on her campaign page. I would argue that this is something worth noting. As for Eric's respose...
Who the hell cares? That's not news, that's your egotistical commentary.Real mature, Eric.
From there, Eric goes on to rant about various other things regarding Dan's coverage of the SA. I'll respond in order:
- He calls Dan's analysis of Sanchez's debate performance fair. But then he refers to Lifton's as biased. Maybe it's just me, but it sure seems like someone's just a bit bitter that Lifton did a better job at the debate. And he did: unlike Sanchez, Lifton was able to give specific accomplishments that he'd made, including expanding study spaces and working with GW administrators on CCAS advising, which we just learned in a GW infomail is getting a massive overhaul. Our exit polls confirmed that Lifton had a stronger performance.
- He admits that Dan made a point of saying his analysis is analysis (and trust me, as Assistant News Director I've been making sure he does this when it is necessary), but then says you can't be an unbiased reporters and a news analyst. Actually, Eric, that disclaimer is exactly what allows you to do this. But given that you have completely failed to prove any actual bias on Dan's part, it's a moot point anyway.
- About the endorsement: last Monday, the entire WRGW News Staff had a huddle in the radio station and we decided, together and by virtual consensus, who we wanted to endorse for the presidential and EVP races. It was not Dan who decided to endorse Lifton, it was all of us, based on his debate performance, his platform, and his experience in the SA. And the Clinton analogy is unfounded because, unlike Lifton, Clinton didn't actually win the election, so there is no basis for comparison there.
- He mentions that Sanchez received positive coverage from staff writer Alexa Vogel. Why is it that "positive" coverage is okay but "negative" coverage isn't? Are they not both biased? Vogel's article, of course, was not at all biased, but again, it shows that he was expecting WRGW News to go out of its way to support Sanchez and was incredibly upset that we did not.
- The exit poll results that he "conveniently can no longer find on their Web site" are right here. I guess he didn't look very hard. It's okay to criticize our coverage, but don't you dare falsely accuse us of deleting our articles to hide them from discerning minds.
- The exit poll is an exit poll, and no one in the professional world will tell you that an exit poll is 100 percent accurate. So while it does not gauge the entire university's opinion on the candidiates, what it does do is give us a way to determine who did better in the debate (thus making Dan's assertion that Lifton did better completely unbiased).
- The fact that Eric asks "why publish" a poll that isn't scientific shows that, even though he has worked for the Hatchet for quite a while, he still doesn't really understand journalism that well. We published it because it's interesting, because people like to know. In fact, our poll results have gotten some of our highest hits to date. They're popular, why not publish them, especially when we're acknowledging, as Eric admits, that they are not scientific and do not include graduate students. You sure as heck read them.
- Anyone who was standing in Columbian Scquare on Election Night will tell you it was a nail biter. We got several interviews with SA insiders who all said that, when the JEC guy announced that the winner had something like 51.5% of the vote, they weren't sure who was going to win (I believe Lifton said the same thing). As Lifton admits (and Eric must be shocked we didn't take this down from our site), and as I said live on the air that night well before the results were announced, Sanchez ran a great race, she spent a lot of time campaigning, and her debate performances were quite good.
You know, Professor Green, who runs the Internet and Politics class, says that we'll get credit for our weekly blog posts as long as we have a link and something "bloggy." But what if we don't have something factual? Do we still get credit then? Shouldn't that be a requirement as well?
Assistant News Director