Letter to the editor: A response to The Tartan
Wilson Ekern and Adam Tunnard presented an important front-page piece in last week's issue of The Tartan, covering a visit from Newt Ginrich two weeks ago. Mr. Ginrich’s visit to Carnegie Mellon University brought together important voices in policy and technology and, I’m sure, posed a unique challenge to the staff of The Tartan to provide productive, neutral reporting. Let’s see how the writers did.
There are (at least) three, fundamental components of a story that responsible reporting covers: (1) Facts, (2) Context, (3) Bias.
(1) Did Ekern and Tunnard provide accurate information about Mr. Ginrich’s visit? Yes. No problems here.
(2) Did Ekern and Tunnard put Mr. Ginrich’s visit in context? Yes. For example, they mention that Director Skinner, who invited Mr. Ginrich to speak, worked on Mr. Ginrich’s presidential campaign in 2012.
(3) Did Ekern and Tunnard control for bias? Hell. No.
But wait! They spend almost the entire second half of their piece pointing out Mr. Ginrich’s bias! What more can you ask for?
What I ask for is that the staff of The Tartan control for reporting bias. Consider how Ekern and Tunnard point out one of Mr. Ginrich’s controversial claims:
“[Mr. Ginrich’s] equating of (sic) fracking technology to the work being done in nanotechnology or AI here at Carnegie Mellon University is a somewhat dubious claim, as fracking has certainly not been as flawless as the portrait he paints.”
Look closely. That is propaganda.
Not for liberal, environmental progressivism, and certainly not for Mr. Ginrich’s version of conservativism. It is propaganda for Carnegie Mellon University. Let me leave you with an equivalent translation of the argument that Ekern and Tunnard present:
“Fracking is not like CMU because fracking isn’t perfect.”
When I went to address this letter, I found the following statement: “The Tartan is not an official publication of Carnegie Mellon University.” I challenge you, the writers and editors of The Tartan, to report responsibly.
– Justin Dury-Agri, PhD Student, firstname.lastname@example.org