Encouraging journalistic integrity on campus

Last week, a new publication appeared on Carnegie Mellon’s campus. The Flip Side, a conservative newspaper, made its debut on Thursday, when it was distributed by hand in front of Doherty Hall.

We are always in favor of more journalistic publications on this campus. The more knowledge and opinions the student body is exposed to, the better. The addition of a conservative newspaper is commendable; we hope that there will soon be a liberal one as well, as both will encourage partisan discussion on campus.

That said, we believe that all campus-wide publications should be held to high standards of journalistic integrity. Promoting any issue on campus — conservative, liberal, or other — comes with a responsibility of separating fact from opinion. The Flip Side’s mission statement says its creators want to provide “solid facts”; however, the majority of pieces in the first issue are heavily editorialized. While most newspapers are biased to a degree — whether or not that bias is stated outright — any newspaper has an obligation to its readers to report objective news.

There are instances of conservative-leaning university newspapers that hold themselves to this obligation in a responsible, well-organized manner. Vanderbilt University’s The Vanderbilt Torch and the University of California at Berkeley’s California Patriot are successful examples.

If The Flip Side intends to editorialize all of its content, it should say so, and should then call itself a newsletter rather than a newspaper. Either type of publication is fine, but it is irresponsible to mislead readers. A balanced newspaper must separate its editorials from its news. The two should not be confused as one.

We would like to extend an open invitation to The Flip Side to discuss journalistic standards to which its creators can hold the newspaper. This is a campus on which free speech flourishes, and newspapers are an important way to encourage this. It is the responsibility of the creators of such publications to promote free speech responsibly.