In the Feb. 19 issue of The Stony Brook Press an article re- garding a survey scandal at USG was published. In the wake of the publication of this article, numerous actions have taken place. One such action included the short-lived protest against Anna Lu- bitz, the president of USG, which was shut down by the Adminis- tration after a harsh Facebook comment was deemed as a threat towards Lubitz.
Another outcome of the publication of this article has been an out-lash at The Press. The words “gossip” and “sensationalism” have been thrown around a lot. The editorial board at The Press would like to stress that in no way do we feel that the USG article published in our last issue met those descriptions.
We strive to bring important issues to the student body, the issue of our student elected representatives taking advantage of their power was one that we as a whole deemed an important one.
Since then, The Press has been working on a follow-up article regarding the continuing search by SAB for a spring concert act and the University Police background checks. While we attempted to talk to USG officials we found that several were trying to con- trol what parts of their statements were published. One official even went as far as to threaten to retract his statement if it was not published in its entirety.
It’s important that the public understands that being a jour- nalist isn’t often an easy job. We do as much as we can to be fair to our readers and constantly work to publish the truth. When sources, especially those in elected positions, don’t understand exactly what that means, it makes our job much more difficult.
Sources have no right to try and manipulate reporters. Any- thing they say or write to a reporter is fair game unless explicitly stated as off the record. What quotes are included in the story is entirely up to the reporters discretion. A reporter is also never obligated to send a source their story before it’s published.
But to respond to a question asked by a reporter, then to de- mand it to be published in its entirety, or in parts as you please, isn’t how we do things. If sources, especially elected and public officials, were able to control which of their statements were pub- lished and which weren’t, then the purpose of journalism would cease to exist, we would all be public reltations officers. That pur-
pose of course being to inform the public.
Student government officials are constantly in the public eye,
whether they want to be or not. In the small world that is our campus, they are public figures and assumed that role the mo- ment they took office. Being a public figure comes with its perks, but it also comes with being under the watchful eye of the media.
If mistakes are made by such officials, they have to accept re- sponsibility and expect the media to report on such mistakes.
If these student government officials hope to one day pursue a career in politics, it’s important to understand the role that me- dia will play in their lives.
This issue however isn’t limited to just student government officials, many members of the campus community have similar feelings about student media. Many times student photographers have been asked to stop taking pictures inside of dining halls and academic buildings. Even police officers threaten to take away cameras or demand to see photos student journalists have taken with no grounds to do so. Photojournalists reserve the right to photograph in any place that is open to the public.
There have also been many instances in which the University Police have tried to dictate where reporters and photographers can be, even when they are behind a police barricade. In one par- ticular instance a Stony Brook Journalism professor was nearly arrested trying to explain to a university police officers that re- porters and photographers can be wherever the public is. Luckily, a supervising officer stepped in and explained to the officer that this professor was correct.
As journalists we consider what we do to be a public service. We aim to inform of the campus community of issues that we as whole need to be aware of. We take our mission to heart and treat it as a creed. What we do is a way of life, not a hobby.
That duty grows very difficult when members of the pub- lic don’t entirely understand the journalistic process, and even in some cases take for granted the work that we do. If you take anything away from this editorial, let it be this: we are not your enemy.