Things To Act
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Catfight! BYUSA vs. The Daily Universe
The DU ran a series of articles exploring BYUSA (some referenced below). Evidently, some members of BYUSA didn't take too kindly to public accountability (even of the tame sort provided by the DU). Today's editorial page contained two reporters' editorials defending their work, and one letter from four BYUSA VPs.

We'll take the BYUSA letter first. They attack the DU ("unethical and fallacious reporting of The Daily Universe"), then turn to attacking BYUSA presidents ("the failures of impossible promises"). Also, either the DU edited their letter to make them look dumb(er), or else of four BYUSA VPs, none is afraid to sign his name to a letter demonstrating serious defects in literacy ("we took from the stories the student body's need to be heard," "they are the president BYUSA," "their desires for success will come as they lead the organization").

Notable, of course, is the lack of any attempt to factually rebut whatever the "unethical" and "fallacious" charges against BYUSA were. Also notable is the evident dislike of the BYUSA presidents by the VPs. Since the DU just ran an article on how the new president-elect gets to pick the VPs, this seems puzzling. Either he's prevented from stacking it with his friends (length of service requirements?), or it's sore-loser election sour grapes or something. Sounds like an angle for more investigative journalism either way.

I'm also bemused by the sense of entitlement and self-righteous indignation coming from the VPs. Perhaps our farcial electoral system isn't as bad as I thought. We may not be able to vote against incumbents, but we have something of a semblance of democratic accountability--student body presidents can leave knowing that they wouldn't have been reelected! Or perhaps the root problem is still the self-selection of BYUSA officers of all stripes.

Moving on, Reporter #1's editorial is interesting. I won't bother with a detailed analysis, as he obviously isn't a neutral party, so it's probably better to read his defense in his own words.

One paragraph is worth noting for other reasons: "I feel that in many ways the reporting was misconstrued, especially with the headline, "Survey says students find BYUSA pointless." I don't think BYUSA is pointless. " Proof for my theory that the reporters hate the headline writers!

Reporter #2's editorial is not online. At great personal sacrifice for the Public Good, I'll excerpt some of the more interesting bits (while renewing my longstanding policy of frequent criticism of newsnet's inability to get content up promptly):

"Most of the negative emails I have received (a grand total of four--all from people associated with BYUSA) stem from a "stop the hate" e-mail campaign that apparently didn't work too well." Four emails--four irate VPs. Coincidence?

"If I did anything unethical in my reporting, it was spending my time searching for a positive comment from someone not affiliated with the organization." Heh.

"One e-mail said our articles must have stemmed from "an inside leak," as if BYUSA had something to hide." The idea of BYUSA whistleblowers leaking Top Secret Damaging Information strikes me as quite comical.

My conclusion: The logical follow-up to all of this is that the DU should investigate itself as well. Greater transparency for everyone!

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